Discovered on my own at 35 dad is not really dad
Nobody ever told me and nobody ever was going to tell me. The truth had been so well hidden that perception had become reality and for all intents and purposes my brother and I’s dad–was our dad. And this was something that was never questioned and never was going to be questioned. In fact, even the idea of questioning whether your dad is really your dad is just not something most kids ever even think of.
So why at 35 years old (last summer 2017) did I decide to suddenly, out of the blue, decide to ask my mom such a bizarre and shameful question–is dad really our dad?
When we are kids sometimes we encounter an incident larger than ourselves. Something so big that our young brains can not process it. We file it away somewhere in our subconscious and as we go older maybe it ends up getting sublimated into something as insignificant and unrelated as the habit of biting our nails, or my personal favorite–folding the bottom lobe of my right ear into my inner ear. (For some reason my oldest memory is that of trying to get my older brother to share in my guilty pleasure of folding that soft lobe of the ear into the inner ear).
Memory has always been a big part of who I am. I have every significant memory of my life documented through a song from that period, and anytime I want to escape, I put my headphones on and slide into my time machine and play mixes from all the major era’s of my life.
There is one such song that happened to be on my playlist last summer. A sweet, innocent song from the golden years of my childhood–Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now”. Visiting my old hometown last summer, I was even singing the hook of the song to an old girlfriend of mine as we spoke nostalgically and walked along the shoreline of a river in our city. I was going to be visiting my parents home in a few days, for the first time in a year or so. Now that I work abroad I live totally independent and don’t share much face to face time with my parents.
Flashback to when I must of been 7 years old and Weird Al Yankovich’s parody “I Think I’m A Clone Now” is playing on the radio and my brother is repeating obnoxiously in the back seat–“test tube baby, test tube baby”. I can still remember where exactly we were riding in that car that day with my mom. Strangely I remember everything. I remember her excessive reaction, how disgusted she was, how she turned off the radio and scolded my brother and I for making fun of such a thing. “How people are born and brought into this world…” She went on. I felt so guilty and it wasn’t even my fault, I’d been unfairly scolded and punished. Only laughing at my brother’s antics to humor him. The truth was I loved Tiffany’s original song and thought the Weird Al song was stupid. But something much deeper was imprinted in my brain that day. My mother’s reaction was so over the top and unusual, and the detail at which she defended her feeling of disgust over the song was as if she had some first hand knowledge of “test-tube babies” or the various ways “babies were brought into the world”. I filed this memory away and never forgot it.
Then this last summer, it was an otherwise normal day at my parents house when this long subconscious thought submerged itself with full force into the frontal lobe of my brain. “Today is the day I am going to find out for sure whether or not my father is really my father!”
I started by asking my mom some warm-up questions, “Why don’t you compare my photos with Dad’s side of the family much?” And Mom passively suggested, “Oh, well we just don’t have many photos from your dad’s side.”
Okay, fair enough. (But today I was going all in)
I continued…”Okay, how about this. Dad was married for 5 years before you with no kids. You and dad were married like 8 years before you had children. Why so long and no kids?
She replied, “Well, he kept saying he wanted me to finish school. So that’s what I did.”
Okay, fair enough. (I was weakening)
And then came my last desperate question, “Well, are you sure you guys didn’t have any fertility issues”.
–And this is where the 35 year old lie would finally fall–as Mom mistakenly replied—
“Yes, I had some things done,” as she walked into the other room.
The words rang in my head, like a Chinese gong struck and lighting up a city with electricity.
“Clearly my question was in regards to the both of them!!!! Oh My God!! It is true!! My father is not my father!!” I thought as I followed her into the other room.
It was then I asked her pointblank if she had an artificial insemination–and the rest is history. 35 years of being left out and the truth that my dad is not my dad came suddenly like the shock of the sun to the man in the iron mask.
The fallout was not good. My brother (also as it turns out, donor conceived) was angry at me for telling him. His reply was priceless, “This is true because you wanted it to be true!”
Really? Because of some lingering adolescent father son rebelling, I’d been holding out hope dad wasn’t dad… and that hope had festered so much so that I’d secretly willed this thing into existence. I doubt not. Unless of course, I am a God and have the power to will such things. Or unless my life is really just a dream of my own making. But aside from a self-centered Earth theory, my brothers take on the matter is probably inaccurate.
And that’s the story. It turns out my real father is an anonymous medical student from a Medical University Hospital. The University and the conception Dr. never bothered to return any of my calls. Generally, the response I get from people on the matter is. “Oh, well I will pray for you. Maybe you should see a psychologist about this.” Or even more simply they just ask me, “does it really matter?”
The answer to that question is a resounding yes! I never could of fathomed there are people out there who think that it is okay to lie to someone about who their father is, or that the whole issue is somehow “not a big deal”. Since finding out I had this incessant urge to contact people from my past, old girlfriends, past friends and family–and sometimes even strangers. Part of it is a feeling as if I should reintroduce myself to the world, and another part of it is me trying to make sense of a matter so surreal. I have been completely blown away by the amount of people who try to convince that it is “not a big deal”.
Another thing my family and people I talk to seem to be unable to understand is that it is not the procedure or being donor conceived that haunts me–that would be like wishing I were not born. I have no ill will towards my biological father either, other than the surprise that someone would be willing to father children unknowingly, and what that might suggest about their character. Other than that I am grateful for the parts of me that I now recognize have always been from that mysterious donor. There have always been certain qualities within me that I respected but that I never knew the genesis of until now.
Before finding out the truth of my donor conception, I never thought of what the significance of “finding out dad is not really dad” might mean. I only ever thought of it up to the point of wondering, “what if my parents are hiding something?”
Now I am coming to grips with the next step which is the adventure I am now on to find my biological father, and even if never found, to recognize that out there somewhere there is another man who was/is my father.