Your wife wants me dead
So many people wishing me dead before I was even born! Yet, here I am. Demanding acknowledgement on behalf of all the illegitimates, the bastards, the foundlings...
I met your wife. She wants me dead.
Well, not dead. Just not to have been born. Is that the same thing?
She’d like to travel back in time and place a condom on your bedside table shortly before the fateful moment that changed everything. Of course, nothing immediately changed for you – except the swagger in your step that came with crossing the threshold into adulthood and the rush of relief that you weren’t the last of your friends.
And for her? The changes would have been slight and incremental. A swelling of the breasts, a queasy feeling which she numbed with cigarettes. The elephant in her childhood home growing bigger and bigger until it dwarfed her stubborn denial and her parents’ wilful ignorance.
“You stupid, STUPID girl. Getting yourself into trouble. How far along are you? Too late to have it taken care of… What were you thinking? What will the neighbours say? What are we going to do?”
Adoption decided as the best option, the only option left. A pregnancy of despair, rage and resignation. A birth of shame, loss and relief. A fresh start for two young people, a tainted beginning for one new baby. The best thing for everyone given the circumstances.
So many people wishing me dead before I was even born! Yet, here I am. Demanding acknowledgement on behalf of all the illegitimates, the bastards, the foundlings. So many lives complicated by our audacity to exist. Why do we have to stir things up? We have to understand that was the way things were. In those days.
There is more than one way to announce you have become a father.
There's the traditional way:
“Congratulations! That’s wonderful news. You’re a dad! You have a daughter! You must be over the moon. Enjoy every second won’t you, mate? We can’t wait to watch her grow up.”
There's becoming a father through adoption:
“You’re adopting a baby? Oh. I see. Well, that’s great news. So, you’ll be parents at last. You must be relieved. You’re lucky to get a baby – everyone wants a baby but it’s really hard to get one. So what’s the story then, if you don’t mind me asking? Why don’t her real parents want her?”
And there's becoming a father 25 years after you actually became a father:
“Wow. Oh god. This is big. How did she find you? Well, what does she want? Is she after money? She’s not going to cause trouble is she? Who else knows?”
They tell me adoption changes nothing.
“You’re still our child. We don’t even notice any difference! We treat you all exactly the same – always have, always will.”
I say adoption changes everything.
“Of course I won’t stop you having a relationship with her. But I’m not telling my side of the family, ok? And I really don’t want anyone from the church to know. And can we not tell the kids just yet? Let’s wait til they’re a bit older.”