By Shaun Featherstone
Like many first time dads, I am about to celebrate my first Father’s Day — as an actual bone fide adoptive parent. Perhaps unlike many, since I am part of a same sex couple, I will be sharing the day’s honors and adulations with my husband. We joyfully welcomed a gorgeous, goofy and already hilarious baby boy into our family 3 months ago. Throughout the entire adoption process, from the rigors of the application to finalizing future contact plans with our baby’s birthmother, I visualized the many firsts we’d experience as a family, but somehow I forgot about Father’s Day. And I realize now that while I didn’t necessarily feel like an Instant Dad on the day that our son was born (a day when we both held our birthmother’s legs throughout her long labor), but rather over the last few months we’ve become fathers.
We helped to bring this extraordinary and beautiful little baby into the world, and we were overjoyed to bring him home with us. But at first, we were so preoccupied with getting it right that we didn’t consider ourselves in the Dad camp quite yet. At best we felt like on call Nannies (Mannies?). Add to this our continued focus on the well being of our baby’s birthmom, supporting her through the separation; and it was tough to find time to acclimate into our new roles.
Let’s face it, until he goes to school and starts making cards and gifts (times two), the concept of a day celebrating Dad is kind of lost on our newborn son. But it’s not always going to be that way. We’re big believers of the energy in, energy out principle of parenting – and it’s already proving its worth to us. Just a couple of weeks into this journey, when we least expected it, BANG! – we started to get something back! Eye contact felt like a rush of adrenaline, his first laugh had us almost hyperventilating. We realized that he had us hook, line and sinker and yes, we’re his dads.
Personally, this Father’s Day I’ll be turning to my husband, my son’s Daddy (I’m Papa) in celebration of the man who has already turned around on so many aspects of this crazy adventure we call parenting. This is the guy who repeatedly winced at the idea of a diaper change and who’d admit to going a little pale at the idea of the sleepless nights with a newborn. But this Sunday, I’ll be celebrating the guy I wouldn’t do this without. He’s not only become a fantastic hands-on dad, but he’s given me the love, support and encouragement I need to know that I’m a great dad too. Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there, whether it’s your 1st or 51st Father’s Day. However you came to be someone’s dad or whomever you may or may not share this day with, celebrate your own potential to be an extraordinary force for good in your child’s life, and be proud to be a dad.
Shaun Featherstone is a new Papa to a beautiful baby boy. Shaun and his husband built their family through Open Adoption in 2016 with the help of Adoption Connection.