“Dad’s Not My Real Dad?”.

In November of 2004, I had just returned home to Pasadena, Ca after spending two years at a naval station in Rota, Spain. I was home alone with my mom one night and she told me to come back to her room, she had something important to tell me. So I sat on her bed and she said it’s time I knew a “deep, dark, family secret”. Ok Mom, you have my attention. She said that when she and my dad got married they desperately wanted to have a family. After months of trying nothing was happening. My mother went in to see a doctor and it turned out that her fallopian tubes were blocked. After a procedure she had them cleared and thought that was that. After months of trying some more, still nothing. Maybe it was my dad. Apparently, if a young man has chickenpox late in his teens or twenties, the increase in body temperature from the virus can have detrimental affects on a mans sperm count. So….. Shit out of luck and no way to have children my parents almost gave up. But they were determined to have a family and something like infertility was not going to get in their way. Luckily, soon after my parents got married in Santa Barbara, Ca they moved up to San Francisco and found a nice little apartment in the Haight-Ashbury district right across the street from Golden Gate Park. Within that progressive city they found a fertility clinic that had donor sperm for people just in my parents predicament. Sometime in early 1975 my mother went to a clinic in the Bay Area and had my sister implanted. She was born Oct, 1975. A few years later, my mom went back to the same facility, not really paying attention to the name of the place, only that it was somewhere in downtown Frisco, and had me implanted. I was eventually born May 1979. My mother never knew who the donors were, nor cared. Sure, she cared that the donors description was similar to my dads, but that’s it. She and my dad had their family and that’s all they cared about. Fast forward twenty-five years.

My first thought after hearing all this was “dad’s not my real dad?” and a feeling of I sort of always knew, like Leia always had a feeling Luke was her brother. It made so much sense now why I looked nothing like my dad. I didn’t have his hair, his complexion, his build, or a lot of other little things. Why was he three inches taller than me but my feet were a sixe and a half bigger? I had so many mixed emotions flooding through me that I walked outside to get some fresh air and digest it all. With so many thoughts going through my head I had to tell someone. The only close friend I had at the time was my drinking-buddy’s wife from my time in Spain. Not prepared to go into that backstory at the moment, but she was the only one I trusted to vent to. The moment I told her my moms story and speaking the words “my dad isn’t my real dad”, it became real. I fell to my knees in front of my house and cried like a baby. Gone was this ever so simple and plain family I knew all my life; this bubble of a family I had in my head where I thought I knew everything. It felt like half my very being was just deleted and filled with question marks. Now what? Where do I go from here? After a few months I got over it and continued to look at my dad as I always had. My dad. Only problem was my mom didn’t want my dad to know we knew. She thought it would devastate his self esteem and already fragile confidence. My dad had been misdiagnosed with depression much of his life that was eventually diagnosed as bipolar disorder when he was 68, and had bouts with alcoholism and mixing alcohol with anti-depressants which had cost him many jobs over the years. I hated keeping this secret from him but I conceded that it was my parents secret to keep and no one else outside our immediate family knew. After awhile things went back to normal and I went about my days with this major piece of information sitting in the back of my head. As the years went by I fell in love with my current wife, got married, moved to Hawaii, and had our first child. About two years after our daughter was born we noticed she still wasn’t speaking to where a two year old should be. We just thought she was a slow learner. After we moved to Washington State we had our second child, a son. By this time our daughter was still acting irregularly for a three year old. She still was not speaking complete sentences, she was bouncing off the walls, wouldn’t eat anything we gave her even when she was starving and had trouble with constipation. We were finally seen by a pediatric neurologist when she was three and a half who diagnosed her with autism. My wife immediately broke down. I knew she would automatically blame herself for not living a healthy enough lifestyle while pregnant. She made it her point in life to be as healthy as possible while pregnant. She took all the prenatal vitamins, ate right, and she even did Zumba all the way till her eighth month. She was that one super pregnant lady in the Zumba class doing what ever she could to keep up. But all that didn’t stop the guilty thoughts creeping into her head. Whether it was not exercising enough, drinking the local tap water, or taking anti-depressants  while pregnant, she put the blame on herself. I tried to reassure her that there is still no provable cause to autism, I began to look into the fact in the back of my mind that maybe it isn’t her genes, but mine. Our son was diagnosed at one and a half with autism as well, but now we knew and begun receiving services for both kids in speech, motor control, and cognitive therapy. My daughter is now seven and speaks full sentences and is still a fricken monkey with amazing balance and will someday be on American Ninja Warrior. She still lags behind in spelling and reading but that I’m certain will come along as her speech did. My son is now four and is speaking in short sentences but has no where near the issue his sister had at her age. It wasn’t until their personalities began showing did I start to wonder what I am passing on to them that I don’t even know about myself. There was still this empty space filled with “???????????” on my biological paternal side. So, when tax season of 2017 came around I decided to buy an AncestryDNA test to see at least where, geographically I come from. After about 2 months I got the results back that would change my life forever.

 

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