Eleven years and four days ago, I was adopted by the BEST man I've ever known.
I was 17 years old and he had been my step-dad for 8 years at that point. The offer to be adopted had been on the table for quite some time...
My biological dad (L) had left us and I remember the day it happened. I remember my mom and little brother, at that time only a baby, and me, crying on the floor...about six years old. I remember crying to him, asking him not to leave us. He had his bag packed and walked by me, I ran over to him, wrapped my arms around his leg, sat on his foot, and held on with all my strength begging him to stay. He looked away, shook me off his leg, and slammed the door in my face. I didn't see him again for 9 years...and the times I did see him he only disappointed me more.
But something inside me wanted him to change. I wanted him to come to me and tell me he was sorry for everything that had happened and I hoped he'd want to get to know me and be a part of my life in some capacity.
When the topic of letting my step-dad adopt me would come up, I'd get defensive. I WANTED to be his daughter in the legal sense but I just couldn't abandon my real dad. I held out as long as I could, hoping L would take responsibility and step up to the plate. I didn't want to just throw his last name away like he threw me away. I wasn't like him.
If I was going to let Marty adopt me, it had to happen before my 18th birthday. At that point I would an adult and no longer a minor. No longer a dependent as far as the law goes. So four months before my 18th birthday, I gave up my hope that L would try to fix what he did to me, to us, so many years before.
It was bittersweet. On one hand, the most amazing man I've met was now my father in the legal sense, even though I considered him my dad long before that and the last name that haunted me was gone and replaced with the one I wished it had been from the start. On the other hand, L had signed away his rights to me without hesitation. Without a phone call. Without a word. It meant no more child support payments. Just more proof that I did the right thing, but it stung. It still does.
I've only seen L once since the adoption. I met up with my half-siblings whom he had abandoned before I was born and we all went to meet our new little sister. I didn't care to see him or his new wife. She's his 5th. I wanted to meet my little sister. The one he has time for, the one who calls L "daddy" now, the one who hasn't been hurt and abandoned by her father. Yet. I hope he sticks around for her. I hope she never has to think of him in the context that I do. He was a man that became my Daddy, he broke my heart, scarred me for life, left me on the floor in a puddle of tears. He set in motion many years of trials and tribulations for my family. We survived only to come out stronger on the other side.
My mom met Marty and the best years of our lives soon followed. Marty picked up the pieces of my broken heart and put it back together as best he could. I still have a few cracks but it's as good as it gets, and I'm grateful to him for that. My childhood was filled with wonderful memories thanks to Marty. Presents under my pillow when I'd lay down at night, our first Christmas tree since the divorce, our first house that we actually owned instead of rented, lots of laughter and happy tears.
While a part of me still wishes L could meet his grand-daughters, I'm so happy to be where I am, and really, I can only thank L for what he did to us. Thank you for leaving. Thank you for removing the one part of the equation that was keeping us from solving the problem. When you left, things seemed dark and hopeless, but really, it could only get brighter and better from there. We moved on and up in the world. I accomplished more and loved more than I ever could with you dragging us down. I'm confident, educated, successful in life and love, the daughter of a strong woman and a compassionate man, the wife of an amazing, godly man, the mom to two beautiful little girls who will never know the pain that comes from feeling unloved by their father.
And in the grand scheme of things, I understand it was God's plan for us to endure that pain only to be rewarded later, ten-fold. Marty is our reward. So thanks L for everything, it was totally worth it. I can only hope you can say the same.
Happy Adoption Anniversary, Dad. Bee Cupcakes for my bee-keeping Daddy. One of the many hobbies of this amazing man.
I love you as big as the sky.