“At 14 years old, he found out the man who had raised him wasn’t his biological father. It might have been okay if this man had actually been a father figure and not an abusive drunk.
A few months after that bomb was dropped on him, he was adopted by an aunt and uncle who forced him to automatically call them ‘mom and dad’ the second he met them. Unfortunately, that was just the tip of the iceberg of the trauma and pain they inflicted on him.
When we met, he was surviving day by day with a fake smile. He had fooled everyone, including himself, into thinking the things he was experiencing were normal and that he was happy.
When we got married and started planning our own family, the fear consumed him. He had two fathers who had failed him. He didn’t even know who his biological father was, so how would he know how to be a good dad?
But the night we welcomed our first foster son into our home, instinct kicked in. That first night he slept on the floor of the nursery room to make sure he could hear the baby cry. He has been a great father to our 9 (former and current) children learning a little more each day but always doing everything he does with love for his kids.
His eyes sparkle with real happiness and pride as our three-year-old yells ‘That’s my dad!’ and our one-year-old squeals ‘Daddy!’ It’s been an honor seeing him find himself and become the amazing father our children need.
His dream is to one day foster teenagers and give them what wasn’t given to him when he most needed it: unconditional love.
(And there’s a happy ending: in 2018 he met his biological dad, they are building a beautiful relationship and making up for lost time.)
– Jessica Santiago
Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]