I have kept this blog pretty much on the subject of adoption since I started it. Tonight I am going to deviate slightly for a cause that is near and dear to me. I won’t get into too many details, but I have a niece named Freya. For the purpose of clarity, in this story, I will tell you upfront she is not biologically my niece. She is the middle sister of my biological niece and nephew whose father is my brother. I say she is my niece because that is always how we have looked at her in our family and how she has always known us. I love her the same way I love all my nieces and nephews. You’re probably thinking, “how does this relate to adoption?” Bear with me and you will see. Freya is like an adoptee. She has always lived with her mother but has never known her father. As anyone who has read my blog knows, some adoptees have trouble identifying with their beginnings, their heritage and their identity in relation to it. Freya, even though she has access to her biological mother and that heritage, has no idea who her father is and it is in this way that half of her pictures is missing. Certainly having half of your picture missing is better than the whole thing, but any part of the picture that is missing, when it doesn’t have to be, is unfathomable.
Who is Freya’s Father?
While Freya only knows of what a “father” means through books, stories, movies, music, friends, peers, church, and her siblings father, she has no idea what it means for her to have a father. And none of these means of understanding what it means to have a father is a replacement for the real thing. Freya has spoken to her father on the phone on a few occasions. She has seen a picture of him once, because I showed her. She has never met him, however. I know she wants to. Five years ago she asked her mother who he was and if she could have him.
By now you are probably thinking this is the same old sob story of the dead-beat dad who has no regard for his child’s feelings or the responsibility of being in her life. I would probably be thinking the same thing if I was reading this blog. I had to tell you the things I told you first so you would understand. Freya has a father. He also has seven other children from the ages of 15 all the way down to under a year old. And he has a wife. All of them live under one roof in a sleepy little town in Indiana. His wife is a stay at home mom and he works for the county as a Correctional Officer. And they have been my best friends for almost 20 years. His name is Steve and her name is Marissa.
Wait…hold the phone…
Are you thinking, “Didn’t she just say that Freya’s siblings were her biological niece and nephew? And that Freya’s biological father is her best friend?” Yes, I did. Steve found out that he may possibly be Freya’s father five years ago when she presented her mother with the question of, “Who is my dad?” This prompted her mother to contact me (since I am the Aunt of her other daughter and son and also the best friend of Steve). I won’t bore you with details. What basically went down was Steve acknowledged the possibility that Freya was his daughter, Steve asked for a DNA test to confirm (as Freya’s mother had initially told people the father of her baby was a man she had a one night stand with at a party), DNA was confirmed (2 years after the fact because Freya’s mother didn’t want to get a DNA test for reasons that will become apparent later), Steve was excited to meet and know his daughter, a visit and meeting was planned and then Freya’s mother decided that she didn’t want Freya to have her father, stepmother and seven siblings. She said she wasn’t “comfortable” with it.
Sidenote: It is important to understand that for almost 6 years the father of Freya’s siblings has been fighting tooth and nail to be in his children’s lives after the mother fled state (and a joint custody order) and proclaimed she was not comfortable with their father being in their lives either. Money was an issue in fighting this as authorities did not afford my brother the same rights in regards to parenting time as most mothers would be given if the roles were reversed. After finally raising enough money to secure an attorney and fight this injustice, my niece and nephew are again in their father’s life, but the battle is just beginning and will likely be long.
I’m not comfortable with my kids having fathers.
This is the gist of the sentiment that Freya’s mother radiates. This is why she ho-hemmed for 2 years about doing a DNA test. Once paternity is established, parental rights can be established and Freya’s mom prefers they weren’t. Neither of her children’s fathers have been allowed in their lives. They pay their child support, they WANT to be in their children’s lives, but SHE doesn’t feel comfortable with it. While my brother rages a successful battle in the courts at this moment, Steve does not have the financial means to do the same for Freya. My brother has no legal rights to Freya and it is feared she will get left behind and forgotten about.
Left behind and forgotten?
And so we begin a whole other chapter. There are details I cannot publish publicly because it will endanger my brother’s court battle so I will be generalized. Please, take my word, it is the furthest from good you can get. The house Freya and her siblings reside in is infested with feces, urine, garbage, and dogs infested with Parvo and scabies (mange – and yes it’s transferable to humans). This is just the tip of the iceberg. I am not at liberty to discuss the details of Freya’s siblings medical records because they are private. But I have been told the details. 200 pages of emergency room visits in just a couple of years. 200. Let’s just sum this up. Freya’s safety is at risk. There is a guardian at litem involved in my brother’s case and a plan in place that Freya’s mother has to follow for the safety and well-being of her children. However, Freya is not part of this case and no one in my family, no matter how much we love her and consider her one of our own, has the ability to change any of that.
A “GoFundMe” page has been created to help Steve with the costs of an attorney and travel expenses. He lives in Indiana and Freya lives in Tennessee. I am begging you to please donate anything, something. Any small amount, even a dollar, will help. If you are unable to donate, and I understand if you can’t because I am not in the position to at the moment, please share with your friends and ask them to share with their friends. Freya may not be an adoptee, but she does matter and her heritage is at stake. Thank you so much, in advance.
Notice how I can love a child that is not biologically mine and still advocate for her parent to maintain his relationship with her? That is how it’s done folks.