“I believe your father is my father”

There isn’t too much to report from my childhood. It’s when I started having kids of my own that i started asking questions. I grew up in a small Texas town just south of Dallas. My parents were married before having kids. My dad worked to provide for us while my mom raised my sister and I. My dad being from San Antonio and my mom from Illinios, we split our vacations between the two places. My grandparents on my dads side were quite older. Something that we had grown up knowing was that my dad was adopted at birth. Our grandparents adored my sister and I and in a sad turn of events we didn’t get to say goodbye to them before they passed away. That’s a story for another time. They gave my dad a great life full of love and adventures.

I was living in Pennsylvania after having my second child when I sat at my computer one day and started to think. Where would I find my dad’s biological family? It was something that I had thought about on and off for a couple of years. Being adopted from birth presented not just a small inconvenience in the search, but there were virtually no avenues to explore. It also wasn’t something that we discussed openly with my dad. I called my mom seemingly hoping she would somehow have a magical answer for where to look. Bored at home with two young children, I explained to my mom that finding his family had been on my mind and that I wanted to start searching. She hesitated. I was almost wondering if she was going to come out and say she knew who they were when she dropped a bombshell on me.

My mom started to tell me a story that she had heard from my dad while they were dating. The details were hazy for her, but she remembered that my dad had told her that before he moved to Dallas from San Antonio, a woman told him that she was pregnant and that it was his baby. The woman said that she wanted him to have nothing to do with this baby. My mom recalls that he brushed it off and made it seem as though it may not have been true. She didn’t really even remember why he told her this. He then moved up to Dallas to start his career and subsequently get married and start a family. I was speechless. Could this be true? That was all the information that my mom had.

Fast forward 7 whole years. It was always at the back of my mind but it wasn’t something I could ask my dad about. Even if I did, would he tell me the truth? It was a normal night in 2018 when I received a call from my sister, Leslie. I was already a little worried that she was calling me but what she said next had me completely speechless. She proceeded to read a Facebook message she had just received for a woman named Jenny. “I believe that your father is my father”. I can’t even remember what else my sister said on that phone call, my head was spinning. After she finished reading the message we just kind of sat in silence trying to figure out what to say next.

Leslie isn’t very good with words. She is an introvert by nature and i could tell this was a little too much for her to handle. I told her that i would send Jenny a message back to continue the conversation. That conversation was where I would find out heart breaking details of Jenny’s life and her journey to finding Leslie and I.

Jenny grew up being raised by her grandmother. Her biological mom was a partier and ultimately enjoyed that scene more than raising a child. The story goes, early on before my dad moved to Dallas he learned that he had a child and that she was around the age of 1. Jenny’s grandmother described my dad as being so excited to meet his baby. He went back to tell his parents but they did not approve of this. They said he would be better off if he was not a part of this life and he agreed with them. To understand this a little better you have to know a little background. My grandparents were very religious. They had to maintain their specific social status as well. They completely controlled my dad and his thinking. He then left for his job in Dallas, taking this secret with him. My grandparents died in 2006 and 2007, taking this secret to their graves as well. Jenny grew up knowing my dads first and last name. When she turned 18 she found his phone number for our home phone and called him. She had waited this long because she did not want him to think she wanted anything monetary. On that phone call he told her that he had a family now and that he did not want anything to do with her. Reading those words shatter my heart. How could the amazing dad that was there for Leslie and I all of our lives do this to her? Jenny explained that she was not mad at him, that she had grown up to accept everything that had happened to her and she was just grateful that she found Leslie and I. She hadn’t thought much about him until she was bored one snowy day and her girlfriend the time suggested that she look him up on Ancestry.com. To her surprise she found out that he had two daughters.

Over the next couple of days I tried to process this new news. I met with my mom who didn’t have much to say except that she felt so sorry for Jenny. My parents are still married but have that sort of relationship where they just do their own thing because it is easier to stay married than to seperate their home and belongings. My mom and sister sat down with my dad that night to tell him what had transpired. The next night, I was over at their house like i usually am after work at least a couple times a week. He met me in the kitchen where he said something to the effect of “So I hear you found out you have another sister”. He was so nonchalant, I was angry. I wanted answers so I started to explain the story she had told me. He confirmed that all of it was true. Because my dad was adopted, he developed this mindset that you should not go looking for your biological family. That you are basically dishonoring the people that raised you if you are wanting to find the ones that gave you up. He didn’t understand why she was reaching out to us. He didn’t understand the pain he had caused. That was that and I knew that we would never be on the same page about this.

Over the years my husband, kids, and I have gone down to San Antonio to meet Jenny. We are great friends now and we will even be attending her wedding in November. Leslie hasn’t met her yet but will soon. I keep my relationships with Jenny and my dad separate. I don’t speak with him about her and he doesn’t ask. I don’t think our relationship will ever be the same.

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Michelle Stuart

Stories about kids, family, life and everything in between. My name is Michelle and I am a mother of four!