Biological “Father” – Part 3

As I dialed the numbers, my hands trembled.  Not that I was afraid to talk to him like it was the first time we spoke, but I wasn’t sure what to expect now that he was a free man, with free will, and with the ability to make his own choices that weren’t necessarily dictated by the solitude that incarceration brings.  Would this phone call be the beginning of the end now that he didn’t need to stay connected to someone in order to have cash flow into his commissary, or would it simply be a new beginning now that he had the ability to communicate with my brother and I as much as he wanted?  I hear a weird beep on the other end.  Phones ring differently when you call different countries.  I didn’t know that.

Beep………Beep……….Beep……….

“Ah-lo?”

“Si, soy yo, Samantha” – It’s me, Samantha..

“Quien? No se hoye bien…” – Who?  I can’t hear you well…

It’s your daughter, Sammie!!!

“HOLA HIJA!!!!  How are you!  How is everything!  I’m finally free! Free to do so many things!  Tell me, how is everything?!”

Our conversation began.  He asked about the kids and how they were doing because the last time we had spoken they weren’t born yet.  I told him that they were getting big and that they were beautiful and smart and funny, and one had red hair and blue eyes like my wife and one had brown hair and brown eyes just like me.  I was so excited to brag and share about them.  I also told him about Mary and how we would possibly be adopting her and how she is such a special part of our lives and our family.  He seemed happy to hear that we were doing something so important, taking on someone else’s kid and the responsibility it took to keep her safe.  The irony in that statement.  He asked me about my partner, and I had to correct him several times and say that she was my wife, but he still doesn’t seem to get it. He asked when my brother and I, and our families would be coming to the Dominican Republic to see him.  I told him that it would be difficult to go this year because 1) I am pregnant to which he literally cried! 2) Mary can’t leave the country without a passport, and although her mother is OK with signing all of the required paperwork, her father’s parental rights are still completely intact, and finding him to sign said paperwork has been impossible (we had a trip to Canada planned with my parents and siblings that ended up canceled at the last minute thanks to having no passport!) and 3) Passports are not cheap.  With Callie’s name change, the boys BOTH needing passports and at about $100 each, not including airfare, hotel and car rental, it would cost us well over $4,000 for a week, and that’s just not the type of money we have lying around.  That’s not even including spending money, because with our father not having a job…well, you see where this is going.  I told him it would be a while before we visited, but that worst-case, my brother and I would decide if just the two of us would go, and at some later point in time, we would take our families out there to meet him.  I don’t think I’m ready for that anyway.  For my kids to meet him.

We talked about how difficult it is for him to readjust to life outside of prison.  After almost 10 years of being locked, he wasn’t sure what to make of the world around him. It’s one of the first things I noticed talking to him.  I noticed that all that time locked up created a pretty foreign world for him.  I asked him if he had a smart phone so that we could Facetime or Skype or Tango.  He had no clue what I was talking about.  Luckily, the cousin that told me that he was being released would be arriving in DR the next day and would be able to use her iPad (provided they had wifi) to Facetime with him.  Unfortunately, that whole week she was there was no good for me.  The timing was off basically every day, and the one day that I was actually able to FT, I fell asleep on the couch after a stressful day at work. I wanted to help him reintegrate to this “new foreign” world around him.  I asked her to take him to a phone store, find out how much an iPhone would cost, and what a service plan would look like, being that he was gifted a Blackberry with a prepaid sim card.  The grand total for a refurbished iPhone4S with a monthly plan? $150.00 for the phone and $35 for unlimited talk and text.  Data would be an additional $25/month for 4GB of data.  The phone is easy enough to afford, especially if my brother would be on board for splitting the cost, but there is NO WAY with us both struggling to make ends meet, that we would be willing to pay the monthly charges for the phone and add another bill to our already bill-ridden lives.  I sadly had to tell my father that it wasn’t something that I could afford right now.  We spoke for a bit longer, and although as awkward and piecemeal as the conversation was, it was nice to be able to talk to him in “person” and hear his voice.

His brother downloaded WhatsApp for him onto his Blackberry, and since then, he has been texting me almost daily, seeing how I’m doing, asking for pictures of the kids, and of myself.  Wanting to know how my pregnancy is going, and always asking about Callie and making sure that I am taking care of her, because he’s old school and happy wife means a happy life.  He told me that he found a job thanks to a friend of his, installing solar panels at hotels and schools and government buildings.  He told me how difficult it has been getting to and from work without a car.  He asked if we would help him buy one, and that he found one for $3000.  At this point I’m feeling frustrated.  If i already told you that I can’t afford an extra $60 a month, what in the world would make you think that I could afford $3000?!?!  I sent a screen shot of the conversation to my brother.  He laughed and said to deduct it from the $100k that he owes for our child support and now only owes us $97,000 instead.  I had to chuckle at that.  My father has made several comments like this in the past few weeks.  How he has to buy clothes and how he has to buy shoes both for work and play, and that he needs a new car, and a haircut, and do I have freaking Bank of America written on my damn forehead!?  I try not to let it taint the relationship that I have with him, or to blemish this idea I have of potentially one day having this “daddy’s little girl” relationship with him that I never had with my step-dad.  I want things to be the way they were supposed to be, but there is just too much built up.  Too many emotions tied to this one person.  Too much bitterness, and despite how hard I try to work passed some of it, it’s really tough some days.

So far, I gather that he is a really nice man, that made some drastically terrible mistakes, paid for them, and is now really doing his best to acquire everything that he lost.  I’m not gonna make it harder for him to do that, but I’m also not going to put myself out there and have my heart broken, or my kids hearts broken over shattered promises.  My number one job now is to protect them like I should have been protected.  In some of the letters that we wrote, he talked about the day that my brother and I visit him at his home, where he’ll cook dinner for us “so you know that your father knows how to throw down in the kitchen!”, and then we’ll drive to the beach, where we’ll walk across the sand, hand in hand like it should have happened decades ago, watching the sun set over a Caribbean horizon, and laugh and spend our first full day together ending in God’s light and pray for more days. Just. Like. That.  On days where I struggle with the relationship (or lack there of) with my father, I hold that image in my mind. I treasure it, I long for it, I cry over it, and hope that those words that he wrote will one day come true.  I truly, more than anything, hope they do.

father1 father2

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18 thoughts on “Biological “Father” – Part 3

  1. I’m happy to hear things are fluid between you guys since he’s been out. Money & family is a hard thing even when there aren’t tight budgets, especially when someone like your dad might be a bit out of touch with how much it costs to support/raise a family and consistently make ends meet.

    • Yeah….10 years to be away is such a long time, especially in the world we live in now. I kind of sensed that he was out of touch with how much things really cost, and the cost of living is very different here then it is in the Dominican Republic. Making $3000 here is much faster and dare I say easier, than it is in DR, so he probably didn’t even realize that he was asking for a months salary! With $2300 rent, and a car note, and 2 insurances, and groceries and a shit load of other things!

  2. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe how much you look like him. I’m so happy you have at the least been reunited with him, that you can at the very least have a phone conversation and keep each other involved even if miles separate you all. He seems genuinely interested in your life. Happy for you, even if it’s not what you always imagined. I had this image in my head of what it would be like the day I met my biological mother and I had a dream of what our relationship would be like. Both of which were very, very far off from the reality. Some things we have to take day by day. Everything is meant to be and happens for a reason.

    • It’s interesting what we dream about relationships when we are young and sheltered and innocent, and how we dream about relationships as adults after we have some life experience. When I was younger, I alays thought we would go to amusement parks like Disney World, and restaurants, and eat loads of junk food and watch movies on the couch, and spend all of our time together playing on playgrounds and things like that. As I got older, that image started changing to something I consider to be truer. The occasional phone call, dinner here and there, maybe every other holiday for a few hours if we’re lucky. That kinda thing. But you’re right…no such thing as coincidence, because if it was just chance, there wouldn’t be a reason for it.

  3. I can only imagine how this has impacted your entire life, both as a child and now as an adult with your own family. I find it amazing that you are trying to have some sort of relationship with your biological father, I imagine the years of neglect could be irreparable, but it’s clear that you are trying even when frustrated. That’s pretty amazing in my books.
    But, all that said, I also find it a true tribute to you that you know your family priorities and your personal and family boundaries. Clearly paying his bills is not something you can do right now and probably should never be trying to do. And introducing your children to him is probably not best at this time, particularly Mary who is going through her own complicated family dynamics.
    Anyways, I am amazed at your personal strength through all of this. You are truly an inspirational women.

    • It’s funny because my ideas of family and how I treat and respect and protect my wife and children are something that both my Papi AND my Father taught me. I learned from my Papi that family first, even when they aren’t biologically yours, you lay everything down to make sure they are safe. On the other side of that, I learned from my father that no matter what, you never let your family slip through the cracks. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. Both of their decisions have shaped my life in a way that I didn’t expect.

      I promised myself when this whole ting started that if there was ANYTHING that I wasn’t ok with, anything that made me feel uncomfortable, i was done. Just like that. But I see now that it’s not that simple, especially when there are still so many stories to hear, and so many questions to answer.

      As far as Mary goes, I haven’t told her that I met my biological father, but she does know that my dad isn’t me “real” dad. That he adopted me, and that he loves me and my kids (her included) so much! She said nonchalantly, “i never knew you were adopted! That’s cool”…so it was interesting to compare my life to hers in that way and she can see that no matter what there is so type of normalcy (whatever that means!). Thank you for your kind words…one day at a time…

  4. You look so much like him! But lord love a duck – asking you for money like that?! Your brother’s suggested response was hilarious.

    I’m glad that you have this opportunity to build this relationship you’ve been longing for. It may not look like you have pictured in your head all these years, but your emotional maturity shines through, and I feel confident that some day, you’ll get that walk along the sea, hand-in-hand. ❤

    • You know, I think so too. This whole relationship, this whole situation is so new to me. I still struggle with some feelings of guilt (how can I love my dad so much more than my father, and how can I hurt him like this [my dad is super sensitive about this subject]) and also all of the resentment (how could you have disappeared for so long and then expect so much from me!?!), but i’m taking it one day, one conversation at a time. Hopefully, we’ll all go visit on day and hang out on the beach. That would be really nice….

  5. I am glad that you are getting a chance to get to know your father and I think it is important you keep the relationship on your terms. I truly hope everything works out the way you need it to you for you and your family.

    • Thanks friend. It will ALWAYS be on my terms. It’s really MY choice now whether I continue a relationship with him or not. Not to say that he has no say, but really, after 25+ years of being absent, he kinda has no say! So i’m taking it one day at a time…if it’s not good enough for him, well, wouldn’t be much different than the rest of our lives. But i do hope that this relationship gets stronger, that’s something ive always wanted…

  6. I know it’s hard but try not to be too frustrated with the financial requests. I work with inmates and after so long they have no idea how to be self reliant and get back on their feet. The only how they have is the generosity of loved ones after a long incarceration. Like another commenter said, he’s very out of touch with costs in America these days and probably had no sense of all the financial burdens his kids have. Your kindness and sentiments for him after his absence from your life are so heartwarming to see. Many people would just ignore their loved ones after the years of absence. I think you’re awesome and so is your brother. Keep the hope alive and one day he’ll hopefully prepare a yummy meal for you all. 💙

    • My brother and I talked about this very thing. 10 years is a long time! A lot has changed since then. There was no wifi, no smartphones, for $20 at the grocery store you could get a cartful of food. Gas was $2/gallon…things changed, fair to say drastically, and we know that it’s a different culture in there. I’m just trying to be patient, give him time to get integrated back to our “normal” society, and then there is also the difference between the US and the Dominican Republic. They are still slightly behind us technologically, so I’m trying not to take it offensively. I really am just taking it one conversation at a time, and will try and help him as much as I can to get him back on his feet. Thanks for the kind words

  7. I’m so behind on my reading and commenting, but I have to commend your attitude about all of this. You’re approaching it in such a mature manner. Mad props to you. It would be so easy to be a total train wreck!

    • I’m telling you, sometimes, I want to shake him and ask him “ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!” but at the same time, I just feel bad for him…like truly just so sad and bad for him. It’s gonna take time get to that place that we both long for, but no doubt, it’ll happen…

      • I can relate to that so much. I have my own daddy issues and I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought “are you serious?!” There have been so many times when I’ve wanted to just be mad at him, but mostly–like you–I just feel sorry for him. Our dads probably don’t deserve us!

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