When my grandmother died in the summer of 2019, my family bought our black suits and dresses and packed our bags. After the service, a family member commented about a poem I recited during the service, “Lil Man’s daughter is so talented.”
The comment caught me by surprise. It wasn’t because of the grief we shared, nor because of the generous compliment he had given. It was because Lil Man is not my father’s nickname. Dee is.
The Questions Begin
My dad had not been around much while I was growing up—he and my mother were not together by the time I made my entrance into the world, and when I was 3 my mother moved us to California, chasing a film-star dream for her daughters. But my dad was at my grandmother’s funeral—and later that day, as we were talking, I found myself closely examining my father’s hands, his face, his ears. I have small ears. Were his comparably small? Internally, I was having a conversation with myself: “Blair, he doesn’t resemble you at all.” I stopped talking. My heart rate began to accelerate.
I asked a few of my family members about who Lil Man was. The room went silent. And then the next day, a family member told me. One time, just one, my grandmother had alluded to my dad maybe not being my dad.
The Father I Knew
I asked my dad, Dee, to take a paternity test. When I saw the DNA email in my inbox, I couldn’t open it. I sat on the couch next to my husband, Shai, and told him the results were in. I needed him to read it. He scanned the email, looked at me and read the results over the sound of my heart beating like an anxious drum.
Zero percent chance of paternity.
I told Dee. He said he was just as surprised as me.
When my mother and I finally spoke about this, my heart was racing. The first thing I did was tell her that the results verify that Dee was, in fact, not my dad—and so I wanted to know if she knew who my biological dad is.
“I know it’s been 37 years, but do you have any idea?”
A thick quiet from her end.
Then, “I’ve known a long time, but I didn’t know how to tell you.”
So the story came out.
Dee isn’t my father.
Lil Man isn’t either.
Meeting My Biological Father
Now, for the first time in my life, I saw a picture of a man I resembled. My mother texted it to me. It was like a piece to a puzzle I didn’t know was misplaced. He looks like me, if I had skin the color of coffee. He is a picture of me. I am a part of him. We share the same eyes, nose, lips, and ears.
For the first time in my life, I saw a picture of a man I resembled. . . . It was like a piece to a puzzle I didn’t know was misplaced.
And yet I knew nothing about him. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and all of mine ended in question marks.
My biological father and I were connected through mutual family members. A paternity test confirmed it. What the resemblance in the picture had told us, the email verified beyond a doubt.
We had our first conversation less than four months after my grandmother died. I dialed the number, but no one answered. I immediately called a second time. I heard, “Hello?”
“Hello,” I said. (What else do you say?) I told him who I was, and he said, “Oh, I thought you were a bill collector,” and let out a big chuckle. That broke the ice.
Having your first conversation with your parent when you’re an adult is strange. I felt like I’d been thrust inside one of the many Maury Povich talk show paternity episodes I had binged on as a young teen back in the 1990s. Now it was me telling my dad, “You are the father.” Life is a trip.
So here we are, a year on as I write, and I am still walking through the very real effects of all of this new information. I am grappling with how to establish a relationship with the father I have found at this point of my life—or with whether I should even try. There’s no playbook for this. But through it all, I have started to see what has anchored my soul through this period of uncertainty and upset.
God My Father
I have chosen to rest in the sovereignty of God, and it is here that I have found the greatest comfort. The fact that none of this caught God by surprise is my bulwark when betrayal and bitterness—those conjoined twins—try to use my hurt as a way to lure my heart away from my faith.
God is in control of my book, and this is how he chose to have my chapters unfold. I started jotting down ideas for my book about fatherlessness around six years ago. I thought that my story of finding my father was complete then, since I had found my heavenly Father and found family in his people. Little did I know that this chapter would be part of it; but he knew there was more to the story. I just needed to catch up.
As I confront my new reality, one thing I want to make sure of is that I don’t brush past this and say I am OK with it all. Christians are not to be actors. I do not have to pretend to be OK—with God, it is OK to not be OK. It’s OK to be angry about a 37-year-old secret kept from me that disconnects me from who I am in the flesh.
From the start of this chapter of my life, I have wanted to be honest about how I felt while at the same time not being led by my fears. I wanted to be angry while not sinning against God in that emotion. I wanted to be sad and at the same time look to God for the ability to rejoice. I want to forgive from the heart because I’ve been forgiven. Isn’t that the Christian life? We live in the tension between the groaning caused by the realities of this fallen world and a hope based upon the realities of the life to come.
We live in the tension between the groaning caused by the realities of this fallen world and a hope based upon the realities of the life to come.
I have to take my feelings and fears to God and learn to cast them over to him. We are God’s children. He cares for us and watches over us. So no matter what life brings, even if we should fall, we do not have to fear, because of him whose eyes are always upon us.
Three Fathers, One Hope
Two years ago was when I discovered I had three fathers: The one I didn’t know much growing up, whose blood it turns out I don’t share; the one I didn’t even know existed growing up, whose DNA I share; and the one in heaven, who chose to love me perfectly before the creation of the world, whose Son came to shed his blood for me, and who has overseen every detail of each chapter of my life.
What do I do with all of this? By God’s grace I have committed to pray for my parents, to seek accountability, to keep a journal of my thoughts, to seek a counselor when it feels like too much to handle on my own, to meditate on forgiveness . . . and to hold on to the promises of God that I find in his Word.
These promises are precious when life is tipped upside down. So I cling to him, remembering that his Son says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
I choose to put my faith in the one who has overcome this world. He overcame this world through the power of the Spirit and obeying the will of his Father. I am united with him. He is the missing piece of the fatherless puzzle. And his Son loves, cares for, and even dies for his brothers and sisters, in order to bring us to his Father so that we can overcome the tribulations of this world as beloved sons and daughters too.