“I didn’t want you to be embarrassed at school by having a different surname from the rest of your family, so I took the difficult decision to walk away.
These are the words a friend of mine heard from his biological father when he contacted him after 40 years. I guess 40 years ago there was a lot more stigma attached to divorce and the children of divorcées. Things have changed in our society: these days, you’re more likely to be in the minority if your biological parents are still together. My friend grew up knowing that the man he called Dad was his stepdad and loved him unconditionally, but took the decision to find his biological father a few months ago.
It’s amazing how quickly he found him. After a little bit of research, he narrowed it down to two guys and wrote a letter to each. Within moments of opening the letter, my mate’s dad was on the phone. One letter from son to father was all it took to reunite them.
My friend let me read the letter his biological father sent him after their initial phone call. It explained why he had left, his thoughts behind that decision, and how over the years he had tried to find his son just to see how he was doing and if life had been good to him. What I read were words by a man who obviously loved his child and loved him to such a degree that he chose to give him what, at the time, he determined to be the best possible start in life. He concluded that in order for his child to be happy, he would be better off without two dads confusing family life.
Reading between the lines, you could tell that this father hadn’t forgotten about his son but had obviously talked about him to his new wife and children. There was no secret, no skeleton in the closet. When contact was made, the father’s new family was equally excited about meeting their half-brother, delighted for the father to be reunited to his son.
What struck me the most was the way the letter ended. It was abrupt, with no signature and no closing. It seemed this father was unsure how to sign himself off: love, regards, yours sincerely…what would have been the most appropriate? How do you express emotions whilst seeking to take things one step at a time?
I’m really excited for my mate – excited that after all these years, he gets to meet a man who has loved him since the day he was born and that they get to change the outcome from that 40-year-old decision.
I’m excited that they have years ahead of them to express the right closure.