Are You Sure You Are My Dad?
Five years ago after several months of searching my sister located our biological dad. Unlike most people in the modern world he was without an email address, Facebook page, or a phone number listed under an Internet search engine. She found him because of extensive papers he wrote about Irish history in Pennsylvania historical society archives.
After an emotional phone call we made the decision to meet in Philadelphia where I was born and raised so he could sit down with us and explain why he gave up custody and disappeared for three decades.
I thought the experience would be healing, but it just left me with more questions, specifically if it was possible he was not really my dad after all.
Here were some issues:
WE DON’T LOOK ALIKE
My dad has dark hair, brown eyes, and skin that tans in the sun like my older sister. My eyes are dark blue like the sea. My hair is blonde and my skin is the color of someone who was born and raised in Antarctica.
HE OWNS NO PHOTOS OF ME
He has collected books of photos of the Irish countryside, my sister, and Catholic churches across America, but not of his second born child.
“This is a picture of your great aunt Stella,” he explained. “Is it though?” I asked. “Is there anything you are missing in that stack?” I asked, “like a photo of the person sitting across from you?”
HE DOESN’T KNOW MY MIDDLE NAME
“What is your middle name?” his girlfriend asked. “It’s Marie,” he answered. I had to explain it was Suzanne, which is my mother’s name. “That’s what her mother told me,” he said while raising his shoulders.
IS THIS WEIRD?
But then I started to wonder if he was operating on all cylinders. He wanted us to go see his Catholic church so he could see that he had listed our names in the prayer log the last few months. “Everyone here knows me,” he said. “I am very involved.” Do they know you abandoned your kids?
HE SPEAKS WITH A FAKE IRISH ACCENT
He has an Irish brogue and a mastery of Irish colloquialisms. He likes to talk about his ancestry, his various efforts in the Irish peace process, and his fond memories of his sophomore and junior years spent at a boarding school in Belfast. It’s a little mystifying considering he was born and raised in Philadelphia.
This is a picture from his junior year track team photo. It was in Pennsylvania. (He is fourth from the right on the top row).
HE HAS A NEW NAME
He now goes by the name Liam, even though his name is Paul.
So I started to wonder if I should put all those episodes of CSI and Law & Order to good use by collecting his straw at lunch and using it to collect a DNA sample. But he never took the wrapper off the straw.
And then he was offended when I suggested we send away for a DNA kit. “Why would we do that?” he asked. I don’t know, so I could figure out if we are actually related?
I am left with hope that my mom had a brief relationship with Robert Redford one summer and has kept it a secret all these years. “Isn’t there a chance you forgot about one night with another man?” I asked her. “It was the 1970s!” “Unfortunately no,” she responded.
I still hold out hope. Maybe he’s not really my dad?
Does anyone want to adopt a mother of four children?
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