Fathers are people too, I was both cursed and blessed with two Fathers through the course of my life. They would over time become touchstones, friends, guides, mentors and ultimately true fathers, dads and daddy.
I was always, from the day I was brought home from the hospital a ‘Daddy’s Girl’. At best I tolerated my mother, but my father, him I adored. The stories that were told of my bad sleep habits, bad eating habits, colic and overall bad temper; all these were cured immediately upon my Daddy walking into the room and picking me up. I slept on his chest, drank from the bottle he fed me and apparently any illness I managed to catch he could cure by a laying on of hands. I tracked him with eyes that did not yet focus, cooed happy sounds if he was in the room but screamed bloody murder at the approach of any other person. Mind you, I do not remember these things thus can only relay the stories I was told.
I was adopted at birth and brought home from the hospital at three days old. My original birth certificate doesn’t have a name, it says ‘Baby Girl’ with my first mother listed and my first father listed as unknown. This last part wasn’t true, my first father was known and had tried with the help of his parents to stop the adoption from proceeding, in 1957 though it was a different world and biological fathers were not afforded consideration regarding their children, born or otherwise.
My ‘Daddy’ and I had an imperfect relationship through most of my young life. In large part this problematic relationship had to do with his absence, not so much his physical absence as his emotional absence from our lives. I spent a very large part of my life trying to get his attention, even as a young adult what I wanted was my father to ‘see’ me. It wasn’t until my father remarried in later life that he and I finally learned how to talk, where secrets of my childhood were revealed and we finally repaired what was broken between us. Even with all that was broken though, I was a ‘Daddy’s Girl’, I loved my father he was my rock, the most dependable person in my world.
When I was 24 I had the opportunity to meet my first (biological) parents. It truly was unlooked for, not something I had planned but a gift. What I found, my first parents had married after I was born; married and gone on to have five (5) more children. It was an unusual circumstance, not something most adopted children find when the files get opened and their ‘birth’ names are revealed to them. By the time I met my First parents they had divorced, both were leading separate and different lives, my first father had remarried, had two step-daughters, a very pregnant wife not much older than me. The first time we met, it was a phone call. A short, stuttering phone call with each of us not certain what to say or how to react to this unlooked reemergence of me or him into each other live.
What is important to remember about my first parents, they and I, we are the same generation; all of us Baby Boomers though born at different ends of the generational curve we were still within the same generation, still had some of the same experiences and same expectations. My ‘grandparents’ biologically were the same age as my adoptive parents. It was a very strange dichotomy we created, when you added to this a sibling group, two sibling groups actually it was a great deal to wrap my head around.
This takes me back to my fathers, two of them. The relationship with my adoptive or second mother was such, broken and toxic would be the kindest terms I could use that finding and meeting my first mother was something I considered a curative at the time. Something that would fill a hole in my heart, I believed since I hadn’t really had a mother – daughter relationship up to that point I would perhaps find what had been missing. The idea I had a father out there, one who was prepared, even eager to meet me had never crossed my mind up to this point and I didn’t know how I felt about it. In truth, I didn’t think I needed or wanted another father, despite truly not having mended all the broken bridges between my ‘Daddy’ and I.
What I found when I met my first father.
- Someone I looked like in many ways, I am a blend of my first parents and you can certainly see me in them. When you line me and my siblings up there is no doubt we are related. I had never looked like anyone before, it was stunning and for months after meeting them I would stare at pictures.
o Gee thanks Dad, love that ass you handed down to me
o Yeah, and those hips gotta love those
o But the cheekbones, I do appreciate them they give my face character
- Someone with a similar sense of humor, until I met my father I hadn’t really ever met anyone who saw the world the way I did and laughed at it. Strangely my Dad had the same sense of the ridiculous, I never knew this was simply built in.
- Someone with the same intellect. My Dad was truly a very smart man, I am fairly certain he didn’t always use it for good, but he did use it. I am so grateful I inherited his intellect, his brain.
o I am also grateful I was nurtured by my Daddy and gained my moral compass where I did, giving me a true sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ even if I did not always apply it to my own life until much later.
- Someone who truly did love his children, all of them. He wasn’t always present, didn’t always do what was ‘right’, he did though love his children and from what I observed they knew it. In later years and with his youngest daughters he was their primary parent, present and very much part of their lives, he and I talked about this once, he called it redemptive.
When I met my first father I was most fortunate, I didn’t know it then and wouldn’t realize it for many years but I was most fortunate to have another piece of me returned. I was also most fortunate to have my Daddy encourage me to seek a relationship with my ‘other’ father. My Daddy was secure in his place with me and felt no jealous need to hold me back, instead pushing me out of the nest and into the arms of another ‘father’.
Both of my fathers are lost to me in this world, but not from my heart. I treasure their contributions to my life, to my mind, my heart, my compass through the world. I am most fortunate to have had them as a measure of what men should be.