Father Abandoned Your Baby
You’ve had a baby. You were hoping to start a family together with the father of your baby. Unexpectedly, he left you and your baby shortly after the birth. You are feeling sad, angry, abandoned, and you are worried about being able to raise your baby alone. You need to make sense out of what happened as part of your emotional recovery.
I am offering this post to those of you undergoing this painful experience to aid you in your understanding. The more you understand why and how this happened, the easier it will be to get through this critical period and rescue your love-life. Consider this post one step in a series of steps to do just that.
There are different types of abandoning fathers who are emotionally challenged by the task of parenting their child. I am defining abandonment as a choice to leave a new born baby and mother emotionally and/or financially. One type is the father who cannot emotionally parent his offspring but is able to help financially support the mother and baby in a reliable and consistent fashion.
This individual may have another family, other children with other mothers, be in too much conflict with this baby’s mother, simply be too immature to handle the responsibility of parenting, or all or some of the above. In a way he is making emotional and physical ‘room’ for another ‘father-figure’ to substitute, whether it’s a stepfather, the mother’s new lover, or another family member.
His commitment to provide financially for the mother and baby at a distance establishes the financial support needed to raise the child monetarily. Of course there are instances when a father in this position ‘grows into the role’ of parent over time. For some fathers in this category, being involved when the mother and infant are so exclusively bonded is difficult to tolerate. Feelings of rejection are common for some fathers in this group.
They feel abruptly separated from their lovers (baby’s mother) and left out of the bonding experience. If this feeling of being excluded is overwhelming and needs for love are emerging uncomfortably into awareness, the baby’s father may leave to protect himself and his family from his own emotional over-reactions.
There are some abandoning fathers who are interested in assuming some parenting responsibilities while shunning any significant financial responsibility. It is a challenge to understand the motives of a father who tries the maintain regular contact with a baby without assuming financial responsibility for the baby. If the issue is poverty, that’s understandable and excusable. If it’s not the lack of money then what is it? Perhaps they don’t see it as their responsibility. It’s up to the mother and her family of origin to take over the lion’s share of support for the child.
There may even hold a belief that they are owed something and should not be ‘stressed’ by demands for money when such a beautiful baby was given as a ‘gift’ by the father to the mother and her family of origin. Fathers who I have treated in this category were often struggling with needs for love left over from their own disappointed childhoods and adolescence. Being present emotionally was a thinly disguised attempt to get their own needs for love met by their lover turned new mother.
In the last category are fathers who abandon their offspring emotionally, physically, and financially. They simply walk away. Their job is done. They see their role as siring the baby and nothing more. Having a baby has special meaning to these men. I think a lot of them have poor self-esteem and insecure feelings about themselves. Creating a baby establishes their worth through virility if only temporarily.
These men never had the intention of remaining with the mother or her baby. And there’s a good chance they’ve had and will have more than one baby with more than one woman. In my experience these fathers are still immature and unable to handle the responsibilities of committed love and nurture. Their inability to commit to the mother and child leaves a lot of room for another man with sincere interest and emotional availability to join this family.
As the single mother of an infant, your first responsibility is to secure financial support for your infant. Nothing can be allowed to interfere with that goal. How easy it will be to accomplish this goal in negotiations with the father of your baby is going to tell you whether you’ll have to pursue him in the legal system. It’s really not about you and him. It’s really just about your baby. Babies need money. Having a baby is a long-term financial commitment with the goal of turning this newly born person into an adult.
We have to protect the innocent and vulnerable. We have to take care of people who for a good reason can’t take care of themselves. Babies are definitely in that category. It’s common for a single mother to feel rejected and victimized by this kind of co-parent abandonment. They can easily lose their ‘nerve’ under these conditions. Taking your baby’s father to court feeling unsure about yourself can feel like an overwhelming proposition to say the least.
Single mothers at this stage of parenting are usually struggling to separate how they feel about their new born from how they feel about the baby’s father. Seeing the father in their baby’s face and features doesn’t help. They also have the task of establishing themselves as a competent capable parent without the emotional and physical presence of the father.
Most single mothers in this kind of situation realize how important it is to establish a support network (family & friends) for their baby and themselves. Once a single mother starts to establish this foundation she is in a better position to tolerate and endure whatever ‘grieving’ she will need to do to let go of her feeling of rejection and disappointment.
The eventual goal is to rekindle her love-life with someone else who can accept her and her baby as a ‘package deal’. There is also the matter of her emotional history and how it might get played out in her love-life. At some point, a review of just how she ended up with a man who could not make a family is an important inquiry for her. For example, our family histories often get repeated in who we take into our love-lives.
If you can recognize a ‘pattern,’ a match between what you experienced in your family of origin and what you ended up experiencing in your adult love-life, the next step is to challenge the pattern while trying to implement something different for your love-life. This is an emotional investment you’ll make in yourself as well as in your baby’s future.
Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan
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My baby’s father has abanonded her entirely at 4 months old. He paid support once, only to satisfy the court. He has two grown sons he’s paying support for, as well as they’re health insurance and cell phones. Why do you think a man would pay out so much for adults and not take care of a newborn?
found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later
When I got pregnant, I immediately told my partner of 3 years about it, with high hopes of marriage. I was stunned when he told me he’s already married with two kids. I had to face my family alone as well as their fierce, and eventually they have accepted what happened and warned me not to do it again or else I have to leave. I had to continue with my work because I need money for my vitamins, pre-natal checkups and tests, and for the preparation on giving birth; and worked overtime and on rest days until I was on my last trimester. I faced the intriguing looks from everyone in the office, and let my friends make up stories to answer questions. As work is far from home, I looked for a place near the office, and I had to live alone. It was hard. I often cried when I wake up in the middle of the night suffering from menstrual cramps and had to help myself up to ease the pain. I pitied myself when I see expectant fathers with their pregnant partners during check ups, while I only have my friend with me. The baby’s father, however, still continued to communicate through SMS, which I ignored most of the time. He visited me only a couple of times in the whole duration of my pregnancy. He couldn’t help me financially as he also has to raise his children (his wife left them years ago for another man), and also he couldn’t be with me as much as he wanted as one of his sons is autistic and needs his full attention. Imagine the emotional stress I’ve been through. But I had to be strong, and indeed I’m stronger now.
Mary, Thank you for your commentary. I sincerely appreciate your interest in my website. Your story is inspiring to us all. You know the old wisdom that says, surviving hardship makes us stronger and wiser. From reading your comment, I know this has happened to you. I also believe that experiences such as yours can enrich a person’s future love-life. If you believe in the wisdom and strength it has created in you, the next love-life experiences in your life will be changed by that belief. I think it is very important to learn as much as we can from previous love-life experiences that did not go as we expected. Questions like what do I want to avoid next time I decide to let someone into my life? What will I do differently? I am a great believer in the power of maintaining consciousness. When we become and remain aware of these concerns our love-life experiences naturally improve. Best wishes to you and your child, Dr. Jordan
I’m feeling rejected and lonely…sometimes even a little suicidal. He left me then he left my baby too. Hasn’t met her either, doesn’t call , doesn’t ask about her either. My heart feels heavy and broken… why did he leave us ? I’m so sad and depressed.
Go to your nearest emergency room or psychiatric service for an evaluation and referral for treatment. Don’t delay, do this for yourself and your baby. Dr.J.
How do I get closure , if there wasn’t a good bye …not one reason to explain his abandonment. I’m having a hard time grieving. I’m in the limbo.
You need to find a professional person who will help you through the pains of abandonment and grief. It’ll be the best investment you’ve ever made. If the grieving starts to turn self-destructive seek help at the nearest emergency room immediately. Dr.J.
Hi, i am so sorry you are going thru this,my daughter is going thru this now and she’s ready to have her baby in August,it’s awful how these dads just pick up and go and cut you off, after reading your comments, my daughter needs counseling now because of this, she is having a rough time like yourself..he promised her he would be there for her and they were engaged to be married as well.., but being he is in Canada and she is here in the states, when she came back this past March, that was it, he wouldn’t speak to her again, i tried reaching his mother several times, but she won’t address me at all, it’s very sad, they are in their late 20’s, so they are not teenagers…i wish the best to you. altho i know this post may be a little old…..Diane
What ended up happening with your daughter’s baby’s father?
My soon to be ex husband and I were no more than one week physically separated from a very short marriage – Just weeks – Before he decided he didn’t want it anymore, and that was that. There were things that truly began to surface, Jekyll and Hyde behaviors and he was emotionally and the day he left, physically abusive, towards me. When I told him I was pregnant, he attempted a reconciliation and was angered to discover I still wanted a divorce, and the only way I’d be willing to work through it was if we both entered into individual + couples therapy.
I contacted him periodically throughout the pregnancy to keep him abreast of everything. He was so indifferent and I thought this was just towards me…Surely he could separate myself from the baby, and that once the baby was here, it may be different. After all, that’s what everyone told me; “Give him time.”
I gave him time and I was eventually met with the request to not contact him unless an emergency – I was told which numbers I was ‘allowed’ to call, at what times, do not send ultrasounds(he moved 1000 miles away), etc. I left him alone for 3 months. At 32 weeks I developed gestational hypertension and also had to undergo monitoring 2x a week for a medication I take that could cause IUGR. I informed him of this and it was a quick conversation.
About 2 weeks before my due date he contacted me out of nowhere and said he’d be there in the delivery room. I called back and told him no; That he could be in the hospital, come to the house afterwards, even stay the night so long as I had someone else there with me, but my pregnancy was stressful, and I needed support in the delivery room, and given that we don’t even speak I didn’t think that was going to happen. Again, he was extremely angry and hung up. By the way, that was the first time he contacted me at all.
A little over a week later I was induced due to the PIH and I called him while in labor. I was in for 24 hours and eventually needed a c section for failure to progress. It was a traumatic birth and it took them a long time to be able to pull my baby out; He had wedged in my pelvis and swelled. The trauma and swelling caused (temporary) deformities so great that there was concern, along with a few other characteristics, that there may be evidence of a genetic disorder. I called my husband and told him everything I knew 2 hours post delivery. I told him to come down. He said he didn’t know what to do, if he wanted to. I simply hung up the phone.
After 6 days in the NICU, lots of testing which all came back quite favorably, it’s a matter of waiting on genetic test results now(and the prognosis is no longer so grim), my little boy got to come home with me. He’s 12 days old now, doing really well at home. and we’ve yet to hear from his father. In fact, last night I called, quite upset, and I got the little recorded message that his phone number is disconnected.
This is all new, scary, just…overwhelming. I have a FANTASTIC support network. But I cry a lot. I look at my son’s beautiful face and I’m just baffled that someone could bail on their own flesh and blood…Especially someone who expressed such a deep desire for children. And worse yet, how they could know their child is in the NICU and not even call to get an update…see how he is…He has NO clue that he is home, thriving.
When he’s sleeping I google things…That’s how I came upon this…I know I am not alone out there unfortunately, and while I wish no one had to go through this I am at least secure in the knowledge that others have gone through this and come out on top.
I believe wholeheartedly I will harvest all the strength to my name and create a beautiful life for my son and I…It will be bumpy as I get through this, especially early days, but we are so loved and supported…I will make sure that while he may not have everything he wants, he has an abundance of everything he needs.
Hello. Thank you for your comment and use of my blog. I’ll call you Violet. Your comment moved me. Your son is a lucky boy to have such an intelligent and insightful mother. In time he will find these qualities in you and prosper. Remember, your baby is a ‘unique individual.’ He is not you or his father. Your task is to discover who he is in the course of his life with you and beyond. As for his father, some men are so ‘damaged’ that they can only set up a situation of neglect, abandonment, and loss in the lives of those who try to love them. This story existed before you and it is not your responsibility to fix. Your job is to take care of your son and yourself. Also, some men have so little to give, and what they have is so negative, that their greatest act of love is to ‘stay away.’ For you, I would say it is time to heal yourself. A therapy for you that strengthens your self-esteem and makes corrections in the area of men and love, will make you and your son happier and healthier. Given the nature of your comment, I am convinced that you know and accept what I am saying. It is time for you to heal the present loss and whatever earlier losses were triggered (unresolved) by this experience. Your tears are telling me this work is needed. Your story is painful but hopeful. You have lived through a situation that can teach you what you need to know to grow yourself. Good luck with this Violet. In my mind, you are an exceptional person. Best wishes to your son and yourself. Dr. J.
Some girls deserve it. Some girl got pregnant by my husband when me and him were having problems. The point is that I found out about her again only 14 months later, he showed me that he regretted her and never ever goes out and when the bastard was 11 months I found out about him. I prohibited my husband from ever bringing that bastard here or let anyone know about him and my husband is doing it. He said it was a fuck up and it will not happen again. She knew that I was having problems and tried keeping him with a bastard
Thank you Melina for your comment. The situation you describe is understandably hurtful and a source of anger and resentment. In my opinion, there are many situations just as you describe where it’s better that a man who fathers a child with ‘regret’ allow other people to do the raising of that child. This would be healthier for everyone concerned. When people are forced to do things they don’t want to do it often ‘poisons’ the lives of everyone involved. Next, trying to get a man by having his baby is just a bad move, and I can see how the other woman might have taken advantage of that time when you and your husband were having ‘problems.’ I’m hoping your husband keeps his promise to stop cheating. I would suggest that you and he think about making some ‘changes’ in your relationship that will help ensure that his promise is kept. Things that will bring the two of you closer together would be a good place to start. The only other problem would be if the child, when he or she grows up, finds out who his or her biological father is and comes looking for him. This sort of thing happens because sometimes people have to know. Thanks again for your comment. Dr.J.
I have a problem with that harsh comment that was posted by Melina. I understand the hurt and devistation that you are going thru, however your husband is definitely to be blamed for cheating and being dishonest. I feel very sorry for the child that got caught up in this nonsense. In the end i feel as though it’s your husbands responsibility to father the child financially and emotionally. If you are willing to forgive him i think you are going to have to accept the child at some point.
So sad how you blame the woman, and not your husband. You should Be ashamed of yourself. It took two people. And you will have to forever live with that idiot husband of yours and knowing that you chose him. And it sounds to me like you actually know the woman. And just the way that you’re talking …..maybe you’re the one who actually deserves to have all this happened to you.
How can you call a precious baby a bastard when you know dame well you are just emotionally removing yourself from who that baby really is which is an innocent baby. The baby is not the mother or the father, just an innocent baby. How pathetic do you sound mouthing off a child.
While I can understand the pain of this married woman’s experience, casting judgement on another woman, a mother and her child is not the solution. And while it’s true that it’s a huge misstep for a woman to try to “keep a man” by having his baby, we do not know that this was the case. Situations can be easily misconstrued, especially by men who have the option to walk away from fatherhood and who benefit from creating a narrative that shrugs all responsibility and accountability off of themselves
Thank you very much for this article. I now have terminology to label some of what I am feeling.
My baby is six months old. Glorious, wonderful, brilliant, and a gift. I can’t help but feel disgusted with myself, like I let her down for letting this happen. He knows of her and has had a paternity test done. Nothing has changed. I’m conflicted. She’s so spectacular, I want to scream from the rooftops how proud I am to be her momma… how fantastic and magic she is and becomes everyday. How can he not want that? How is it that he hasn’t told anyone about her? A secret to his folks. I have their contact information but really that is not the route I will take. That doesn’t mean I get itching to do so on occasion. I cant help but dismount with the obsession of thinking about this guy not coming out of the woodwork. There is a lot to swallow here. The anger, sour feeling in my gut, sadness for my daughter. But I can do this. I can and will raise a strong young woman. Your article really helped heal some of my distress. When you termed it “grieving”… that hit the nail on the head of the day to day lingering pain. Thank you for writing this and in such a caring, non-blaming manner. You’ve helped a great deal and I am very thankful. I trust things to get better now and it’s his loss… my gain! Reframing is in the works and I appreciate the push you inspired. Thank you.
Jade I totally relate to feeling disgusted wit yourself for letting this happen
I am in a similar situation and I feel so guilty for getting pregnant by a man who is abandoning his child. I feel like it’s my fault my daughter is in this situation, even though I know I’m unable to change the man.
How are things now?
My child’s father is in the last category. I asked him to be careful since I didn’t believe in abortion. Looking back I think he intentionally got me pregnant. But when I told him he begged me to get an abortion. When I refused he got angry and started pushing me away. By the time I was 4 1/2 months he cut off all communication In order to date a 16 yw old. He was 26. I originally told him I would do it on my own, but he assured me he would be there and provide support. He has 2 children by 2 other women. I didn’t think he would abandon me completely. It has been 6 yrs, I’m married with additional children, but I still struggle. I’ve never allowed myself to grieve and now I don’t know how. I’m an emotional wreck anytime I catch a glimps of him. I’ve heard he’s changed and regrets what he did, which only makes it worse for me. But my husband is “daddy” and I won’t ruin his life or my son’s just because he’s had a change of heart. Thank you for article. It actually helped me understand a little better
Me and my boyfriend meet three years ago. We rekindled our relationship last November . When we first meet he was so nice , and charming . He lived in a different city , but the past year he came to visit he stayed for two months . I’m 29 years old and I’ve never lived with a guy before , he was the first to move in. He was the sweetest guy I ever meet . Me and him went to church , my family likes him , we even got tested , I taught him how to cook. He seemed like the perfect guy . Shortly after he became very controlling . He became physically abusive. We planned my pregnancy and also planned to buy a home . The first time he punched me in the face , I left that night and never saw him again. He tried to get back with me and tried to make the relationship work . I informed him to give up his rights . I felt like his presence would not do any good for the child . He hasn’t seen me during my pregnancy since I left him. At one point I started to talk to him on the phone . He still seemed like the same mean person . He cursed me out badly . I just want to know that I have made the right decision to move on and not let his daughter in his life . I don’t feel like she will be safe around him . He has a nine year old as well . And she seems afraid of him too .
You are so brave. You absolutely did the right thing!
you did the right thing and I admire you for sticking to your guns!
I can’t believe I didn’t read this article sooner! This is the BEST ADVICE I’ve found covering all of these concerns in one place. I never considered my “love life” once I discovered I was pregnant, during my pregnancy nor post-partum. Thank you for reassuring that these concerns are manageable and overcome-able and that there IS a possibility for new love to enter when you become a “package deal”. You definitely boosted my confidence as a single mom, not looking for love!
I’d love to hear your story!
My son turns 4 this year and has never met his father and I haven’t seen or heard from him since a few days before my 20 week scan.
It wasn’t until it was too late that I found out he’d lied to me about the amount of kids he had and what a surprise, they’re by all different women! Apparently, just like he did to me, he has a habit of charming women, making them fall for him and his lies about wanting to have a life and a baby with them, but they get cruelly abandoned almost as soon as they tell him they’re pregnant.
My son’s smart enough to understand that most families have a mummy and daddy, but luckily for me, he’s never asked where his daddy is or why he doesn’t have one, but I still worry about what to say when that day does come. I don’t want to say anything that will turn him against his father, just in case they do eventually meet & his father becomes a proper daddy to him, but I also don’t want to lie to him.
Hi Curly Sue, Thanks for your email. Sorry to hear about your son’s father. Some men have been taught to abandon their love partners. There is probably a history behind his tendency to make babies without parental commitment. With your precious son in mind, remember we are all unique individuals and no matter who our fathers (or mothers) are we are special individuals each and every one. When its time, your son will need to know that and I’m sure you will raise him with love and the right guidance. Especially in the area of valuing a love commitment when he grows up and meets the person he will fall in love with. I would suggest to you that you get good at figuring out how to identify people who have trouble with commitment and/or are unavailable for a love relationship (even though they might act like they are). I’m hoping, when you are ready, that you find the right person who possesses the ability to commit to love both for your son and yourself. In the meantime, male siblings, male friends, men with a good heart and the right values should be in your son’s life. He will look up to them, and learn from them, with your blessing. Don’t talk bad about his biological father in front of him. And if his biological father wants contact at some future point, make sure it will be healthy contact. Your son does not need lessons on abandonment and disappointment from his biological father. If you’d like to read something that can help reinforce these suggestions, consider my book Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life. Take care, Dr. Jordan
I loved this article, it really nailed the entire topic of me as a single mother. I want to ask myself why I ended up with that guy in the first place since he is nothing like me or anyone in my family. My family is financially, physically and emotionally in their lives. This guy I had a child with can’t keep a job more then 3 months and is not physically or emotionally involved. He calls to talk to me and I have to ask if he wants to talk to his son. I just don’t want to ever end up with anyone like him again and go to a therapist that sort of understands but I just don’t feel like she really does so it’s very annoying. She does do EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) which helps the brain move traumatic experiences from the emotional side of the brain to the logical side of the brain and I will keep you posted on this outcome of how it works on my being a single mother situation. Although there is no real trauma the emotional detachment thing from my son especially bothers me. I hope and pray it doesn’t do any damage to him much less me.
I was good to read this. My twin children are 13 and their father left us when they were newborns. Saw them a couple of times then just stopped calling or texting without explanation. It makes closure very difficult for myself and very difficult how to answer my children’s questions. They get sad and find it awkward trying to answer their friends questions at school. Completing their family tree in school was really hard for them too because they were the only kids who knew nothing about half of their family.
More recently my daughters friend actually didn’t even believe that she “didn’t have’ a Dad. So to check she scrolled through her mobile phone contacts and there was a no “dad” listed, and it made her so sad! (The friend). My daughter didn’t really care. She has no concept of having a paternal relationship.
I just tried to look at the positives, it left me relatively free to raise them as I wanted. But the abandonment has stayed with me and really affected my self esteem. So many unanswered questions. In 13 years we have heard not a single thing from him or his family. I cannot understand how they live with themselves. I have so much anger towards them but I try and let it go because its a destructive emotion.
I think I might seek a therapist to work through things, Like I said I have tried to focus on the positives, but the abandonment was cruel and I’ve only recently come to realise the emotional scars it left me with. And then if I can find a way through it all, I’ll be in a better position to help my children too.
Much love to all the Mums out there dealing with the same. You are beautiful and strong women! Xx