Meeting Mr. Right, who is not Dad
Introducing a new parent figure into a child's life is a big step that many of us has been through. An urbanMama recently emailed, seeking your experience and perspective:
I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter. I have been separated from her father since she was 15 months old. Since that time he has had NO interaction or contact with his daughter. We have no legal statements of custody (legally, I believe this means that we have joint custody. All of his parental rights are intact.) He has had NO visitation, pays NO child support. He and I do not even speak; not because we are uncivil but because when we separated we separated completely.
I have recently met the man whom I believe I am going to marry. We have talked about him adopting my daughter. Does anyone know anything about the adoption requirements in the state of Oregon? I am assuming that my daughter's father will have to sign adoption papers if we wish for my current boyfriend to legally adopt my daughter.
More importantly, has anyone had experience with integrating a father figure into a young child's life? My daughter has never known a father, although she has recently begun to ask things like "Where's my dad?" and "Why don't I have a dad?" as she has started to interact with friends who have both a mother and a father. I'd love to hear anyone's story, advice, opinion, etc about introducing a father figure into her life at this age. I have no intention of expecting her to call this new person "Dad". He and I both feel that if that day comes, wonderful but that is something we will let her come to on her own terms. But how do you EXPLAIN the role of father if and when she asks if this person is her dad? I believe in being honest and fair with her. I'd like to be able to answer her questions as honestly and as safely, in terms of her development, as I can. I know I don't have all the answers. So, I'd love any support or advice anyone has to share. Book recommendations are always appreciated! :-)