An open letter to my (now deceased) biological father, whom I never met

Posted by: ST on January 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

How is it you can cry over the death of someone you never knew and had never even met? You can if you’re me and you’ve just found out through a little Google digging that the biological father you never met passed away six months ago.

Well, it’s not entirely accurate to say I “never met” him.  He and my mother were only married six months.  I was born after they divorced.  According to mom, he came around to visit the first year, year and a half or so of my life but after she starting seeing and then eventually married the man who I always have and always will call my “real dad”, he stopped coming around, lost touch, and basically dropped off the face of the Earth.

I didn’t find out until just before I turned 13 that my dad wasn’t my biological father.   I was numb for a little bit but strangely not sad, because I loved my dad, still do, always will – he and mom have joked for years that I was one of the main reasons they got married in the first place (mom said he was really good with me, and he thought I was adorable, etc).  He is the only dad I have ever known and even after I found out the truth about things he was the only dad I wanted to know and that has never changed throughout the decades.    He is the one who has always been there for me and mom and my family.  He supported and raised me as if I were his own daughter, adopting me when he and my mom were married so I would have his name.  I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

The last 3 decades or so I was never really curious to find my biological father; even finding out through the grapevine that he had children with the woman he married later in life – which meant I had half-siblings – didn’t make me any more curious.   Part of it was due to suppressed anger and hurt that he had never reached out to me (as far as I know – and I know my mom would not have kept him from me), but the bigger part of it was wanting to leave old wounds unopened.  I didn’t want to hurt my mom and dad even though they told me they would have understood completely if I had wanted to try and locate my biological father.   I figured it was something best left alone.

I’d like to think maybe he felt the same way and that’s why he didn’t reach out to me, but I’ll never know now.  I’ll never know what he looked like, either.  The one picture my mom had of him she tore up out of  resentment and hurt, something she has since told me she deeply regrets doing.

The short obit I read about him didn’t list a cause of death, so I assume it was due to old age.

When I found out the news today after I did my Google searches, I cried.  Not because I “miss” him – I never knew him.  I cried over what could have been, the questions that could have been answered, had just one of us reached out to find the other.   I will have to learn over time to forgive myself for being too selfish in my own life to do that.  But I’d also like to let him know that I forgive him, too.   Writing is an emotional outlet for me, so this is the best way I know to do this.

So, sir,  if you’re in that good place upstairs where you can read this, please know that I forgive you for your absence from my life.   Even now, I can’t bring myself to call you “dad” – I only have one of those – but I can bring bring myself to let go of that anger and hurt deep inside me.  I have to let it go. I’m sure you had your reasons for not finding me,  just as I had mine for not seeking you out.  If God blesses me enough to let me into heaven when the time comes, and you’re there, too, I’ll make sure to ask.



Your daughter S.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

13 Responses to “An open letter to my (now deceased) biological father, whom I never met”


  1. Susan says:

    Crying with you after reading that. Love you. ((((ST))))

  2. Chris says:

    I never knew my father. He and my mother were divorced before I was two, and I have no memory of him, just some publicity photos I wrangled from my grandmother. I knew I had a different last name than my mother and brother, but it didn’t occur to me for some time my stepfather was just that. I was never that curious about him, because, like you, he was never in my life. I knew from grade school that I had a half-brother besides the one I grew up with, but I thought of him rarely, if at all.

    I developed a lot of anger after my stepfather and I never really connected. He wasn’t abusive, but it was clear that I wasn’t on the same par as his own son. I inherited my father’s predisposition to addiction, and that, combined with my attitude towards the world, led me into all kinds of trouble. Eventually I went into treatment, and was able to forgive my father thanks in part to some particularly acute role-playing. I did not want to become him for my own son.

    My father called me, once, after I was married. He expected me to recognize his voice. He was full of grandiose plans that were probably alcohol-fueled. I never heard from him again. He died alone, an alcoholic to the end by all accounts. I was supposed to receive some effects of his from the hospital, but that fell through as well. I have heard from his second wife, and we exchange Christmas cards. I met my half-brother once, when he was in the state to visit our grandmother. It is very difficult to feel a connection with people who are complete strangers to you, despite their biological connections.

    And yet I understand your grief at what might have been, at the relationship that might have enriched both of our lives. Most of all I am saddened that he chose to throw away the possibilities that were open to us, but especially to him. I too have forgiven him, long ago, which ironically was of much greater use to me, of course.

  3. Dana says:

    My parents were divorced when I was in the second grade. My mother had three children to rear (I am the oldest), and our father found child support to be more of an option than an obligation. My mother never remarried, so we grew up without a father around at all, not even a step-father.

    My father? He’s really nothing to me, and I don’t know if he’s alive or dead; if he’s alive, he’d be 81 years old. My sisters have different last names now, but I’d be easy enough to find with a google search; he’s never bothered. It was his choice to leave, and with that come all of the consequences of that choice, three children who don’t know him and don’t care about him.

  4. Brontefan says:

    I was 42 when I met my biological father; the first year & a half of phone calls and letters and packages [I sent] were fun and exciting. Then, he moved closer and the reality bubble of the man I wanted to believe in was burst. I learned a few things, that one sister & brother out of the four of us, weren’t his children. I discovered the secrets, probably I should never have known. I’m not trying to dampen your thoughts or visions or dreams or anything you feel about your biological father. I am merely stating that sometimes the reality doesn’t live up to our hopes and dreams. It took about six years to learn some of the not-so-wonderful realities about my biological father. When I discovered my father was driving my children around in his vehicle with no seat belts–he didn’t believe in them–I had to stop allowing them to spend time with him. Sometimes things are better left unopened. I think I would have preferred to imagine him than to discover he was not the man I had hoped he would be.

  5. Thanks for that! My father passed away when I was 8, and while my mother did have other loves in her life, none ever stepped up and acted as a role model for me. There have been many of those moments when I mourn the loss of ‘what might have been’ as you so aptly wrote. There are moments when it has been discouraging and has left me feeling separated from my peers and even from society as a whole.

    Because of that, my resolve at being a strong, positive role model to my children has been strengthened. Not only to my own children, but I try to be a positive male influence on any children and young adults that I’m in contact with. Of course I’ve made big mistakes, but overall I’m grateful to have an acute awareness of how much we influence people that we come in contact with. For all of it, I thank God.

  6. Dana says:

    Carter, you’re exactly right. I have two daughters, both of them now grown and in the United States Army Reserve, both college students, and their mother and I have managed to stay married and together for 32 years, 7 months and 27 days. It is a whole lot easier to be a good father if you are simply a present father.

  7. Great White Rat says:

    Hugs to you to help you through a difficult time, ST. My story’s similar to Dana’s and Chris’ and Brontefan’s. My biological father took off when I was 4 years old. My mother never got over the bitterness, and as I was a living reminder of him, I heard what an SOB he was on a regular basis. She later got pregnant again and as was normal in the pre-Roe days, married the father. He resented having to support someone who wasn’t his, so we basically barely tolerated each other. I left home at 17 and have never looked back. I’ve no idea whether any of them are alive or dead, and really don’t care.

    ST, you know that your father is the man who raised you, who took care of you when you were a child and sick, who shaped your values. Being a father isn’t a matter of biology, it’s a matter of doing a job. He did that, and that’s why you call him your “real dad”. You’ve really been blessed to have him. My definition of “family” has always been based on love, not DNA, and you’ve never been shortchanged there.

    I can bring bring myself to let go of that anger and hurt deep inside me.

    I pray that you can. Anger for something long gone, and which doesn’t affect anything you do today, will only rot your soul. Please don’t spend time looking in the rear view mirror when life is ahead of you.

  8. Marshall Art says:

    I join the rest in hoping you find peace with this issue totally. Mine passed when I was nine and we didn’t have a full-time father figure at all, my mother never remarrying until we were all adults (except for the youngest who was in high school).

    But this is far different from a father who lives apart from his kids (or a mother, for that matter). I have a few friends who were adopted and they look upon their adoptive parents as all the parents they care to have. But I have two neices who have kids without having married first (too young for that, too) and both are separated from their boyfriends, with the one who just gave birth having given up her kid for adoption just like her biological parents did.

    You are testament to the effects of kids who are abandoned by one or both parents and even though some give up the kid for financial reasons, it seems to me no thought was of potential kids when it would have made the most sense. And the kids always pay the price.

  9. Marshall Art says:

    By the way, I consider divorced parents to have abandoned their kids as well, even when they obtain and exercise visitation rights. Kids need both parents around full time.

  10. Marie says:

    Most of us have one parent or grandparent who wasn’t around or was abusive in some way or another. Forgiveness is key to those who want peace in the years to come. You do not get to pick these people, and life’s instructions don’t come attached to the toe of any baby I know. My father and mother were there but mental illness and alcohol was also lurking about in a time that people just either did not know about manic-depression or buried their heads in the sand while puffing up their prideful plumes. Mom finally had enough abuse and financial ruin over grandiose schemes, and divorced Dad. Separate holidays celebrated with stress and strain from the time I was 38 years old. I made peace with Dad, though it was hard to watch him slowly and yet quickly die of 4th stage lung cancer. I did not have either grandfather; one lost to liver failure, and the other to his own selfish ego. He left my grandmother with 4 children, no child support, and went about having more children of untold number. Our entire family is bent and broken, as each of us has gone our own ways, not walking in step with Jesus. He forgave us all, no matter what we did. Thank you, Sister T for sharing your heart and your process of forgiveness. Very touching indeed.

  11. Lorica says:

    I am so sorry Dear. I do thank God that he gave to you a man who would be Daddy. Hugs :) – Lorica

  12. Baklava says:

    Doing this reply on my android.

    I haven’t had the cry moment. My biological mom committed suicide when I was 5.

    She left in a different way than your father yet there are similarities. I don’t remember what she looked like. I haven’t had any curiosity to find her grave or her family or parents. My dad married and I had a mom who cared about me now for 35 years.

    One thing I want to add.

    I have had girlfriends who wanted to judge me about this. I relate to the non curiosity. It’s interesting to note I kept saying that you need to have lived in my shoes..

    Now I know somebody that has lived in those shoes in a matter of speaking. Our lives are all unique of course.

    Thank you for your post.

  13. Zippy says:

    Sometimes we mourn the loss of the unknown. The what if’s and what might have been. We tend to think of the infinite instead of the finite. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re only human. You were blessed and given a great and loving support system. The burden of connection should never have been on you ST. So don’t guilt yourself into believing that. Very often, a parent who leaves and never keeps in touch feels inadequate in their own mind. Perhaps at some point you might want to connect with your half siblings. It might be more healing to you than you think.