• August 20, 2014

Fatherless child offers life lessons

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013 4:30 am

In light of the upcoming Father’s Day, I can’t help but wonder how many people might have the same story as me.

I was born a fatherless child.

My mother and biological father were quite young when I came into this world in the 1980s. They were 19 and 20 years old, fresh out of Army boot camp and serving at their first duty station.

My mother said they “had a liking to each other,” and after a few months of dating found out they were pregnant. Mom took responsibility. He panicked and vanished.

By the time I turned 3, my mother had met and married an awesome guy. He adopted me and I called him “Dad.” His family acknowledged me as his own. Later, Mom and Dad had a baby boy and we were a true family.

Yet, sometimes I caught myself wondering, “If this stranger could fall in love with a child not his own, why was my birth father not able to do the same with his own child?”

When I was 10, my godmother introduced me to my birth father. I don’t remember much about the visit. I know it only lasted an hour and he gave me $10 before leaving. It felt like I was seeing an old friend rather than my father for the first time.

When I was 13, he wrote me an eight-page letter and said he was going to write often. But he only wrote me once.

Five years later, my birth father came to Texas on a road trip. I was a teenager, a junior in high school, named Who’s Who of High School Students two years in a row, in the National Honor Society and an athlete. But I never got the chance to tell him about it. Our meeting lasted just 20 minutes outside my front door.

Fast forward many years. I was in California on a weeklong vacation. My birth father, who lived in California, said he wanted to meet with me and talk. I waited for a call so we could schedule a time to meet. But the call never came and I left empty-handed and hurt.

As I flew back to Texas, I mentally erased him from my mind and planned to keep it that way.

I took his “popping in and out of my life” as a slap in the face. It took me years to finally let it go, but it hasn’t been easy. I began looking at my relationships with men as a form of vengeance.

One day, a boyfriend told me my constant “leaving and coming back into” his life made him want to quit the relationship.

And that woke me up. I was turning into my birth father — the one person I didn’t want to become.

So, to the ones who are in a similar situation, I understand your pain. But don’t feel as if the world is over.

Take this opportunity to become strong, because in the end, only you can change how that one single moment or action affects you and your life.

Monique Brand is a Herald correspondent.

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