When I was 14, I needed to get a passport for a youth group mission trip to Mexico. Normally the passport process isn’t too big a deal, but it ended up being a decent stressor for my parents. You see, in order for a 14 year old minor to get a passport, you need a birth certificate. Well my mom, knowing that I was an enterprising, if sometimes naïve, 14 year old brat (never her word), knew that I would most certainly notice a name on the paperwork under biological father that I hadn’t seen before. So after much worry and fret on Mom’s part, I sat down with her and my dad and they told me something I had kinda known for a long time. Whether it was kids in elementary school asking why I had a different last name than my mom (I have her maiden name) or kids in middle school asking why my dad was 5’9″ and I looked like a hairless teenage Sasquatch, I had kinda always known that he wasn’t my biological father. However, I had always known he was my dad.
I got to spend my first Father’s Day with the most gorgeous two women. I lounged around, ate waffles, watched a movie, and read my new badass cookbook (Meathead: the Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling). I even took a hammock nap with Claire and Roo in the 80 degree Lubbock sunshine (thanks Bear Butt Hammocks). Despite my ludicrously busy schedule (lol), I somehow found time to peruse all the awesome social media posts for Father’s Day and also got to FaceTime my parents a bit as well. Somewhere between the hashtags, maple syrup and bovine muscle diagrams, I found myself reflecting on the past four-ish months of my own fatherhood journey. From the instant I saw Roosevelt’s face my world was completely changed. Since then, I have barely missed a giggle or squirm from this little ball of fun and I can’t imagine that my life even existed before Jan 30th, 2017. I had a fantastic Father’s Day with the two women who gave me that name.
I was reminded today that my own Dad wasn’t around me when I was 4 months old. He missed his first Father’s Day because he and my mom were only acquaintances then. Instead he had to jump in feet first to fatherhood a little before my first birthday. He has loved me with a fierce passion and care ever since. He opened his heart to my mom and me 25 years ago when it was just the two of us, and I can’t imagine our life without him in it. My dad taught me how to stand back up when I fell down, how to work through the pain and bullshit of life and still come home and clean up the dishes in the sink, and he taught me how to love other people through the hardest times. He is not a perfect man, but he is very much a perfect dad.
A few weeks after Rosie was born, my dad told me he felt like his work with me was through. He said that he was so proud that I now had my own baby girl and knew that I was ready to be a father on my own. I still called him last week cause our plumbing was clogged. Somehow I doubt that his work will ever truly end.
When I was 18, a close friend of our family coordinated an adoption for my dad and me. We signed papers and got to appear in front of the Judge. I was declared legally the son of Charles Wilson Martin IV. I didn’t always legally belong to him, but I do now. There’s even a new birth certificate. It has his name on it.
Just wanted to say a special thank you to all of the fathers out there raising children who haven’t always belonged to you but do now, and thanks to all of the moms who have to be both roles when there is no one else.
I also wanted to thank all of my other “fathers” for their love and lessons over the years. Bill, Bob, Butch, Duane, Stephen, Kenny, Kade, Dennis and countless other coaches, teachers, mentors and friends along the way as well. Love to you all.
This post is not at all about biological fathers and is strictly meant as a tribute to my dad. Since my adoption I have gotten to meet my biological father and have appreciated him and his family. We are infrequently in touch, but not because of animosity or any reason other than being busy and living far apart. I honestly hope we have more opportunities to build a relationship. He is a great Dad to his two girls. I was blessed to grow up without the disruption of regularly splitting time between parents, and the arrangement worked well for our family in ways that it can’t with others. I think that in some instances and circumstances, giving space is the better option.