Thursday, December 24, 2009

Biological Connections

I am not at all close with my biological father (S), who divorced my mother when I was less than five years old, and moved to California before my Bat Mitzvah. As you can imagine, the years of ugly custody battles and law suits to force S to pay child support did not endear him to me.

When I moved to Israel in 1997, I briefly reconnected with S through email, and that attempt failed after six months, because he did not wish to sustain it. As it stands for me, in the present, I have let go of the confusion and anger with the help of temporal and physical distance, as well as with several years of intense therapy; we email each other once or twice a year, for Rosh Hashana and birthdays.

My mother - derided by the Jewish community as a divorcee/ single parent, when it certainly was not in fashion - remarried when I was seven, and this man for all intents and purposes raised me; I love "Dad" and feel his love as if I were his own from the beginning, and so I have no complaints in the father territory.

When Raphaela was born, I felt I had to acknowledge S for being my sperm donor, so to speak. He was a terrible parent and though basically absent from my life and my consciousness, I must admit and be thankful for the fact that without him, I would not exist. And so I sent S an announcement of my daughter's birth, along with some pictures, because he is technically Raphaela's grandfather. I did not expect him to fulfill the title in any practical way, but he deserved to know.

Today I received a rather generous check from my biological father, for my daughter, his grand- daughter, and being properly trained in the New England fashion, immediately sent out a thank you note. How nice that he can get past his ambivalence toward me, and contribute to my daughter's welfare. My expectations go no further.

I debated telling my mother about this gift, and decided that what she doesn't know won't hurt her, in this particular case. It would spark a discussion of S's financial and mental state, which ignites her insecurities even after 31 years of a loving and nurturing relationship with Dad. Why couldn't he have paid child support when my brother and I were young, and my mother needed the money for basics? And does he think he can buy his way back into my life when he has neglected me (or done worse) all these years, etc.

Families get very complicated.


Rabba bar bar Chana said...

It might not have been ambivalence towards you, but guilt for not being there, that kept him from maintaining the reconnection.

And the check may be similarly motivated.

Then again, I don't know him or his motivations, so who knows what's going on in his head.

Just think of him like a distant uncle who you barely know who sends a check, and accept it in that vein.

koshergourmetmart said...

since you did the right thing, he did the right thing for your daughter. I think it is always good to let relationship go where they need to go. Perhaps, now he is ready to have a relationship with you. If so, let him but let him make the overtures. Do not expect too much or you will be disapointed. Youw ere not expecting anything from him and he sent you a check.