Monday, October 22, 2012

Do I invite my "surprise!" biological father?


Dear ESB,

My longstanding boyfriend and I starting to discuss the realities of getting married in the foreseeable future. There are a lot of aspects to us getting married that fill me with joy and smiles and happy thoughts.

However, one of the things that slightly overwhelms me is the guest list. See, I'm adopted. I've been close to my biological mother and her family for about 10 years now. They are awesome and it is important to me that they be at my wedding if/when we have one.

The issue that stresses me out is my biological father. He's only been in my life for a few years. I contacted him in a "surprise! you have a 30 year old daughter!" kind of way (he didn't know about me). He's been enthusiastic about my presence in his life- but if we get married I don't know if I want him there. He's such a nice man and he and his extended family have been so welcoming to my presence. Still- I'm not that close to them, he and my birth mother haven't seen each other since the drunken night of my creation, and when my boyfriend and I get married I don't want my wedding to be "about" all of these biological/adoptive relatives meeting each other for the first time. 

I feel like he would be absolutely crushed not to be invited, and it feels like a douchey thing to do, especially when I kind of uprooted his emotional life in the first place by making contact with him. He also has a 5 year old son who I've met a few times and who I adore, which makes the thing even harder. 

I don't want my wedding to be awkward and stressful on myself, my birthmother, my parents, etc. I don't want to be worrying about this man being around and having to make awkward emotionally loaded small talk with him at my wedding. I also don't want to deeply hurt someone who, you know, made me. 

Do I just suck it up and invite him trusting that everyone will be kind and polite to one another for my sake? Do I adopt (heh) the "it's our day" mentality and just don't invite him if it's too much of a pain?

BF and I both definitely want a wedding ceremony at my parents house with friends and family, so no eloping or city hall. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. 

Fuck me,
Lots o' Parents

*****

I'm surprising myself a little with this one, but I think you should invite the guy.

Photo by Vincent Lappartient for Dazed and Confused

26 comments:

  1. Agreed. Arrange an opportunity for everyone to meet before the wedding so there is no weirdness on the day.

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  2. I agree - invite the guy if you do feel like he's been welcoming and great to you. But can you do an adoptive patents/birth patents meet up before the wedding? That might eliminate some of the awkwardness on your actual wedding day. If everyone lives in a reasonable travel distance, maybe have a coed wedding shower or engagement party or just a general birthday BBQ.

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    1. Agreed! Invite bio-dad since you were the one who initiated meeting/trying to be apart of each others' lives. Try to get all of the parents together beforehand so that all of the awkwardness comes out in a different context.

      However, if you really really really don't want him there, you can always try to plan an event that you don't think he will come to (ie, not near him in location, child-free, on his birthday/anniversary/etc).

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  3. I feel that since you and your boyfriend are just starting to talk about getting married, there might be a good chunk of time before your boyfriend proposes and you start your actual wedding planning. Perhaps by then, you'll feel closer to your biological father that you will want to invite him. Also, if you don't want your wedding to be about all your biological families meeting each other for the first time, you could set up a small gathering some time in the future but before wedding planning gets serious (to save some stress) and have everyone meet. Potluck? Apples to Apples?

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    1. yes, it doesn't sound the actual drafting of the guest list is imminent since there isn't a ring on it. Why not in the meantime try to plan some kind of get together (inviting parents, bio parents, etc) what whatever occasion you can think up and then you will at least get a sense of how people behave for that, get awkward kinks out of the way etc. Treat it as a test run. It should give you a good idea anyway of whether or not to invite him to the big life event or not.

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  4. I see nothing wrong with inviting him if he's a nice guy and is, as you say, enthusiastic about your presence in his life. If you're worried about them making it all "adopted/biological/blah blah blah", then I don't think you're giving them enough credit to be decent people.

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  5. What about inviting them all to dinner ahead of time as an "Engagement Party" type thing (which honestly most of the time i hate), but in this circumstance might alleviate the stress of their meeting and on your wedding day instead of making introductions they can all be focused on celebrating with you! I bet they would be nervous too....

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  6. i agree with all of the above! :) best of luck to you.

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  7. Invite him. It sounds like you would be more stressed/hurt yourself in the end if you did not. Just make bio-mom and family aware beforehand.

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  8. I say invite him, too. But don't let the wedding be the first time everyone is meeting. Have a big ol' rehearsal party and invite your immediate family and bridal party. Let everyone know ahead of time that this is an opportunity to meet each others families before the wedding- so they're not blindsided by "oh, hey, there's the guy that got me pregnant" and "oh, hey, there's the lady that never told me I had a daughter."

    The thing is, many many people in this world have no family- or very little family- or very crappy family. You're incredibly blessed to have discovered that- on the contrary to being an orphan- you're actually surrounded by LOTS of people who love and support you and want to be in your life. This is a beautiful thing and I can't think of a better day than your wedding day to recognize and celebrate this.

    Perhaps a little toast (coming from you, expressing how grateful you are for all these incredible people you get to call family) to kick off the rehearsal party, will get everyone off on the right foot.

    And then just relax!!

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    1. I couldn't agree more with Tonia's take on this. Spot on.

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  9. Hmm, I have a slightly different take on this. You have got to take care of yourself on this one--whatever that might look like.

    This parallels my own "origin story" so I know first hand how this shit can deliver an emotional punch to the gut when you least expect it. I don’t think you need to exclude or invite him, but I think you should pay very close attention to what *you* want. Will his attendance make you feel loved and joyful about how many people care about you and want to support you? Or will it feel heavy and overwhelming and distracting? You probably don’t know, but if the anxiety about the latter happening is so great that it is overwhelming you, pay attention to that.

    Also ask yourself: Is your anxiety about how you will feel or how other people will feel? Because this is one decision where, “eff it, it’s my day” is not irrelevant. Make the decision that, in your heart, gives you the most peace, and then have an open conversation with your bio-dad, bio-mom, and your parents, once you’ve made your decision, to prep them and see how they’d like to handle it. (Notice: The *it* isn’t really up for debate, but the how is! That way your honoring everyone’s needs without feeling responsible for everyone else.)

    Congrats and good luck!

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  10. I'm with all those above who say speak to everyone else involved, but I'd first suggest you give it some real personal thought yourself. You need to work out if you want him there before considering others (not in a selfish way, just so you don't end up resenting the outcome). I didn't invite my biological mother (I'm not adopted, she just left) to my wedding - it was a no brainer for me, but you sound like you need to work out what you want.

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  11. My biggest concern would be regretting it later if you DON'T invite him. As long as you can try and smooth everything over in advance, I doubt you'd ever regret having him there. But if you don't invite him b/c you aren't close now and then you grow closer, I think it would be sad to look back and not have had him there.

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  12. I agree. Honestly the thing I've found with perceived family drama/tension and weddings is that in the end, when the actual day comes, people are a lot more grownup than your anxiety gives them credit for.

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  13. Even in circumstances other than yours, weddings are "about" way more family members than just the bride and groom. And if you contacted your biological father because you wanted him to be part of your life, you need to follow through on including him in it.

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  14. I'm thinking about your little five year old step brother. Maybe it would be important for him to share the day with you? It might be a great way for him to learn that families come in all shapes. Also, it sounds like in your heart you want them there, you're just worried about the distraction and complication. In my mind, bringing people together who would not otherwise have been was not the distraction of my wedding day, but was kind of the whole point. I don't want to sound glib. Obviously this is a huge decision. But like others have said, you have time, you have other parties for introductions/getting the awkwardness out of the way, you have the chance to talk to everyone in advance. Weddings can be great catalysts for healing and it might make your day even more special.

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  15. I agree with esb.

    Invite him! He's been nice so far and welcoming to you, why not?

    Are you having an engagement party? A rehearsal dinner? Maybe a pre-weekend celebration before the wedding?

    When I got married our families had seen each other SO MANY TIME before the wedding that everyone was friends by the time the wedding came around. What with showers, birthdays, things like that.

    If you're not a fan of a lot of the silly pre-wedding parties (my family forced me into them) Do you have an upcoming birthday? Or even just a random "just because" picnic? The holidays perhaps?

    Oooh! Maybe a christmas party a couple of days before actual christmas! Give everyone a chance to break the ice beforehand, and you can gauge how they interact before the invites have to go out!

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  16. I have a biological cousin who was given up for adoption long before I was born (her mother was 17 and still in high school, and this was in the early 70's when that sort of thing wasn't so much accepted). Her mother and brother spent years searching for her, and when this cousin was in college, she was reunited (im not sure thats the right word) with our family. When she got married, I guess we'd been in the picture for something like 7-10 years. Her adopted family was really really uncomfortable with us being invited to the wedding, although I think we would have been if it was up to her. We ultimately ended up throwing her a really beautiful little party that was just for our side of the family and some close friends. She got to wear her dress again, we all drank and danced the night away, and nobody felt sad that we hadn't been invited to the actual wedding. I think you should do whatever makes you feel comfortable. I'm sure this relationship you're developing with your birth father is a strange road to navigate. Maybe just have a conversation with him about it after you actually get engaged.

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  17. I know you're just beginning to think this stuff out, but keep in mind that if it's a large-ish wedding, like more than 50 people, it's all going to be a big happy blur for you and you're going to be too busy and delirious to notice which groups of people are interacting and what they're saying.

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  18. Best case scenario not just for your wedding but for the entire rest of your life: you develop a healthy relationship with your birth father, starting now. Only you know what "healthy" means to you. The rest of your family is supportive, and they get to know him. By the time your wedding arrives, you are all STOKED for the big day, and comfortable celebrating together! And after the big day is over, the relationships continue to grow. Ultimately, that is what you've been after, and that is the most important thing. So yeah. Why wait for the wedding? Start this process now, and by the time your wedding arrives, your question will have long been answered.

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  19. I also say invite him. But even more importantly, give yourself a little stress break on the issue and wait until you are no longer calling your partner boyfriend, and instead calling him fiance. Trust me, there will be a deluge of other stressful family issues and logistical nightmares to deal with once you guys are "officially" getting married :)

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  20. Question asker here! Thanks for all of the input everyone. Sometimes you just need some thoughts from total strangers, because there's no neutral party involved ya know?

    I am super blessed, adoption is awesome and also a bitch. (if any of you EVER adopt, please read up on it. Books like Primal Wound or Journey of the Adopted Self.) I don't know what I'll do or how I'll do it, but I do love what all of you had to say.

    I want as much kindness to be involved in that day in my life as is possible, so my gut tells me he'll probably be there. :)

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