Writer Neta Shlain’s post about meeting her bio dad reminded me how I’ve taken having my bio dad as an active participant in my life for granted. As you read her story, I believe you’ll come to understand the same realization and see how Neta used the experience of seeking her bio dad to grow as a daughter and person.
Despite the fortune of having a wonderful stepfather. I’ve always longed to meet my biological dad.
Ever since I was old enough to understand, I realized something was different about my family compared to others. As a little girl, I had many questions for my mom – how did she and dad meet, whether it was true love, did my dad love me, etc.
The only lasting vision of my father I carried with me through all the years is of him walking around my mom’s friend’s house. He was helping her move as I followed him like a homeless puppy and barking, “Daddy, Daddy!”
All the while Daddy kept ignoring me instead focusing on the work. I finally stopped when Mom gently took me aside and told me to stop pestering him. That was a long time ago; I was four.
After turning eighteen, my mom heard from American acquaintance my dad was looking for me. I never stopped cherishing the thought of a glorious paternal reunion.
I took the old love note from Dad out the fabric sack and kissed its worn corners and letters, then gently folded it and placed the precious paper with the only picture of him I had back close to my chest, under my shirt, right where it was hanging for the last seven years.
“I will find you, Daddy,” I swore, continuing a long-made promise always to remember and look for him. “I will help you find me, now that you are looking for me too.”
It didn’t happen this time. The closest I got was somebody who was supposedly his good mate.
After talking to me, this friend had spoken to my dad. In his response, my Dad said, “He can’t talk to me.”
Dumbstruck, I analyzed his words over and over in a futile attempt to gain understanding. Eventually, I placed his words in the archives of my memories.
There came the point when I didn’t want to think any longer about my biological father. I was fed up, exhausted and had to get on with my life. I buried my memory of him, entering my twenties with the full support of my family – a mother and stepdad, who were always there for me.
I never talked to my stepdad, Sam, about my bio dad before. The first time was after my first child was born.
My son’s birth stirred some very deep emotions. As I looked at my baby’s face, I wondered whether he looked a bit like his grandparents.
With my mom deceased, my estranged dad was his only living grandparent. Although my doubts were high, I felt an incredibly strong urge to meet him.
Opening up about it with my stepdad helped me a great deal. He totally understood and advised me to look him up on the internet. I had done it several unsuccessful times in the past.
But I agreed to conduct another search. Within five minutes, I was staring in disbelief at his address and phone number blinking on my screen.
I probably looked as green as a lettuce, because my husband asked me if I was alright. I just couldn’t believe how easy it was.
This was such a fantastically simple culmination of years of yearning and search I just couldn’t get my head round it.
I couldn’t bring myself to call him. Brimming with emotions, my husband made the call.
The first attempt went badly; the person on the other end thought my hubby to be a salesperson and very rudely told him to bug off. Then I called. When voice message answered, I started telling the answering machine who I was. When I had finished, he picked up.
For the first time in 32 years, I was hearing my Dad’s voice. I was sweating like a pig, excited as “first-time” virgin and terrified like a parachutist who’s afraid of heights. This was it.
I was living right now the moment I was waiting for my whole life. It was wonderful.
We talked for almost two hours. He sounded pretty excited too.
Much was said: no blame, no guilt, just babble; trying to encompass a third of a century into the length of a soccer game through a piece of plastic which eventually was putting an enormous hurt on my ear. Unwillingly, I said goodbye, he gave me his email, and we hung up agreeing to talk again soon.
Within an hour, I was telling Sam about it. I could hear him thinking over the phone.
He breathed heavily as smokers and overweight people do and took his time, as if not comprehending the measure of elation I was given to. “I wrote him an email!” I blurted. “Already???” Sam asked.
Sam continued, “Be careful not to scare him off. You know what your mother says about you…” He was referring to my mom’s constant reminder of considering my moves and not acting on a whim. Another gem of advice that for some reason I have only recently begun to implement.
Although I agreed, I failed to follow his words, yet again. I sent my dad another overly intense email with some crazy start-up proposition.
He responded quickly. He asked me not to contact him ever again, because of his wife’s poor health.
I remembered my mom told me once my Dad’s wife didn’t think much of him contacting his previous children. I wasn’t the only one.
It was hard to bear, to say the least. It took many long conversations with my mother, Sam, and husband to try and come to terms with this new abandonment from my original abandoner.
Sam said something then which helped me make up my mind and eventually set me free.
Once again, my stepdad’s words helped me through a hard patch. Decisions may change. Life’s beauty is in that change.
Was your bioparent estranged and you started looking for them? How did it go when you finally met? Would you share your story? We love to hear it. Please share it in the Comments or even better submit a guest post.