Father’s Day and Paternal Abandonment

Missing my GrandpaGrandpa is in White. I have no idea who the other guy is!

Suffering a Serious Lack of Grandpa’s Around

I won’t be sending my father a Father’s Day card. I won’t be talking him out to dinner or buying him a Father’s Day gift. My children will not be making him goofy pictures telling him what a great grandpa he is. He doesn’t know their names. He has never seen them. My children do not have a grandfather.
In fact the ONLY one who really has a real active in your life Grandpa is Max. There. That is the one thing that adoption actually gave my son that I could not; a grandpa. ( though that’s not 100% true; Max would have had real memories of MY Grandpa who only passed away in 2000 when Max was 13) Garin’s paternal grandfather passed on before he was born and Rye, who technically could produce THREE possible Grandpa’s ( horrible step father – who is now thankfully dead, bio father – I met him once when he came to our wedding, and current step father- who doesn’t really go out of his way to bother with my kids) …no grandpa’s.

While I have long come to terms with the lack of a father in my life, I would be a fool and a fibber to say that it’s always cool. Sometimes, it’s actually rather shocking to think how much time has gone by.

Fifteen Years; One Conversation with My Dad

The last time I spoke to my Dad was in 1997. My mother had just died. We purposely waited until the funeral was over as the thought of my father even daring to show up was just too much. If I could have avoided talking to him at all I would have, but we had stuff to settle My brother was just 14, the house deed was still in both my parent’s names even though their nasty divorce was finally final.. I didn’t even have a phone number to reach him at since he was usually in hiding from my mother and child support. I think I was still in shock since my mother had just died or the full insult of having to call my great aunt just to have her ask my father to call the house would have stung more. There are only so many emotions a person can handle at once.

It might have been 15 years ago, but I still remember the conversation:

  • Me: We had to find you and get in contact.
  • Dad: Why? What’s up?
  • Me: Mom died so there is stuff to settle.
  • Dad: I’m hit!
  • Me: What?
  • Dad: I’m hit1 I’m Hit.
  • Me: What are you talking about!?!
  • Dad: I’m in shock. I’m surprised. I’m hit. What happened? Was she sick?
  • Me; Yeah, she had fucking cancer for the last two years and she died. Here, talk to Aunt Lynda.

I think if I could have thrown the phone I would have. Did I mention it was 1987. All the damn phones were still attached to walls with cords then. As I write this I can still hear his voice in my head “I’m hit. I’m hit” really? WTF kind of expression is that!

The Last Time I Saw my Dad

Ten years before I made that call was the last time I physically saw my father. It’s funny as it is my last memory of my dad, but one of my favorite stories about my mom.
They were in round 25 of divorce hell. It went on for years and I think there were 5 lawyers between the two of them. At one point, my father had stopped sending my mother child support for my brother and my mom realized that the car he was using was still registered in her name. This was probably about 18 months after Max was born and I was back on Long Island, living at home and going to school full time. Since I was finally driving and needed a car and my mom couldn’t afford one for me and there was a serious lack of responsibility for my dad, my mother decided that truck was hers and she wanted to get it and give it to me.

The one glitch in the matrix was that dear old dad was hiding out in Vermont and we had no idea really where he live. .. only a post office box. That didn’t stop Mom though, oh no way. We drove up to Vermont, found the post office and she wormed the physical location of his house from the post master. We ended up driving to his house and literally creeping around checking it out since he was not home or at least the truck was not there. The “truck” in question was an early Nissan King Cab – so a little beige pick-up with jump seats and it had had a cap on the back. We found the cap of the truck, but no truck so we decided to go back into town. Thank God we left when we did since HE was coming UP the road as WE were going DOWN.

Literally, we missed him by minutes. We both squealed and screamed and then laughed from the close call. Mom wanted to turn right around and go back, but I remembered all too how vicious their fighting could be, so I begged her to continue on to town and get the local law to come with us.
We were actually waiting for the state police to arrive at the bed and breakfast we were staying at to go back to my dad’s and claim the truck. Of course, my mother had all the paperwork proving herself as the rightful owner of the truck and the cops had to comply. The only thing they said was that if my father told them to leave, they would have to as it was private property. Mom was nervous about that. I was nervous that my father probably had a gun, or two.

It was really a blessing to see the police show up at pretty much the same moment that my dad drove back into town and parked the truck across the street at the liquor store. I can still see his face as he walked out of the store. I was leaning against the front bumper of the truck with a shit eating smile across my face. He looked surprised. He looked confused. And he said “What are you doing here?”

To which I replied with great exuberance,”We have come to take the truck!”

Blah blah – my dad was pissed, his girlfriend even more so, mom was righteous, the cops were apologetic and helped him empty his crap out and offered to give them a ride back. I don’t think anyone even said good bye. They just drove off.

There was one moment however. One brief second where I think my father remembered that I was his child, that I was someone he might actually care a little bit about, and that maybe he even loved me. After I had made my grand pronouncement, he came over and actually hugged me. He did that thing, where he held me at arm’s length and made some noise about how long it has been ( It was a good 2 to 3 years since the last time he bothered to visit us), how much I had grown, that I was a grown up now.
Then, it was like a veil came down and I was forgotten again. He was busy being mad at my mother. I was, by extension, just a pawn of my mother’s evil scheme and just as bad.
I learned to really drive a stick shift in that truck because I was the one who had to drive it back to Long Island.

I suppose if you only hear these two anecdotes, you might feel bad for my dad, but he was all sorts of screwy!

They Called Him “Crash Corrigan”

NYPD "Crash" Corrigan

My father was a NY police Lieutenant and I grew up hating words like 4 to 12 because that meant that I had to play quietly as Dad was sleeping. It meant that Christmas parties were held in precinct basements, where dads locked kids locked in jail cells and fingerprinted us for fun. He apparently was also quite a thorn in the NYPD’s side. He was quietly forced to retire while I was still in high school after some involvement, I believe, in this case  I can’t find any record of his involvement with Eleanor Bumpurs, but I remember it being a really big deal.

He had to leave the force AND turn in his firearms or else he would lose his pension. They also very explicitly forbade him from carrying a gun in New York State every again. The NYPD is NOT known to do THAT.

At one point during the divorce, my mom had my uncle do some soothing on him. My uncle had covered the police and fire beats for the Daily News for over 20 years and had sources on the inside of internal affairs. I believe the unofficial final NYPD view on “Crash” went something like this “He had a problem with Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, homosexuals, women, drugs and guns”. I knew he was a bigot and a racist. I think it was at this point that some of the stories about him shooting vending machines came out. I was completely confused by the thought of him being a drug addict. I just couldn’t image what drug as nothing made sense. Needless to say, it was pretty much confirmation that he was pretty screwed up.

Childhood Memories of My Dad

It’s weird because I think I had a pretty good childhood, but I have very few good memories of my dad. I know he resented me. I remember him being embarrassing and mean. I have a crazy fear of guns that I attribute to him. And a handful of friends can still attest to his bizarreness since they too remember the nasty collection of Polaroids he kept in his dresser draw: images of freshly shot, dead, dismembered, beat down people. I think, after I hit puberty, he had some nasty thoughts and hated me even more for causing them. I’m pretty grateful that he choose to treat me like shit rather than molest me or something. Jack Nicolson kind of looks like my dad and kind of bugs both my brother and I out. Hitler reminds me of my dad. See, not really good memories.

As a parent myself, I know that no one is perfect. I know that everyone is screwed up, carries their own baggage and are just doing the best they can. Too many years have passed for me to really be angry about any of this, but I don’t know if he ever really did the best he could. Maybe? Whatever. Maybe he was / is just really damaged?

I understand the fear of having some sort of damaged DNA running though your cells. I often end up thinking of my dad when I hear an Adoptee discussing the fear of searching; that good old “what if she’s a horrible person/ drug addict/ crazy/ fill in the blank.” For the longest time I really used to fear that whatever was “wrong” with my dad would show up in me, but even now, believing more strongly in the power of genetics, I reckon I’m going to be OK. The ugliness should have shown up a decade or two ago. I know we can’t pick and choose what runs through our veins, but it looks like the the good nose, pasty white Irish skin, and the smart genes that let us test well in school is what my father has bequethed us.

My father has chosen not to know me. I don’t know if he ever really did know me even though he technically raised me from birth to about age 16 when he checked out of the marriage and my life. Sometimes I do think that one of the reasons I get along with adoptees so much is because of my dad. I understand that rejection.

He knows where I am. He knows my phone number. He could easily Google my name and find me, yet I fully expect to not even be informed when he dies. I doubt that anyone in his life even knows my name. I believe he is living someplace outside of Vegas still. I looked him up on one of those people searches a while ago and got a phone number, but I really don’t have a need to use it. I don’t trust him to be good to us. I don’t trust him to be truly loving to my children. I don’t trust him as a father or grandfather. And that’s that. I haven’t seen my dad for twenty five years and I live with it.

Here’s to Better Daddies!

I will be buying Father’s Day gifts for Rye. I will be getting after the kids to make “best dad in the whole world” drawings. We will allow THIS Daddy to do whatever he wants on Sunday. I might have had a lousy dad, but I broke the cycle and at least that one thing that worked out real nice. My children have a fabulous father who accepts ALL four of them. And that is better than good enough.

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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine, Adopt-a-tude.com, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

4 Comments on "Father’s Day and Paternal Abandonment"

  1. The irony of my situation is that my n-mother was forced to give me up for adoption so that I would have a two-parent home. My APs got divorced and for most of my childhood I was raised by a single mother anyway. Only this time I wasn’t related to her. It drives me crazy when I still hear the rationale today that adoption is better for a child since it will give him or her a two-parent family. It’s not realistic to expect that to last given the high divorce rate nowadays.

    I never really had a father so Father’s Day isn’t even on my radar.

  2. JenniferJ | June 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm |

    My husband and I were just talking about this very thing…how we will do differently from our parents. My kids will know that they are loved, and beautiful and perfect just the way they are. I wish so much that I felt that as a child and teenager. That I wasn’t an embarassment. Maybe I wouldn’t have thought I wasn’t good enough to raise my first-born daughter.

  3. Anonymous | June 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm |

    Girls,young lady’s and women need there fathers. This is one of the biggest problems in our society today!! One day I watched the Liam Neeson show where he goes to get his daughter in france who has been kidnapped twice. I just wish my fathers was even 1/10 of the character in that show. I know it’s just a movie but every father in this world should be there no matter what for there daughters. My father was not there when I gave up my son. He was a coward and let my mother take over. I have confronted him 20 years later and he does admit it. If he had only stood up and been the man he needed to be and protect his daughter. I would not still be suffering so much pain 25 years later. Happy Father’s day!

  4. My husband is being made to feel that he’s not a father for NOT giving up his daughter. Imagine that…

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