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Who's Your Daddy?

I hold a deep and personal connection to the phrase “Who's Your Daddy.” My father rejected me but I am still surviving and thriving without him. Who had the most disappointing experience with their father? This was a topic of conversation a few years ago at a New Year's Day party with my girlfriends. I won't reveal the details of my friends' experiences with their fathers, but I can share a story about my father.

Who's Your Daddy? article image - Leroy

Leroy

My Father

My father didn't know I existed. I always wondered what he looked like, what traits I inherited from him, and if I resembled him in any way. I often dreamed of him coming into my life and taking me away from the difficult environment I grew up in. Like any child who hasn't met their parent, I had hopes that my father was powerful and wealthy, and would be able to solve all my problems. But more than anything, I just wanted him to love me. After all, isn't it a parent's responsibility to love and care for their own child? I cannot even fathom a situation where I would not love my children.

Father Where Art Thou?

In 1994, at the age of twenty-four, I embarked on a life-changing journey to meet my birth mother, Judy. You can delve into the emotional details of our reunion in my article, which you can find HERE. Fueled by a soon-to-expire free plane ticket, I decided it was time to connect with the missing pieces of my identity – my birth parents.

The void of not knowing one's parents creates an indescribable emptiness. For me, it felt like a crucial part of myself was absent. Deciding to seek out my birth parents was a pivotal moment driven by a deep desire for connection. I wasn't expecting lifelong commitments from them; after all, we were strangers to each other. My simple wish was to establish a connection, to get to know them, and perhaps nurture an ongoing relationship with the individuals who are, biologically, my parents. Was that too much to hope for?bareMinerals
Finding My Father

In 1994, I was working for an international hotel company, pulling in a comfortable salary of over $40K. With a house and a car to my name, I was grateful for my financial stability. Surprisingly, I wasn't on a quest for financial reparations or harboring any expectations of an inheritance.

Back then, without the convenience of Google, my search for my mother's phone number involved navigating through online phone listings. Armed with her name, I speculated that she might have relatives still residing in my hometown of Havana, IL. Armed with this information, I scoured phone numbers associated with her last name. Eventually, I struck gold and stumbled upon a number that seemed promising. With a deep breath, I dialed the digits.

The voice on the other end belonged to a woman whose name escapes me – perhaps my mother's cousin. Undeterred, I explained my mission: the search for my mother, Judy, who had given birth to me at the tender age of 19. To my relief, the lady on the phone was more than willing to help. She provided me with Judy's phone number, sharing warm wishes and a hopeful “good luck” as I embarked on this emotional journey.

My Birth Mother Judy

From my heart-to-heart with Judy, I gathered that she and my dad crossed paths during their college days. Picture this: she's Caucasian, he's African American, and the term “relationship” might be a bit too formal. Let's call it what it was – a classic college connection. They probably bumped into each other at a wild party and, well, hooked up a few times. It was college, after all.

Now, here's the juicy part: Judy spilled the tea that my dad, Leroy, was engaged when they had their little escapade. Talk about complicated! Judy didn't want to throw a wrench into his future or tie herself down with a child. (Quick side note: I'm a firm believer that every dad should know about their offspring.)

To track down my elusive dad, Judy transformed into a detective and dug up Leroy's contact details by sifting through phone numbers of people with his name in the town she remembered him being from –Peoria, IL.

Who's Your Daddy? article image - Autumn Murray Baby Photo

Autumn Murray Baby Photo


Surprise, It's A Girl!

Judy contacted Leroy to inform him that he had a 24-year-old daughter who was living in Atlanta. She reminded him of how they had met many years ago and Leroy was able to recollect their encounter and the year it happened. According to Judy, Leroy didn't seem upset or angry about not knowing about his daughter's existence. He simply accepted the situation matter-of-factly. Judy then informed Leroy that she would be sharing his contact details with his daughter and that she would be getting in touch with him soon.


Getting in Touch with Daddy

I waited a few days before calling Leroy because the whole situation was overwhelming. I finally decided to call him on a Saturday afternoon after pouring myself a glass of wine to calm my nerves. To my surprise, Leroy answered my call and was very polite. He told me that he had no idea about my existence until Judy called him with the news a few days prior. (Surprise! You have a 24-year-old daughter!)

During our conversation, we asked each other questions about our lives. Leroy liked to talk about himself a lot, which was the opposite of me. I prefer to write about myself rather than talk about it. Writing allows me to go back and edit, while spoken words are permanent.

Our relationship was going well, and we talked 2-3 times a month. I was the one who initiated most of the calls. After 3-4 months of talking on the phone, Leroy expressed his desire to visit me in Atlanta. However, due to my unpleasant experience of visiting my mother in Lincoln, NB (which will be detailed in another post, as I mentioned earlier), I did not want to visit him in Peoria, IL. I preferred to meet him on my home turf.

Who's Your Daddy? article image - Leroy 2

Leroy

Strike 1 for Leroy

We talked on the phone and set a date for him to come to Atlanta.  The weekend he was supposed to come he called the day before he was supposed to arrive and said that his car broke down and he wouldn't be able to make the drive.  Perfectly understandable, right?

Strike 2 for Leroy

So, we rescheduled Leroy's visit to Atlanta for about two months later. During that time, we kept the conversation alive with our phone chats. Now, brace yourself for this one – the weekend he was set to hit the road to Atlanta, he dropped a bombshell. Can you believe it? He called on the very day of his supposed arrival and broke the news that he couldn't make it. And the reason? Hold onto your hats – he couldn't get his hair done. Yep, you read that right. The guy canceled because of a hair situation, probably some kind of process, maybe even a jerry curl.

Bizarre, right? But being the understanding soul that I am, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Could it be that nerves about meeting me got the best of him? Talk about a hair-raising excuse!

Strike 3 for Leroy

After talking on the phone for some time, we decided to meet in Atlanta. We scheduled the meeting for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, hoping to spend the holiday together. Since I had never met him before and I wanted to make sure I was safe, I took precautions and asked my friend Rodney (who is now my husband) to meet us at a restaurant and sit a few tables away. I had planned to give him a signal in case things didn't go well and I wanted to leave.

Wednesday:  No call from Leroy and no sign of him. I called his mother, whom I had talked to a few times after Leroy gave me her phone number. She said that Leroy had left for Atlanta earlier that morning.

Thursday:  No call from Leroy and no sign of Leroy.  I was beginning to get scared something had happened to him.  Rodney invited me over to his brother's house where his family was gathering for Thanksgiving since my plans had been ruined.

Friday:  No call from Leroy and no sign of Leroy.  I called his mother and she said she still hadn't heard from him.

Saturday:  No call from Leroy and no sign of Leroy.  I called his mother and she said that she had talked to him and that he was in Atlanta and would be getting in touch with me soon.

Sunday:  At 3:15 in the afternoon, Leroy called me from Atlanta, and I knew this because of the location displayed on my caller ID. At that moment, I was extremely angry with him. Nevertheless, I was interested in hearing what he had to say for himself. He informed me that he would soon be returning to Peoria, and if I wanted to meet him, I should come to the gas station where he was calling from. I asked him where he had been since his arrival and when he got into town. He explained that he had met a young woman at Caribou Coffee and had spent the weekend with her. His words made me furious. However, I maintained my composure and never disrespected him or raised my voice. I simply thanked him for acknowledging me as his daughter and told him that this weekend confirmed that we were not meant to have a relationship with each other. I then asked him not to contact me anymore and wished him a safe journey home.

Verdict:  Leroy is Out 

My father attempted to call me several times over the following year. However, I didn't answer any of his calls as I could see his number on the caller ID. Once, he called me from a friend's phone and I picked up the call as I didn't recognize the number. His friend tried to convince me to talk to him, but I refused. After that call, I changed my phone number. 

On the Thanksgiving following this, I received a note from Leroy that shattered any hopes of reuniting with my father in the future. During the months we had been talking over the phone, Leroy and I had exchanged pictures. In the note, Leroy asked me to return the pictures he had sent me, along with a stack of pictures of myself that I had sent to him. It was a petty request.

Who's Your Daddy? article image - Leroy letter

Goodbye Father

I still have the pictures my father gave me, along with a few letters he sent. I didn't send them back to him. I've kept them in a photo album, including the envelopes he sent them in. It's the only tangible connection I have with him and I hope to show them to my children one day. However, I did send the pictures he returned to me to his mother to keep. I still wonder if he regrets how he treated me and if he ever thinks about the daughter he never met.

In all of my personal posts, I want to share how to help stop or at least prevent child abuse.  Details below. 

What is child abuse? 

Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failure to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.

If you see signs of abuse with anyone you know, or are a victim of child abuse, get help right away.

For more information, to seek help, or find out how to help abused children click here:  Childhelp.

CHILDHELP

The Childhelp organization was founded in 1959 by Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Federson.  The organization's focus is on child abuse prevention and treatment.

Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States. It’s a terrible epidemic that we organizations like Childhelp are dedicated to putting an end to.  To end child abuse, increasing awareness of the issue itself is key.

We hope you loved Simply Amazing Living's “Who's Your Daddy” post.

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