Father Figures: Appreciation and Love

“My wife and I were starting to feel as if having children just wasn’t in the cards for us.

Years of trying and coming up short were weighing heavy on us and it had gotten to the point that we had accepted that we just weren’t supposed to have any. Then God had answered our prayers.

My wife had a seemingly flawless pregnancy. She didn’t have a lot of sickness and had said she felt better pregnant than she had ever felt before. Then, in the 31st week, she started having nosebleeds and a lot of swelling. A rough day at the school she teaches at had the nurse suggest calling our doctor and they shortly had her taken an hour and a half north to a hospital with an outstanding NICU because they were confident that baby would be making her way out.

I watched my wife hold on for 48 hours hooked up with cables and wires, not able to eat or drink for fear that she would have a seizure. I stood while my 31-week-pregnant wife passed out in my arms and woke up to say she couldn’t do it anymore. She held on just long enough for the doctors to get out my baby girl and allow me to hold her much earlier than I anticipated.

It didn’t seem fair to her that she went through all of that. I have found an appreciation and love for her that I didn’t know was there. My life is forever changed because of the sacrifice she made for our girl. I am forever blessed.”

– William Damron

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: The Face of Success

“The picture is of my husband at his graduation this past Monday, for his Bachelors degree. That’s the face of a proud graduate looking back at his wife and children after 5 years of blood, sweat, and tears…

…working two (sometimes three) jobs, raising three (going on four) kids, no babysitters, no grandparents, aunts or uncles to take the kids during midterms or finals, no nest egg for tuition, and giving up a 10-year career for a better future.

We had lots of emotional support and love, but we did all the heavy lifting… and his face shows it!

That’s the face of success!”

– Bettye Erich

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: Old Habits

“I grew up on the south side of a town called McAllen, Texas. The Valley.

Being part of such a rough neighborhood, I was influenced by gang violence and being disruptive to my community. After years and years of bouncing around county jail and having troubles with drugs, I found myself in a way deeper hole when my new girlfriend found herself pregnant.

It never really hit me that I was going to be a father until January 18, 2017 when my daughter Erin Gonzalez was born. I had to change my life around and be a positive role model not only for my community but for the little angel I had to care for now.

Being a fan of tattoos and art it was only a matter of time before I got a nice glorious portrait tattoo of her, reminding me of how far I have come and what I was truly waking up for.

Sometimes a great responsibility is what needs to be placed upon us men to realize who we really are. I gave up old habits and now that my daughter is almost 3 she always says her favorite tattoo on me is of course of her!”

– Michael Gonzalez

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Father Figures: My Daughter’s Two Dads

“I am a child of divorce.

My parents stopped speaking once their marriage ended, and my holidays growing up were masked in guilt over which parent I wasn’t with.

I have a 9-year-old daughter from a previous relationship and a 5-week-old daughter with my fiance. My 9-year-old loves her dad and my fiance both, for many reasons… none of which are the reason I love them both for.

I love them because we spend holidays together.

This year as we had a new baby, my ex came to our house and spent Christmas Eve night with us. We all woke up together on Christmas and did gifts, had breakfast, and played games. My ex and my fiance not only get along, but they support each other in being fathers to our daughter. They would never in a million years make her choose between them for a holiday.

My daughter talks about how lucky she is all the time for having two dads – and one day I know she’ll understand fully how lucky she is for having two dads that not only support her, but support each other.”

– Emily Parry

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: My Journey

“My journey as a dad began almost 9 years ago with my little girl. She is everything I ever wanted in a kiddo. But due to life events happening, I don’t get to be in her life as much as I want to.

When I met my wife I was in a very deep and dark place in my life. I didn’t get to see my 1-year-old except every other weekend and it was a long court process to make that happen. But still my wife pushed me to continue the fight and be as big a part of my daughter’s life that I could be.

We work, we fight, and we try to make it work but there is still something that is missing. Our home feels empty when she isn’t there. If it wasn’t for our little Bella (for baby) we would go crazy!

Skip forward to 2018 and we decide to begin the foster care process to be able to have children in our home that need love and affection. That’s when we met our now 16-year-old. It’s funny now that his dad is only 12 years older than him. But we manage. It wasn’t until 6 months later we met our little boy. 5-year-old kid that just needed someone to love him and show him what it meant to be a part of a family.

Going into 2020, we are about to adopt our 16-year-old, our 5-year-old is smiling all the time and our daughter loves that she has a big bubby and a little bubby! Our family isn’t a traditional one, but I swear I wouldn’t have it any other way! My wife and I do our best to raise our kids to know there is good in this world. That each of their individual past doesn’t define who they are.

The strength and support from my wife goes beyond measure. I find myself happier now than I have ever been in my entire life to this point and I don’t think that will change any time soon!

-Michael Gibson

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: Shit Hot Dad

“My Dad was a single parent. There’s 6 years between my (younger) brother and me. So as you know, that’s some juggling.

Turns out he’s a shit hot dad. The parent who welcomes everyone round for dinner, adopts all your friends, and encourages you to be wholeheartedly authentic.

He took us travelling for a month in a camper van, it blew up in Paris so the following summer we did the same but in tents and a car; he taught me to abseil a quarry, sewed sequins on my school pumps, bought my tampons, braided my hair and taught me how to cook a mean roast dinner.

I remember when I was 11, we got pulled over by the police in our clapped out old camper. He came back to the car and I said ‘Dad, why did the policeman say you have a criminal record?’ He said, ‘Because when I was younger my neighbor poached birds for fun and kept them in tiny cages. I let them free, and got arrested.’

When you tell your child a positive story about yourself, they will remember it and it WILL inspire them.

Now I’m a single mum and my dad is irreplaceable as a Gramps. He is everything a male role model should be for any young person. He also gives her cups of coffee which drives me bananas but apparently it didn’t kill me so should be fine.

My daughter is lucky he is her male role model and so am I.”

– Adrienne Titley

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: The Dad Abides

“Seven months ago, my husband Shane and I became parents for the first time. At age 30, Shane underwent more life events in six months than many people experience over a lifetime.

He suffered the loss of his only brother and best friend, we moved across the country, he started a new high pressure job as an ER resident physician, and I gave birth to our son just two weeks prior to his first day of work.

He moved everything we own from the moving pod into our house completely by himself with a negligible amount of help from me as I was 8 months pregnant.

He took on the role of sole breadwinner as well since I couldn’t keep my job after our son was born. That is a tough spot to be in as a first year medical resident with a family. He is the only resident in his program with a wife and baby to support on the resident salary.

He battled depression brought on by his debilitating grief for his brother and constant exposure to death in the emergency room. The bewilderment of being a new parent coupled with severe lack of sleep contributed to his internal struggle. Anyone in his position would have every reason to check out.

But Shane never wavered on being present and dedicated to our son and me. He seemed to find strength in his love for us and he gave me everything he had of himself.

He would get up with me at night and participate in whatever chaos was going on despite having nothing in his physical and emotional tanks. He comforted me the best he could through my postpartum depression and tried his best to soothe our colicky baby so that I could rest.

He got The Dad Abides shirt as a gift and he wears it practically everyday and to work underneath his scrubs. He’s on his second one because he wore out the first one. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s wanted to be a father.

His heart’s desire is to give our children the kind of fathering that he wished he had. No matter what has him down, his spirit always lights up as soon as he sees his son. I’ve never seen so much love in a man’s eyes. He already sees our little boy as his new best friend.

Shane is exactly the man I hope my son will grow up to mirror. He lives through kindness and exudes strength emanating from love. He is truly an incredible dad and husband.”

– Justine Sobrio

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: Instant Family

“I’ve always been the type of guy who wanted a wife and family. As I got older, I thought that would never happen for me. Then at age 30, I met the woman of my dreams.

She had two kids from a previous marriage. From the very beginning, I tried to win them over. With their father still being in their lives, I never wanted to replace him. I just wanted to make my own mark.

Now, a year and a half (plus) after meeting my (now) wife and the kids, I consider them like my own.

Our daughter always cuddles up next to me and insists on me carrying her upside-down, which makes me (and her) smile. Our son is like a mini-me; liking sports and comics.

As corny as it is, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. One day, I don’t think that dream of mine would ever come true; the next, it’s an instant family. Things get tough sometimes, but I wouldn’t change a single thing about my life.

I’m a truly blessed man to have these three”

– Frank Scott

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: Life Can Get Better

“I moved to Asia when I was 24 to escape a drug habit that was getting worse and worse everyday. I ended up in Thailand where I met my wife.

While we were dating I had to do a trip for a new visa by myself and ended up getting a hold of some dope and overdosed in a hostel. I was lucky to survive thanks to another person staying in the same room noticing me not breathing.

I went back to my girl embarrassed and scared but she supported me. Three months later we were in for the surprise of our lives with our daughter Jolene. I’m happy to say she just turned 5 years old and I will be 6 years clean this February. We just bought a house in Thailand. I’m living a life I never could have dreamed of here because of my ladies.

I know what it’s like to have an addiction. But life can get better even if it seems like it can’t.”

– Mitchell Moltz (Instagram: Popopotamus)

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: The Tie That Binds

“For me, being a dad can only be described as an adventure.

An often Herculean navigation of twists and turns, good ‘weather’ and bad, tears, laughter, screams of joy and cries of sorrow.

I am a dad to 15. Biological, trans-racial, special needs, domestic and international foster/adoptive parent, advocate and warrior for the weak. Helper to my children who gracefully battle cancer, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, ADHD, bipolar disorder, autism, epilepsy, mental illness and more.

I have the most amazing view of an extraordinary landscape made of all shapes, sizes and colors. The common thread, the tie that binds, is love and respect for similarities but more importantly love and respect for the differences. Our ‘patchwork quilt’ of a family has been sewn together and stitched in love and bound with grace.

I humbly serve as Patriarch and never take for granted the immense responsibility bestowed on us as dads!”

– Rick Ingle

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: The Dad Switch

“When I met my husband, Josh, we were in college. He was focused on having a great time, Michigan football, and getting to law school. When we started dating and it got serious, he made no secret of the fact that he had no interest in getting married or having kids.

Fast forward a few years and we were married.

We had agreed to be married for a year before trying to have a baby. Or so I thought. His take on the accord was that we would discuss trying for a baby after a year. We were married for 10 months when I couldn’t wait any longer. I broke down in tears in his truck and told him I was afraid it would take a long time to get pregnant and I felt like I was already getting old. I was 30, lol!

He took my complete mental breakdown in stride and seemed to tacitly consent since he knew I pulled the goalie and kept sleeping with me anyway. When I wasn’t pregnant immediately, I was distraught. Josh had a very relaxed approach and he just kept telling me it will happen when it happens. Cool as a cucumber.

Sure enough, we welcomed our daughter, Poppy, a year later. As soon as Poppy was born, Josh was smitten and angling for another baby. It was as though the “dad switch” had been flipped. He went from cool, calm, and a little detached about having a family to completely obsessed.

We had another baby, our son Beau, this past spring. The kids are 23 months apart, so our house is a never ending gong show and he’s never been happier.

Getting a front row seat for this transformation has made me love him more than I thought possible.”

– Sarah Latzman

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: They Wreck Me

“I never could have prepared myself for the journey we were about to go on when my wife and I decided to become foster parents.

We do not have biological children and we have several nephews so we got our home study approved for one little boy. I had prepared myself to be a dad to a rough-and-tumble little boy, for however long he was with us.

But then we got the call from our DHS caseworker… two little girls, and could they come in 24 hours.. we said yes, of course, but I never could have prepared myself for the journey to fatherhood I able to embark on.

Days turn to weeks, weeks to months… my now adopted daughters have my so tightly wrapped around their tiny little fingers! I paint their fingernails, they watch the Saints with me. I watch their never-ending ballet shows, they go fishing with me.

Being a father to two girls that may not be biologically connected to me but are absolutely me and my wife made over has changed me.

Those two little girls wreck me everyday and I cannot imagine my life without being their daddy.”

– Roman Kling

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Father Figures: Brighter Days

“On August 4, 2007, after six years together, I married the girl of my dreams, my best friend. A year and a half later, we were celebrating the birth of our first child, my incredibly sweet and feisty daughter Caylee. Over the next three years we had two more children, Brooklyn (my funny lil Boobear) and Alex (my handsome little sidekick).

Honestly, I thought life was complete because I had a beautiful wife and three amazing children. Unfortunately, this is not how the story ended.

On March 7, 2018, I received some unimaginable news… my wife wasn’t happy and she was ending our marriage. I was devastated. My family was my whole world and now it was being torn apart. I felt like a broken man and experienced some very dark days.

Eight weeks later, I said goodbye to my children as I dropped them off at school, knowing I wouldn’t be there when they got home. As I was packing up the last item for the moving truck, my wife was in tears and gave me a big hug. I wanted that hug to last forever because I didn’t know if it would be the last hug I’d ever get after 17 years together. I drove away confused, not knowing what was going to happen in the future.

After moving out I was determined to bring my family back together. Over the next seven months, I tried everything possible to show the mother of my children a life of happiness was still possible for us. I stepped up my dad game and did so many fun and amazing things with my children. I continued doing kind and thoughtful things for their mother, like bringing her coffee, breakfast, lunches, and dinners, and I enthusiastically jumped into action every single time she needed help with something or seemed stressed.

I really thought all my efforts were appreciated and there was a possibility we would be spending Christmas 2018 together. Unfortunately, my heart was broken a second time when I realized my marriage was over for good.

Once again, I had many dark days over the following months, but I was determined to keep moving forward for my children. As a result, I stepped up my dad game and made them my absolute #1 priority! I made it my mission to always set a positive example for my children on how to be a good person and live a life of happiness. Whenever we are together, we spend so much quality time doing fun things and creating so many memories! It seems like wherever we go, other children gravitate towards us because we’re having so much fun! Life is good.

I’m not going to lie and say being a single dad is easy. It’s not. Yes, there are days when all three of my children get along, but there are also days where they are screaming at each other. There are days when they come home from school because some other kid was mean to them. There are days when I have to say “no” to buying something because I’m trying to support three children on one income. There are days where I have to help my daughters pick out bras at a store (*confused look*).

Overall, there are days where I question whether I’m doing a good job. But, at the end of the day when I’m tucking my children into bed, I know I’m doing a great job when I hear the words, “We had so much fun today!! You are the best daddy ever!! We love you so much!!”

With all the challenges I’ve been through, I wouldn’t trade my path for anything. It’s not only strengthened the relationship I have with my children, it’s also made me an overall better person. I don’t know if you’re travelling on a similar path, but I just want you to know brighter days are still ahead!”

– Adam Carder

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.