My Mom met my father through her friend when she was 19, I call him Uncle Damian. My Dad had left Stockton to come to Santa Cruz to hangout by the beach and sell drugs. Knowing my mom, and knowing how she was when she was a young girl, she probably thought my Dad was cute, cool, and a bad boy. He was half black, tall, and had grey-blue eyes.. a lot of girls around town thought he was pretty cute. My mom and Dad’s relationship lasted a couple months before she got pregnant with me! My mom asked Damian to tell my dad, but my dad was already in some trouble and had to leave town.
When I was 5 years old, the woman he was dating at the time found out he had a daughter and insisted he get into contact with me. That was the one and only time he ever reached out to me.
How did I find him?
It was a few weeks before Christmas, and like I had many times before, I was online googling his name and the city my mom told me he was from, until one day I found some records that had promising information that I could access if I paid around, 30.00 for it. I quickly called my grandpa and asked if I could use his card to pay for it and told him this would be the only thing I would want for Christmas! My grandpa happily agreed, and I went digging through all the records until I found his Aunts number who I called right away, and his Aunt, who had no idea I existed, gave me my grandpa Harold’s number. I called my grandpa Harold, left him a message, and then waited. I would say 10 minutes after leaving him a message he called back and seemed almost excited as I was! He told me my Dad was in jail, but the rest of the family would love to meet me.
Meeting my family!
2 weeks later, 2 days after Christmas, my Mom, Grandpa, and I drove to Stockton to meet my Dad’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and my grandpa Harold. As soon as I walked through the door of my aunt Carolyn’s house everyone said “there’s no denying this one!” Everyone kept telling me how much I looked like my dad, and how skinny I was(ha). What I remember the most was that I could not stop smiling! I was so happy to finally be meeting my family, a family I resembled, and was so happy to be meeting me.
Meeting my Dad!
Fast forward 2 months, in February, I was hanging out with my friends when I got a call from a 209 number.. IT WAS MY DAD! He had just been released from prison and his family, our family, had told him he needed to meet me. The next day with the help of my friends, we drove out to Modesto to meet him. I remember I was meeting in front of a Safeway, and as I was walking up I knew exactly who he was because he looked exactly like me. As I stood in front of him I said “wow you look just like me!” and he said “no you look like me.”
We walked to his girlfriends condo, where I met her and one of her kids, and we sat down to I guess.. catch up. If I am being honest it was pretty awkward because we had no idea what to say to each other, or how to be. He asked me about my mom, and my family, what my life was life growing up. I asked him about his life, my grandparents, if I have any siblings(none that he is aware of), and how prison was. He had just spent 3 years in prison for violating parole and was trying to figure out how he was going to make money, and where he was going from there.
Meeting my dad was something I had waited for my whole life. Growing up the oldest of 5 with my four other siblings having theirs dad’s in their lives(we all have different dads), was really hard because all their dads were there and mine wasn’t. I had my grandpa who took on the role as my father as soon as I was born, and I would have never wished different, but I always wondered about my Dad – who he was, what he looked like, how he acted, if he would have thought the world of me. When I finally met him, sitting there with him, it was the best feeling in the world.
How things are now,
Shortly after meeting my dad he broke up with his girlfriend because he wanted to sell and do drugs again. I remember him telling me how hard it is working for minimum wage when you are so accustomed to “fast money.” I hoped he was going to turn his life around but sometimes people get into vicious cycles that can feel impossible to climb out of. I hear from my dad probably every 6 months or so, less if he is in jail. Since meeting him almost 5 years ago I have seen him, I think, 3 or 4 times.
He is now in jail again, and I know only because I am in contact with one of his sisters(She DM’d me on instagram).
How do I feel about everything?
I am so grateful to have met my dad, put a face to his name, and get to know the rest of my family. His family in Stockton are amazing people who I am always in contact with. They have shown me nothing but love and completely welcomed me into their family the day I met them. I go to Stockton for family get-togethers, BBQs, and they even come to Santa Cruz to visit me. I am incredibly lucky to have this relationship with all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins – especially being that a lot of people never have the chance to meet ‘the dad that left’ side of the family.
Even though part of me wishes I would have met my dad sooner, I am happy I didn’t. I have seen the effect having your dad in and out out of your life has on people, especially young children, and I am grateful I did not have that experience. My grandpa raised me, loved me, cared for me exactly the way a dad should, therefore I did not have any lack of a father.
My dad doesn’t speak to me too often, and really does not make much of an effort. I have drove 3-4 hours to pick him up on a weekday, and when I got there and tried to call him, he had turned his phone off. There have beens several occasions where I have gone out of my way to make the effort for us to have a relationship, but sadly my dad is too wrapped up in “that life” and I don’t know if that will ever change. The good thing is, I am okay with it. I am happy I met him, and grateful that my search to get into contact with my biological father got me into contact with the rest of my family.