Men Talk Articles - June/July 2015

Confessions of a Bio Dad after 30 years

– © 2015 Harry Greenberg

Scene I

It's hot. And I mean hot. I bet you don't remember the temperature April 19th, 1985 or you rarely give it a second thought. That's simply because it wasn't a momentous occasion for you. It was for me. That was the day my son arrived in this world. He was obstinate about coming out. We (his mom and I) all too well remember walking the halls of Fairview Riverside Hospital with the drip drip drip of the pitocin IV nary making a difference. She was a dedicated member of the prodromal labor squad... and this baby, though full term, was not happy about entering this world.
Well now he's here, and honestly 30 years later, it's difficult to tell if he's any happier about being born into this world than the day he was born. His life has not been easy, nor predictable. Drug use, homelessness, commitment, it's all part of the record. His SSI check makes it unnecessary for him to hold a job which is a mixed blessing. He's hard to read and harder to know. Sometimes I'm welcome and sometimes he dismisses me. Right now, I'm persona non grata, but that too will pass. And he will ask for a small favor that involves currency. This all sounds depressing but really there's an upside. He's a white male with lots of privilege and a chance to make his life whatever he chooses. And he's as healthy too- no medical problems causing him to curtail any of life's activities. So there you are.

Scene II

OK... After Jesse, there was not much time to think about more children. He was a handful and much later (at 15) he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome among other things. But life has a way of reminding us that unless one does something drastic (vasectomy) there's always a possibility even when practicing birth control! So almost four years to the day Max came along.

To tell you the truth, I don't remember what the temperature was on April 7th, 1989. There was way too much drama during this pregnancy. Max was born at home as his mother insisted he would be, and we kept the midwife very busy what with the dog jumping on her stomach at inopportune times! He was jealous and the baby wasn't even born yet! Max had some initial issues (blue-not breathing) and the midwife kept pleading with us "talk to your baby". I was in disbelief at his color and the words seemed stuck inside me. Frankly I wasn't feeling terribly conversational at that moment. He had to be suctioned out very quickly so his lungs could start to adjust to working on their own. Initially, we wouldn't at all sure he would pull through but now he's 26, so he's quite the survivor. Very soon will be on his way to Hawaii leaving Minnesota and the snow to the rest of us cold weather aficionados who celebrate and relish turning blue and frostbite.

Max is a free spirit and reminds me of nothing so much as myself. Of course not a day goes by that I don't hope and pray he doesn't repeat all my foolish mistakes which were borne of ignorance and not seeing my many blind spots. Hindsight is 20/20 of course but how many 26 year olds (boys in particular) have the emotional tools to see or recognize their blind spots ?

I am now 60 and they (those pesky blind spots) keep turning up, lurking here and there. However some of them are probably hidden just beneath the placid sea of complacency. In any case I feel with 7 billion souls roaming the earth, what harm could adding two more possibly do? And one day you may unwittingly meet them!

Harry Greenberg is a perpetual Anger Management facilitator at the Men's Center and a licensed clinical therapist. You can find him at