I’m somewhat a reactionary person. What’s on the surface sometimes has nothing to do with what’s just below the surface, which usually has a lot to do with what’s deeper.
This particular journey started a year and a half ago, when I had this reaction to some news I received.
It started to end a week and a half ago, when I arrived in Utah. Before I left Florida, I emailed my biological father, asking him what his plans are, and that I had an appointment to talk with an immigration lawyer on Tuesday, June 22.
When the plane landed in Salt Lake City, I texted Biodad, asking him if he was still in the country, and that if he didn’t respond to the text or my email within the next day I would cancel the appointment.
Within the next hour he texted back, saying that he was still in the country, and that he’d be moving back to the Philippines for good in December. He asked when a good time to call would be. I told him Saturday afternoon.
I was hopeful about not meeting with the lawyer.
The next day was Friday. I woke up early to meet with a friend on campus. Later that afternoon Biodad called, and I answered. He asked me if I would still meet with the lawyer and ask about how much the services would cost, and if they were too expensive, he’d go back to the Philippines.
Maybe I should back up a little bit.
A few months earlier, he asked me for a favor, and over the phone, he sounded pretty bashful. He knows I recently obtained American citizenship, and he wanted to know if I would do a paternity test with him so that he could use his blood relationship as grounds to apply for a green card.
He said he didn’t want it to be like he was using me.
He expressed absent-father guilt, saying if he could stay in the United States, he’d be able to spend time with me. He’d help me pay for school, he’d buy me this thing or that thing. He’d pay for the paternity test.
I told him I would think about it.
At the beginning of my New York/Florida trip, which was the beginning of May, I scheduled an appointment with an immigration lawyer. The consultation was free; it would be useful. I texted Biodad, but he did not respond.
So a week and a half ago, when we were talking on the phone, his quality time with me is suddenly conditional. Lawyers are expensive. Obtaining a green card is expensive.
His efforts to maintain contact have not been consistent. In the past year and a half, eight straight months lapsed without a single call or text.
Six months ago, after Christmas, he sent me a Christmas text. He called a few weeks later to explain his silence: his wife was visiting from the Philippines.
And last month? when I was debating to go forward with the lawyer and didn’t hear from him until a week and a half ago? One of his daughters was in town (somewhere in Alabama), pregnant. She gave birth to a baby girl on May 15.
When people stop talking to me, I think either it’s because they’re trying not to lie to me outright, or they’ve abandoned me, stopped caring about me, somehow helped create the dark vacuum that I’ve been sucked into. This is a sick (unhealthy) way to react, I know, but I grew up in a very noncommunicative family. The wounds run deep.
I mean, of course life happens. People get absorbed, focused, busy. On a fundamental level, I understand that. But the reality of it is, when he doesn’t have time to talk to me because he has a wife – who is not my mother – visiting, and when he doesn’t respond to something he thought was important – AND that he INITIATED – because his daughter and brand new baby granddaughter are immediately present, his intentions weaken. I can no longer hold him to his word. His promises dissolve into nothing. He simply cannot divide his attention. He’s already let me down too many times to expect that. Another chance is out of the question.
And then – and THEN – he reminded me that last Sunday was Fathers’ Day. Then, just to be spiteful, I reminded him he forgot my birthday. He said that wouldn’t happen again.
I didn’t end up calling him on Fathers’ Day. I may not be a very good person sometimes or even a good daughter, but I am not his daughter, at least in the same sense that he is not my father.
Last Tuesday, I met with the lawyer, and she said some things that made a lot of sense and brought great clarity to the situation. She ended up saving me money and further grief. We shook hands, and I left her office. Before I could exit the building, sobs ambushed me, similar to how I reacted a year and a half ago. I stepped outside and took a deep breath, then I walked the four blocks in the bright sunshine to the bus stop.