Father Figures: No Clue

“I never met my real father. My mom always told me he was a bad guy, that he loved Jack Daniels and died of a drug-induced seizure in his late 30s.

My stepfather was a monster of a man who beat me so badly that at 6 years old, I was placed in short-term foster care.

It goes without saying that I was terrified to become a dad. I thought that all those bad traits lived somewhere in me and I would continue a negative cycle.

Recently, I took a DNA test to try to find out more about my ‘father’s’ family. To my absolute shock, the man I thought was my father wasn’t! My father is alive and well and has lived only 20 minutes away from me my whole life.

After 36 years, I met my father for the first time in mid-June, and since then he has not only accepted me into his life, but my two wonderful sons as well.

He had no clue I existed, and he has gone out of way to be a part of our lives.”

– John Brophy

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Father Figures: Could Not Even Imagine

“Like a similar post I saw on your Facebook page, I too am the father that I am despite the father that I had.

My father was an alcoholic who decided hanging out with friends and drinking was more important than coming home to his wife, three daughters, and son.

My parents split when I was in 1st grade and of course, as the only son, I looked up to him and sometimes despised my mom for being strong enough to kick him to the curb.

I am now a father of 3 of the best children I could imagine, and I have learned from his mistakes. I will never have my children go through what me and my sisters had to go through.

I could not even imagine my life without all of my family.”

– Kevin Munk

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Father Figures: Light of My Life

“Even though she isn’t my blood, my daughter is the light of my life.

I found out in 2011 that I couldn’t have children, and the thought of not being a father crushed me. My wife and I went through two failed domestic adoptions before we decided to pursue international. There we found our sweet child.

Ella was born in Taiwan three years and three months before I met her. She was born deaf, and at three months old her birth father did the unthinkable: he lost control and proceeded to shake my daughter to the point she became unconscious, and then left her on her own for several hours.

It breaks my heart to think of my sweet daughter going through life-saving craniotomies with nobody there for her. She survived, but now has trauma-based cerebral palsy, causing her to permanently be in a wheelchair.

The day I first saw her picture, I felt a spark of love for my precious daughter, the day I met her for the first time in Taipei I openly wept with love for my little girl.

I travel for work and every chance I get to be home is a special time for both of us.

To all the dads – blood or not – keep up the fight for your kid, love your child unconditionally, and always strive to be the person they can call their hero.”

– Blake Wood

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Father Figures: But With Him

“My wife and I tried for over 4 years to have a baby.

We went to a fertility specialist and did a round of IVF. I met my wife for lunch and she told me the IVF failed.

She told me if I wanted to leave her she wouldn’t blame me. That I shouldn’t have to be stuck with someone that can’t have children. I told her that I loved her and children or no children I wasn’t going anywhere!

We tried again three years later. This time with an egg donor. The odds were against us. When we went in for the implantation we were in our late 30s. It was our last chance; we couldn’t afford it a third time.

When she showed me the pregnancy test I was so excited our dreams were happening.

Gavin was born 3 weeks early and he was just perfect. He is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. He is my everything. He is 3 years old now and I don’t want to be anywhere else but with him.”

– Doug Spink

Father Figures: He Taught Me

“I still remember the day my son was born. I fell in love instantly. I never knew how much I wanted to be a dad. Holding my boy for the first time was terrifying and emotional but it left my heart full.

In July 2018, three days before his first birthday, my son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. It’s a rare form of cancer that affects children. It was already stage 4. My world was spinning; we couldn’t understand why this was happening to our happy baby boy.

We spent most of the next 6 months at the Children’s Hospital. Between scans, surgeries, chemotherapy, and infections because of his compromised immune system, there were only a handful of nights we spent at home as a family. Still, his spirit energized us and encouraged us to press onward.

Two weeks before Christmas we got some great news, treatment was working! The tumors had shrunk by 98% and after they removed the mass in his belly we got to spend Christmas at home.

But the good news didn’t last.

On the evening of December 27th, we rushed to the hospital; our boy was having a seizure. Scans showed that the cancer had recurred in his brain and spine. We spent the next week in ICU while our baby boy received care around the clock.

We didn’t know if he was going to make it, and I’m eternally grateful for the doctors who came in to perform emergency brain surgery at 9:00pm. Without a doubt, they saved his life that night.

Over the next few months our little guy lost the ability to walk, use his hands to feed himself, and balance himself sitting up. We helplessly watched it all slip away as he endured aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Through it all, he maintained such a high spirit and demeanor. He gave everyone strength, this sick little boy. He had a smile that would light up the room.

Our son was an inspiration to everyone who met him.

On June 21st, three weeks before his second birthday, he took his last breath as I cradled him in my arms.

Although my son isn’t here anymore, he taught me what it was to be a dad. The love and the joy and the pride, no matter the pain.

Our second child is due in October, this time a baby girl. I look forward to teaching my daughter about her big brother, Jake.”

– Chad Bottolfs

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Father Figures: Flying Blind

“My dad passed away when I was 15. I had father figures step into place but never had an ever present figure to model my life and standards after. So when it came to being a dad, I was flying blind.

My wife was induced and went through 40 hours of labor. She finally had to opt for a c-section and we then found out that our son was lying on his back in the womb and was basically stuck. Those were the longest 40 hours of our lives.

Her epidural wound up failing and the pain I saw her go through crushed my soul. Watching somebody you love so dearly being in pain, knowing there is nothing you can do? It’s torture. I can’t begin to imagine how she felt.

Fast-forward to the delivery room; I can’t explain the magic: my wife battling gestational diabetes and Bell’s palsy; the constant doctors visits; her pain, and watching her endure it; it all melted away when I saw my son and heard his first cry.

I forgot about it all and I just saw my wife and my son. We became a family. I became a father. The two greatest loves of my life and I get to spend every day with them!

Being a new father is scary. Especially because I had no father figure to learn from and watch and mold me. But between my wife and I and our amazing family, we figure it out a day at a time.

Being a father and a husband are by far the greatest achievements I have in this lifetime and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”

– Tyler Steadham

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Father Figures: In Stride

“This is my fiancé, Jason. He’s the kindest, most dedicated, hardworking person I have ever met. I am eternally grateful to have him in my life.

Jason did not come from a privileged background and was one of nine children so childhood was hard. He left school at 16 and began studying sports science at college while at the same time living with and caring for his quadriplegic brother.

Planning on going to university, his education was cut short when he had his first son at just 21. He worked day and night shifts at his local supermarket to provide for his young family.

The following year he branched out and bravely opened a cafe in a performing arts venue called The Garage in Norwich UK. The year after, he had another son (at this point he was still only 23).

The cafe took a lot of hard work and long hours to establish (he worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week at one point) but he took it all in stride and continued, with ease, to be a wonderful father to his two boys.

Jason tragically lost two of his brothers in 2017 and I have no idea how he managed to cope. But even in the face of such adversity, he continued to work hard on the business.

Jason is now 27 and runs an extremely successful childfriendly cafe and has recently hired more staff, so he can finally take weekends off! And even the occasional holiday!

He is wonderful and we all love him so much!”

– Rosanna Dunn

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: Warmed Up

“I met Josh a year after he got divorced. He was frustrated with life. As a vet trying to make ends meet, paying child support, other bills whilst trying to still live; life was tough then.

After a while, he warmed up to the possibility of us actually being together but he wasn’t ready to have any more kids. With two boys and one more from me, in total we already had three, which is more than enough. But one day, he surprised me by getting a vasectomy reversal.

Fast-forward to today, he is the best stay-at-home dad to our baby girl. Every time she wakes up at night, he gets up with no complaints whatsoever. He’s an expert in making sure she burps after feeding, and they do a lot of Dad and baby nap-time. Plays with her, reads her books, and he’s the best at nappy change. He’s very hands-on and I can see the happiness in his eyes every time he looks at her.

I take care of her when I come home from work since I know kids can be exhausting, but more often than not, he prefers taking care of her himself. Apparently, a baby’s smile is more than enough to keep his energy going.

Bless his heart. One in a million.”

– Venus Parolan-Laney

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: What We Do For Them

“This is the day I passed my CPA accounting exam. My kids were having a tea party that morning and couldn’t be bothered about my marks being released that day – they just wanted their tea.

One-and-a-half years before this picture, my wife was in a car accident that damaged her back. She could no longer be a nurse and we were down to one income.

I remember that season very well with two toddlers. I would study on the bus to and from work, come home and clean the house (depending on how bad the back pain was that day), put the kids to bed, hang out with my wife, and then study some more. I remember not having enough money to fill our car with gas to go write my three day CPA exam, and a friend insisting on me carpooling with him without knowing our situation.

Having my designation seemed so far away, and in the meantime I couldn’t just focus on that; my family needed all of me too. One night when I was studying, my wife came down around midnight and hugged me. I just cried in her arms, realizing then the weight that was on me.

The day I passed that milestone test marked a turning point: finally my one income could start to be enough. I just love how the kids didn’t care. Why would they? They weren’t stressed.

I thought ‘if only they knew what we did for them…’, and then I realize how little any of us really know about what our parents do for us.”

– Jesse Riegel

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: Success

“Becoming a father has shaped me to be a much more confident man in only a year and a half. The self worth of a man/father figure is often something we over look or stereotype.

I used to struggle with the idea that I lacked ‘success’ in my life, or what I once perceived success to be. The fact that I didn’t go to university and end up in a job that others would see and go ‘Oh wow! Andrew really made something of himself!’ has always been something that I was pretty embarrassed about.

A somewhat unsuccessful attempt at a career in trades magnified these feelings. But then I had you, and my insecurities melted away. You made me realize that success isn’t measured in diplomas or figures in a salary.

I measure my success in moments with you. Every time I make you smile, success! Every time I teach you something new, success! Every bath time and diaper change, success! Every time I soothe your tears or rock you to sleep, success!

You have filled my life with daily successes. You have made me more successful than any diploma or degree could ever have, YOU made me a DAD.”

– Andrew Beaman

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: My Solid Rock

“We met at 14 and 16. I knew even at a young age this guy was made to be a dad. He was funny, compassionate, and loving.

It proved true when we had our first born, a son. After having many pregnancy complications, including a new wife on bed rest, he didn’t complain, he selflessly worked to make sure our unborn and I were safe and cared for.

When our son was born prematurely and brought home at 4lbs 11oz, he knew exactly what to do to help his tiny son thrive. His character proved again when we went through two miscarriages, feeling broken inside yet being my solid rock.

When our 3 girls came along, he stepped up and melted into being a girl dad. He stood by the bedside holding our newborn daughter, watching his wife fade from blood loss and trauma. He stood watching as I was wheeled into surgery shortly after birth, yet he remained calm and made sure our newborn daughter was fed, cared for, and loved. He has weathered many storms during our four pregnancies and deliveries, yet his true character and determination to be a good dad always prevailed.

He is our world and rock, I often wish I could tell the world about how great he is, thank you, The Dad, for allowing me to share.”

– Chelsey Halbert

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: Metal Dad

“This is my husband Kyle. He and I tried for many years before we had our son, and we owe it to the miracle of IVF.

From the beginning of our journey with IVF, Kyle has been a devoted father. From giving me daily shots in the butt to supporting me throughout my pregnancy and cheering me on during a very difficult labor, he was always the rock that I knew I could rely on when I was struggling.

He’s been a devoted father from day one. He even took on the role of being the primary caregiver during COVID-19 when Henry’s daycare closed and he was home from work. Kyle was the primary caregiver while I worked for 3 months for Henry.

Kyle is a huge metal fan, and he often is wearing the shirt of his favorite bands. One fun thing he’s done since Henry was born is take photos wearing different metal band shirts – he calls them his “metal dad” photos.”

– Ella Schwotzer (See more on Kyle’s IG: @MetalDad313)

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: Unwavering and Fierce

“This is my husband Matt with our son, Benjamin, and daughter, Charlotte.

He is the kind of partner and father everyone dreams of for their future. His devotion to our children is unwavering and fierce. They will never question his love for them because he tells them and shows them any chance that he gets. He was a pillar of strength for me during two difficult births and our son’s NICU stay.

He went from unsure he was able to have kids due to a childhood leukemia battle to having open heart surgery while our daughter was a toddler and I was pregnant with our son. His worry during his difficult recovery was my well being and the happiness of our children. Despite complications and a prolonged hospital stay, his focus never wavered from getting home to be with us.

He makes me a better mother and will without question, raise these kids into adults that will make the world better. We are so lucky to have him and I still can’t believe he is ours.”

– Kelly Tritz

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.