So I was born in Michigan and my mother and father did not have a very good relationship at the time. About a month after my birth, he kicked us out, and my mother packed up her things and newborn child and drove 800 miles home to Georgia. I never had any contact with him until I was 17. I used Intelius people search knowing only his name and birthday and my assumption that he was still in Michigan. I called the number the site gave me and it was him. He has a wife and two other children. 3 years later, when I was 20, I flew to Michigan and met him for the first time. I'm now going on 25. AMA

EDIT: I'm working on proof right now. I've gotten in touch with the moderator, and have offered to show a birth certificate with my father's name on it and the Intelius search report receipt with his name on it. I am also trying to dig up old child support stubs, but those are going to be difficult to track down. If anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know.

EDIT2: I sent Drunken_Economist, the mod, my facebook account, a username verification photo, and a copy of the Intelius search report from 2005 with my father's phone number and street address blocked out for his privacy. I hope that this is sufficient proof. I am awaiting results. On the bright side, I have gotten some fantastic questions so far and have tried to answer all of them. If I didn't get to you, it might be because I already answered it in another post, so look around! I promise I'm not ignoring anyone.

Comments: 198 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

AreThereRocksAhead43 karma

Having zero contact with this man for the majority of your life and knowing what you did about him (abandoning your mom, etc) what made you even WANT to reach out to him in the first place?

Not trying to come off snarky or anything, genuinely curious.

westward_man31 karma

So his father had actually also abandoned him, and my mother told me that he had never reached out to meet him. I found that incredibly cowardly, to be honest. It's almost like getting the opportunity to meet your maker and asking him "Why?" and not taking it. Although obviously not quite as epic!

I dunno. I had questions my mom simply couldn't (or perhaps wouldn't) answer. I needed to know. I guess that's just how I'm wired.

kniteli63 karma

I found that incredibly cowardly, to be honest.

My father left me as well. I have no interest in knowing who or what he is. Meet my "maker", are you kidding me? The man deserves nothing from me, and he won't get it.

I don't think there's any cowardice in not wanting anything to do with a person like that.

I guess I don't think there are any answers to be found in a person that had little to nothing to do with building what I am now.

westward_man27 karma

You're perfectly entitled to feel that way, and I don't think anyone would blame you--I certainly don't.

For me, personally, I needed to know exactly who he was, why he did what he did, and what it really meant for me. I needed to understand why something like that happened to two generations. And maybe I needed confirmation that we were different enough that I wouldn't repeat the mistakes of my father and my father's father.

Leuchapolo8 karma

Upvotes for reddiquette

westward_man6 karma


TheO-ne-ders11 karma


westward_man8 karma

That's exactly how my father felt. He felt so strongly about it that he changed his last name. And I think that attitude is perfectly okay.

Personally, I never had a step dad or real father figure, so perhaps that had something to do with my different outlook.

fysicist1 karma

Saying that it's cowardly assumes that he actually wants to meet him.

westward_man3 karma

I'm just giving my personal perspective. I have trouble understanding it as an outsider.

French870 karma

You feel that it's "incredibly cowardly" to not try and find your father who abandoned you?

More like it's incredibly cowardly to fucking abandon a child. You owe him NOTHING, he owes you 25 YEARS of being a fucking FATHER.

westward_man6 karma

I meant that I personally found it cowardly not to face him. I don't mean to say that people who don't do what I did are cowards.

dmtnaut0734 karma

Is this you too? Just kidding, I swear...

westward_man23 karma

No! Hahaha, but this picture is actually what inspired me to do an AMA, just because of the age similarity. I am the same gender I was when I was born, and he was there. Good catch!

mississippiwildman18 karma


westward_man38 karma

He basically said that their relationship had been failing for quite some time before she got pregnant, and then when that happened, they kind of tried to stick it out because it was the "responsible" thing to do. He also accused her of cheating on him, though, and claimed that he wasn't really sure I was even his son, which honestly I found extremely offensive and cowardly. Also stupid: we look exactly alike.

The gist was that after about a month of fighting, they both decided that it wasn't a healthy environment to raise a child. He spun it like it was much more a mutual decision than it really was. How many women do you know who would voluntarily become single mothers without receiving child support?

StuR5 karma


westward_man8 karma

If you knew my mother, you'd see how absurd that possibility was. He used that as an excuse to rationalize his panic. Also timewise it doesn't make sense. She knew she was pregnant within a month.

Aside from that, yeah it probably would change how I feel about her--reduce her mythical image a bit to more realistic and down to earth or something. But I have no doubt that those were fabrications and rationalizations.

In terms of how to handle your daughter, my mother took the approach of telling me the abstract truth: what happened. She never once said anything bad about my father and if she said anything, it was about his good qualities, which I inherited.

jay763 karma

and claimed that he wasn't really sure I was even his son, which honestly I found extremely offensive and cowardly. Also stupid: we look exactly alike.

This sounds like it was a recent claim he made? That seems rather callous.

(I assume it was recent because you would not have looked like him when you were a month old)

westward_man1 karma

He claims he suspected it when I was born, but if that were true, why did he pay child support for so long? My guess is that it was a last-ditch effort to save his marriage--a desperate hope.

Skissored3 karma

Hold on, in an earlier comment you said;

How many women do you know who would voluntarily become single mothers without receiving child support?

So she did receive child support from him or she didn't? I'm confused.

westward_man3 karma

She did not receive it for the first 6 years of my life. It was quite some before the state began forcibly taking it from his pay


I'm surprised there are no reddit skeptics replying to this and claiming OP is lying, there are a lot of them.

westward_man1 karma

If you read every comment I posted on this thread, I answer all of these questions multiple times. I have no incentive to lie. I came here to share my story not bicker.

terrdc2 karma

How many women do you know who would voluntarily become single mothers without receiving child support?

Paying child support wouldn't exactly be optional on the fathers part.

Of course it could have been mutual in the sense that she thought he was an extra burden in her life.

westward_man4 karma

It wasn't optional at all, but if he refuses, it takes money and bureaucratic processes to force the state to take it out of his paycheck. For us, it was nearly 6 years before we got anything.

Crisspie131 karma

Just remember the three sides to every story, Yours/Mine/Truth, the truth will never be known, but you can make a educated guess, and to be honest I know 3 or 4 women who have bailed to other states to family with child and the dad is the one left standing going WTF. As for child support you have to apply for it in a court of law, if you dont pay you go to jail.

westward_man2 karma

This is very true, and I think I addressed this below.

WubJulietWub15 karma

When you and your father met up, was their any emotions let out, (a hug, a tear drop..) or was their alot of tension. Can you explain what was the conversation you had when you two met up?

westward_man26 karma

Well when I called him, I was younger, and yeah, I'll admit I cried.

But I was 20 when I met him in person, and I had already been through fights with him and a bunch of other nonsense, so I was a little more wary.

We did actually "hug" when I met him, but it was kind of forced, and I didn't see it coming. It felt more like a cultural necessity than any real display of affection.

The conversation was pretty dull and kind of petty, to be honest. Mostly small talk. He did manage to tell me some stuff about his family and about his life growing up and what not. It was a pretty whirlwind meeting, and I got some awkward picture with him just to prove I had done it. Also, apparently I'm at risk for high cholesterol, which he decided to tell me over lunch.

wwwhistler12 karma

the question I want to ask is why? I myself never met my father and to be honest never had any desire to even if he'd been around. so the question I have for those of you who felt compelled to track down an errant parent… Is why?

westward_man17 karma

So he actually never met his father either, and he took the exact same attitude as you--why bother? His father was never there and didn't help at all, so why should he want to meet his father at all? I understand this to an extent, but for me, I am an avid answer-seeker. I'm always asking why and always searching to find out. I don't like fuzzy areas in my life, so when I have the opportunity to make something more concrete, I take it. I guess that's why I'm an engineer.

Scarletfapper3 karma

You get an upvote for being an engineer.

westward_man4 karma

Yeah! I studied computer engineering and electrical. And now I'm a combat engineer, so go figure!

Scarletfapper2 karma

All those hours of TF2 finally paying off...

westward_man1 karma

If only that's what we really did..

Scarletfapper2 karma

  • Hey, this machine's not working.

  • Hold on a sec, lemme get my wrench.


  • Fixed!

westward_man2 karma

Hahaha, yeah. It's more like, "Hey there's an IED somewhere along this route. Drive up and down it with your face planted on the window until you hit it."

Scarletfapper2 karma

Are you sure that's a technician and not... cannon fodder?

westward_man1 karma

Ever see the opening scene to Saving Private Ryan? Those are combat engineers.

thebestestofthebest8 karma

So, do you like movies about gladiators?

westward_man5 karma

I liked Gladiator, though I suppose that movie was more about betrayal and vengeance than about gladiators in particular.

WhenIThinkOfYou8 karma

I can relate to this story alot. My father left when I was 3 and we didn't have contact again till I was 18. Our contact fell to the wayside for a few years. We talk now occasionally through text. Just the normal "Hey, how are you." "Fine." kind of conversations. I struggled with the thoughts of contacting him. For some reason, I felt the need to even though he just abandoned my mother and I. I'm sure you had felt something of the same. Thanks for posting this! Its nice to see someone else has been through something similar.

westward_man9 karma

Of course! Glad I could reach out to people who can relate :)

DanyyDezeyte8 karma

How does your mother raised you alone? And how's your relationship with her?

westward_man27 karma

My mother is one hell of a woman. She's amazing. She's my best friend in the whole world. I live on the opposite side of the country from her, now, but I talk to her almost every day about everything. She has incredible strength and depth of character, and I wouldn't be half as successful as I am today if it weren't for her. She worked long hours in a difficult job for many years, and I have no idea how she managed to do it, but she did--and she did a very good job. I couldn't have asked for a better mother or friend.

SullyMoonsie11 karma

A good woman raised a good son. I hope you both have great lives.

westward_man3 karma

Thank you!

thenewnum28 karma

What was it like? How did you feel about him when you first meet him? Growing up did you feel anger towards him or did you hope he would come "save" you. Is he more "set" them your family? and does his family know about you? Whats your relationship with him now?

westward_man37 karma

The first conversation was extremely surreal. I had often thought about trying to find him, but obviously hadn't given it any real effort or had any margin of success. I obsessed over what I would actually say, and ended up coming out with something lame and awkward like, "I think I'm your son."

I know I probably should have been angry, but I don't think I truly fathomed the depth of what had happened. My mother never once bad-mouthed him or said anything negative about him--in fact, she always told me how awesome he was and how everyone had liked him.

When I was quite a bit younger, I’d always day-dreamed of his coming to pick me up from school, randomly—as a surprise. He’d pick me up in his arms, and I’d be all surprised, like I’d won a game show or something, and we’d drive home. Maybe he and my mother would get back together, maybe not. It didn’t matter. But I kind of grew out of that.

I don't think it's accurate to say his more "set" than we are. He never went to college. My mother was the first in my family to graduate from college, and she got an associate's. Therefore, I'm the first on both sides to get a bachelor's. But he made his way, I suppose. I'm pretty sure I make more money than he does, though! Haha!

His family does know about me, yes. I have been building a relationship with the older of his two sons, but the younger I haven't spoken to at all. I don't know how his wife feels about me now, but she almost left him when she found out about me. Apparently he never told her. Whoops!

My relationship now is sporadic and not very involved. We fought quite a bit in the beginning, because my appearance almost ruined his marriage. I will call him every now and then to update him on my life, but I don't really put my heart into it. For example, I haven't yet told him I'm engaged.

The_Automator227 karma

When I was quite a bit younger, I’d always day-dreamed of his coming to pick me up from school, randomly—as a surprise. He’d pick me up in his arms, and I’d be all surprised, like I’d won a game show or something, and we’d drive home. Maybe he and my mother would get back together, maybe not. It didn’t matter. But I kind of grew out of that.

That is so sad. It never occurred to me how bad not ever having a father would be. I'm sorry about that.

westward_man3 karma

Don't be! I was better off without him, I think.

Jennaphur6 karma

Do you keep in contact on a regular basis?

My mom & dad divorced when I was 3 and I didn't see my dad again until I was 14. I moved 45 minutes away from him and I haven't seen him in over a year :/

westward_man13 karma

Sort of. Every 6 months or so I will call him to update him on my life. He doesn't really show much interest in me, though, so it's hard to have any real interest in him. I talk more with the older of my half-brothers, to be honest, and I've started to develop a good relationship with him.

AreThereRocksAhead6 karma

So with everything that happened-- his wife not knowing he had another kid, their fights and strained marriage, your fights between first contact and actually meeting him, etc-- do you ever wish you went about it differently, and if so, how? If you had to do it all over again, would you? Were you disappointed with your first meeting, do you wish it had gone differently or there would be more emotion on his part? Has he spoken to your mother since you found him, did he ever apologize to you? To her??

westward_man13 karma

Now that I'm older, I obsess over how I think I mishandled it in the beginning. For one thing, for whatever reason I called him "Dad," in the beginning, which I now refuse to do. I felt like I gave off this sense of neediness in doing that, because really, he isn't my dad--he's my father. I feel like I came off as weak, then, and I wish I hadn't. I also wish I hadn't asked for help at all, when I was trying to go to college, because that opened a huge can of worms that I was not prepared for.

I would absolutely do it all over again, though; I think I'm much richer for the experience and taking that leap has given me a lot more confidence in life. It makes me feel like I'm a brave person, y'know?

He hasn't spoken to my mother, no. She doesn't really blame him for very much, and doesn't harbor any ill will towards him. For her, that was years ago in another life. She moved on a long time ago, and she got me out of the ordeal, so for her, she won and he lost. He has kind of half-heartedly apologized for not being around, but he did sincerely apologize for how he treated me when his marriage was strained--taking it out on me and such.

Sonny_McClain896 karma

Have you had any contact or any sort of relationship with his new family? Has that relationship developed at all? I guess did that portion of your dad's life ever accept you?

westward_man7 karma

Just the older of his two other sons, and that relationship has been going quite well. He's a great kid, and I love being able to have the responsibility of being an older brother and mentor to him--I was a single child most of my life.

Daniel_OHearn5 karma

Was he welcoming to you? Did his current family know that he had another kid?

westward_man17 karma

He was welcoming at first, but my general assessment of him is that he is full of good intentions, but often incapable of following through with them, and so it was pretty rough. His family did not know about me, and when his wife finally did find out, she almost left him. That caused a long series of fights between him and me.

keebyjeeby5 karma

I broke up with the mother of my child when my son was 7 months old. We fought very violently - me verbally, her physically - and I knew that it was something she had learnt from her parents that I didn't want my son to learn from us. Because she lives in Greece and I wasn't able to find a job that would support me there, I have moved back to the UK to find work. I see him every day on skype, but only briefly because his mum works until the evening, so I get a couple of minutes (or less) before he is bored and toddles off (he's just 1 year old). I hope that he will want to see me more every day as he gets older, but given the economy in Greece, I doubt that I will be able to live near him any time soon. I spend my whole day looking forward to just seeing him and plan all my social and work activities around those - sometimes 20 seconds only - moments on skype.

Tips from anyone who has had a long-distance father most welcome, cos I adore him and I miss him and I want him to know that.

westward_man3 karma

I think in time he will know. It's evident to me just in the efforts you make to see him every day. Keep that up. Talk to him every chance you get. Visit him whenever possible or arrange for him to visit. You have no idea what even just a handwritten letter would have done for me as a child, confused as to why I was the only one without a dad.

FishCall4 karma

Was there anything about yourself that meeting him explained?

westward_man14 karma

My mother always told me I had his nose (I have a big nose). I wasn't prepared for the monstrous size of his nose, though! I only had one picture of him, and it was from when I was a baby, so obviously he looked very different.

The weirdest thing was that we have almost the exact same voice. I think we probably share a lot of things in common in terms of temperament, which is troubling to me, because I've always thought those sorts of things came from environment, and not really from genetics, y'know?

bbboy034 karma

Do you think any part of him wanted to reach out to you during all these years? Or do you think he didn't want anything to do with you or your mom?

westward_man10 karma

This is a great question, but unfortunately I don't really have an answer for you. I can tell you that he told me he wanted to contact me. When I first spoke to him when I was 17, he claimed that he was going to wait until I was 18 before he tried to contact me, but I'm sure you'll understand when I say I don't really believe that.

I think that perhaps a small part of him wanted to contact me, simply because I am his son. But he had a wife and children and a whole other life that didn't work with me in it. I don't fit in neatly to his life, and so I don't think he wanted to jeopardized that, y'know? After all, he never told his wife about me--she found out by accident. That's very telling.

yourfaceisamess3 karma

How did his wife find out? Have you spoken/met her? Have you met your half brothers? If so what was that like?

westward_man2 karma

I answered this somewhere else, but basically she found his paystubs and saw that he'd been paying child support.

I haven't met any of his family, but I keep in touch with the older of my half-brothers, who is 6 years younger than I. Our relationship is slowly growing, but is really great.

walterknaub3 karma

Everyone goes through some form of teenage angst against their parents. When you were 13-17, did your mom have to take the brunt of that, since your dad wasn't there to soften the load? My mom died when I was 18 months old, and I was a huge asshole to my step-mom and my dad. To be fair, I remember her being shitty to me too, but I know that I drove them insane.

westward_man5 karma

Absolutely. She had to take all of it, in fact, bless her soul. And I was pretty bad from 13 - 15. At 15 I started working and doing a lot of extracurricular activities at school, so I started to take life more seriously. That made me grow up a lot more quickly and ease the burden on her. But yeah, by then both of her parents were dead and we don't really have much of a family left, so she didn't really have too much support in that regard. Like I said: amazing woman.

walterknaub5 karma

What did you use as an escape before the extracurricular activities and work? I'm guessing that was too young for anything too harmful, like drug use, but was it music? TV? Books? Did you replace the positive male role model of an active father with characters or personalities in any way?

westward_man7 karma

Video games. Hands down. I still invest heavily in those. When I was younger and my mom worked a hell of a lot, they were kind of a digital babysitter for me! They were / are so important to me that they still have a huge role in my life. I'm currently working on a couple of indie game projects right now, and I have been involved in some other published works (most notably DancePad for iPad, which I tested for my buddies who sold that game, you should check it out!) It's a huge passion of mine that I want to pursue more fervently when I'm done with my Army career.

Shameless plugs aside, during my "troubled teen years" video games and music were my biggest outlets by far. I did read a lot--I invested a huge amount of time into R.A. Salvatore's Legend of Drizzt series.

Your last question is a really fascinating one that I hadn't thought about. I don't know that I have a concrete answer for you just yet--I'd have to think about it--but I can tell you something interesting about me. My favorite characters in shows and stories are always the old, grizzled men. Some examples: Saul Tigh in Battlestar Galactica, Herschel in The Walking Dead, John Locke in Lost. I don't know if that's related, but those types of characters have always stood out to me as the most interesting and beloved.

awesomeness-yeah3 karma

What was his exact reaction on seeing you, after so many years?
Did he even recognize you?

westward_man8 karma

Well, I stayed in a part of Detroit where, for some reason, you have to be 21 to get a hotel, and I was only 20 at the time. So I had to get a room at this really shady, no-tell motel, because it was the only one that allowed people under 21. Go figure.

Anyway, I kind of stood out like a sore thumb when he came to pick me up, so it was pretty obvious who I was. I doubt he recognized me, because I certainly didn't really recognize him.

His reaction seemed nonplussed, to be honest but he and I are similar in that we try to hide our emotions, so I can't be sure. I did, however, get the distinct impression that he was still trying to isolate that part of his life from his current life, though. If he really wanted them to mix, he probably would have invited me into his home.

Crisspie133 karma

Man that is cold he didnt invite you into his home? I am really sorry but you sound like you have a great head on your shoulders. When you came back home what questions did your mom have if any?

westward_man3 karma

No not really. She cared way more about how I was doing and feeling than what he was like or how he treated me.

Crisspie132 karma

That's awesome, your mom is amazing for giving you all the tools to succeed!!! 1,last question in your quest to find him and meeting him did you find what you were looking for? or the more cliche' question did you get closure? I only ask because I was wondering if you would recommend to another young man/women to do the same course of action if they were in the same situation

westward_man3 karma

Personally, yes, I found what I was looking for, although it took several years and some difficult moments to really understand what exactly it was that I wanted. But in the end, I understood much better what happened around the time of my birth; I had a much clearer picture of who my father was; and I got to start a relationship with my brothers.

If you're like me--constantly seeking answers and insatiably meeting challenges--then I absolutely think you should do the same. Even if things had turned out really sour, I personally would have regretted not taking that opportunity. I hope that helps!

curiousjim20123 karma

How could he of handled it better following the split from your Mum? I ask because I could potentially be deported while my child stays here and want to keep a good relationship with my kid

westward_man4 karma

Easy: actually spoken to me and made some effort to show that he cared and lived up to the high praise my mother gave him. Made every effort to visit with me or have me visit him. A call even only once a month would have gone a long way. Radio silence for nearly 18 years is a clear indicator that you don't really care, y'know?

Good luck with everything, brother. I hope things work out.

[deleted]3 karma

I don't really have a question. I just wanted to say I went through somewhat of a similar situation. My mom split with my dad when I wasn't even a year old, and then he moved across the country. My mom went through a lot of hell finding him and getting him to pay child support. But she eventually did.

When I was 16 I walked to my grandmother's after school and brought in the letters from the mailbox for her like I usually did (I went over to her place after school to hang out and wait for my mom to get out of work). I noticed that there was a letter for my mom, which was weird. I gave the letter to my mom when she got out of work. After she read it she told me I should read it. Turns out it was my older half-sister on the other side of the country that I didn't even know about, that was shooting in the dark trying to find me. She had my grandmother's address and didn't even think the address was up to date, but she tried anyway.

I flew out to see her and my other sisters several times over the years. We had a blast. Once I turned 23-24 (I think it was 24) my sister emailed me and said that she actually heard from our dad and that he was dying and probably had only a year (he was a lifelong drug addict and also had hep C). I expressed interest in meeting him because I knew we looked exactly alike, but I had never talked to him and also did not know what he, at the time, currently looked like.

We corresponded through letters at that point when my sister gave him my address. He mostly complained about his health (kind of his fault) but he was a nice guy. He did ask how my mom was doing time to time. They didn't want to talk to each other though, just asked me to correspond for them with a hello. About a year and a half later I flew out and met him. He was exactly like me. He wasn't exactly the best person in the world to me and my mom, but I was kind of glad I did it. I just kind of grew up wondering and I didn't want to regret missing the opportunity to know who he was when I could.

About a year after that (he held out longer than the doctors expected) I got a call from my sister telling me he was in the hospital and that it was time for me to come out and say goodbye. Unfortunately I couldn't (a professor I had in college would not excuse me and I fought tooth and nail to get that class and didn't want to drop it) so I waited for a weekend when I knew there wouldn't be any exams or too many quizzes. Unfortunately his health deteriorated faster than we expected, and the airlines would not switch my flight to an earlier date without paying a ridiculous amount of money (I believe it was $600 or $900).

He died a day before I was to arrive.

Anyway, I don't know why I felt like I needed to say all of this. I guess I needed to get it off my chest. I think I felt the same as you, I needed to not have any fuzzy areas in my life. A lot of where my dad was when I was growing up is still a mystery. He was very secretive. My sister and I have actually done a lot of research and found out some stuff. But there was still some stuff he wouldn't tell us that we don't know a lot about. I'm glad that I at least met him and got to know him a little bit before it was too late.

westward_man3 karma

Wow. Thank you for sharing that with us. I'm glad you were able to get some closure.

Drunken_Economist3 karma


westward_man4 karma

Other than my high school friends' vouching for me in this thread, I don't really have any way to prove this. I'm not really sure what incentive I would have to lie though, other than karma, which is silly.

Drunken_Economist1 karma

Yeah I hear you. I think the story is great and frankly I believe you, but AMAs require proof (like the sidebar says). Sorry, but I have to remove the thread. Good luck with everything!

westward_man3 karma

Do you have any suggestions on how I might prove this? I really like the AMA venue and would like to continue sharing.. I'm willing to work with you here.

EDIT: Working on ways to prove this.

fartheralong3 karma

I share pretty similar story actually spoke to him at 17 for first time. I think what made the situation worse is my mom never got married and never had a stable boyfriend that had interest in me mainly because she was and still is quite overly protective. We talk now once in awhile but he is just a stranger to me and he hasn't showed real interest in truly forming a deep bond. It sucked not having a father figure in place ever or siblings even though I now have half siblings through him its just hard to connect. Are you an only child?

westward_man4 karma

Exact same situation. No siblings from my mother, no boyfriends for my mother/father figure for he growing up, and half-siblings from my father.

fartheralong4 karma

westward_man4 karma

Key step of the bro hug: healthy standoff between dicks. We wouldn't want things to get weird, haha.

hadriker2 karma

This is interesting for me to get a perspective on. I have a daughter that isn't "mine" but I have raised her since she was 2 (she will turn 13 this year) Her father has never tried to be in contact with her and has never attempted to pay any child support. Some of his relatives have tried making contact, like his sister, but they have never followed through besides a few sparse emails. Its like they seem like they want to get to know their niece/granddaughter at one moment and then the other seem to just pretend she doesn't exist.

So without further ranting, any pointers for a parent on how to help their kid with this kind of situation?

westward_man4 karma

I think the best approach is to let her do what she wants to do. She will know if she wants to talk with them or not. The worst thing you could do is shelter her from her relatives or tell her not to contact them. If she wants to, she will, and your efforts to stop her will just embitter her against you. It might be worth a conversation, soon. The biggest thing there is to bring it up and let her lead the way. She will tell you what she's most comfortable saying, and she'll ask only the questions she really wants answered. Just support whatever decision she makes, even if you think it's the wrong one. It's a critical learning point for her.

As a slightly tangential aside, my father told me that his sisters found their dad, and that he died a few years ago. Now he said he didn't care, but for me personally, I would have regretted forever not having tried to meet my father before he died.

SniperRezil2 karma

Did you guys bro hug?

jamelus7772 karma

So how was he? Was he accepting and loving, or was he an asshole?

westward_man13 karma

He was open to talking and meeting and all that good stuff at first. I think that was before he finally told his wife. I'm not sure, because at one point he became kind of an asshole and we fought a lot. He actually ended up making me do a paternity test, which was incredibly insulting.

blackkeysplease3 karma

You seem like you have a good head on your shoulders, despite having grown up without your dad around. Were you always this reasonable/understanding of the situation? Or did that come with age &/or maturity? I feel like I would be incredibly angry if I was in your shoes, and I just don't sense that. No anger towards him at all?

westward_man9 karma

Despite my smarts and experiences, I don't think I really understood the situation fully until well after I had met him for the first time when I was 20. Before I had ever spoken to him, I was too confused to be angry. I had a lot of unanswered questions and still had fantasies about what having a father could be like (I never had a stepdad or any real father figure in my life). So I didn't really have room for anger.

When we finally did speak, and started fighting, anger was all I had. Mostly at the way he was treating me--it felt like being abandoned again, after I had found him--but also at him as a person. I didn't really like who I thought he was.

I'm older now, and I've loved people and I've hurt people, and I have come to understand that life isn't really black and white. I think he made the wrong decisions in terms of his relationship with me, but it's hard to be angry with him any more. I'm too old to need a father--I've lived my whole life without one, y'know?

Slater794672 karma

Thank you for the AMA and letting us into a huge part of your life. You sound like an incredible person that has much to offer and give back to a community. I Hope your game developing goes far!

westward_man1 karma

Thank you! Incidentally, if you know any artists, I'm hiring! Pixel art right now. My other project is covered.

SayCheezels2 karma

You said your Father's wife found out about you "by accident." Do you know the details of exactly how she found out? And what are your thoughts/feelings on her?

westward_man4 karma

Yeah, when they were applying for their second mortgage, they had to go through all their finances. She saw one of his paystubs and noticed that the state had been taking out child support. Oops!

Coincidentally, this happened very soon after I made contact with him for the first time.

westward_man2 karma

Whoops. I forgot: I don't know anything about her, but if I were her, I'd be super pissed at him, too.

T3RRA_F1RMA2 karma

How did you find his birthday? I know how you feel man, I haven't seen my dad since I was 3.

westward_man2 karma

It's on my birth certificate. Also my mom knew it: they dated for 3 years before I was born.

averageguy972 karma

I Have always had a father who I guess would be considered loving and all that. He just never was there for me emotionally at all. He's a Christian pastor and his lifestyle has led me to a life of agnosticism. I'm proud that I am the only one in my family who has thought for themselves on this matter (but I haven't told any biological family members so for all I know, they could be doing the same). I found a father figure in Billy Joel about two and half years ago in seventh grade before a classmate committed suicide and my depression really sank in. It was horrible but he parented me through all of it through his music... I wish I had a way of meeting my "father" but he will probably never know anything of me. But that's just the way it works I guess. I want a physical father figure though. Someone to hang out with me and just laugh without judging me. I feel horribly alone tonight. I apologize for the rant.

westward_man1 karma

Don't apologize. We all have those moments, sometimes. It's human. That's why communities like Reddit exist, and that's why this AMA exists. I wrote this to share my story in hopes that it would inspire others in similar situations and let them know they aren't alone. Thanks for sharing your story, brother.

Morgana_M2 karma

You mentioned that you had series of fights with your father, when his family found out about you, and his wife almost left him? What you were fighting about?

westward_man3 karma

Money at first. I initially asked him if he could pay for a trip for me to visit. He was receptive at first, but later soured on the idea, I assume because of his wife.

Later, I asked him for help because my mother and I were struggling financially. I mistakenly thought child support ended when I turned 18 (actually, in many states it can continue as late as 20 if you're still in high school. I graduated two months before I turned 19). So I asked him for one year of half the child support. He freaked out on that and lectured me about having already paid his 18 years of dues (when he actually didn't pay the first 6 years at all) and about how he was financially dependent when he was 18 and blah blah blah.

Anyway, we found out about the child support extension option and did that, and he had to pay one full additional year. If he had taken my initial offer, he'd have both saved money and would have a much better relationship with me.

Later those fights became his blaming me for his marital problems. It got so bad that he made me take a paternity test. He has since very profusely apologized for those fights, much to my surprise.

mypretties4 karma

So wait- he paid child support for 12 whole years, and his wife had no idea where this money was going?

westward_man2 karma

Yeah. He must have been sneaky with his money. Either that or she's pretty dim-witted. I have NO idea how he got away with it.

Morgana_M1 karma

I know that I will sound like a total bitch, and will get downvoted like hell. BUT I kinda understand your dad. He was living his life with his family, and then suddenly a kid shows up and starts asking for money. Everybody would freak out, specially when there is a wife who didn't take it lightly. Also I think it's understandable he asked you to take paternity test. I am not saying that it was right that he just kicked your mom and you out, and never kept in touch with you all these years, I am standing by opinion, that people should take responsibility for their actions, and not just forget to tell their wifes about kids they have somewhere. Oh and another question, have you had any "father figure" in your life, when you were growing up, without you biological father?

Edit: as -> like

westward_man4 karma

Yeah, but keep in kind he owed me 6 years of child support, and I was effectively asking for 6 months. I really don't have sympathy for him concerning his marriage, because you're an idiot if you don't tell the woman you want to marry you have a bastard child whom you support with child support, y'know?

In terms if father figures? No, not really. Not until much later in life.

neketa12 karma

Do/have you ever felt any resentment that he was able to or wanted to be a father to his other sons, but not you? I don't ask to be rude, because I think you're an amazingly strong individual, but because I've noticed others in your position feeling that way.

westward_man4 karma

I did for a bit, yeah, and I confronted him about it. It is frustrating to know that he is capable of being a good father and simply chose not to be in my life. The biggest disappointment is that this same thing happened to him, and yet he still did it to me.

What is really funny, though, is that he is very heavily involved in the Boys & Girls Club and has been for years. I don't know how he fails to see the irony in that, haha.

dennismgordon1 karma

maybe he feels like he lost it with you and is attempting to make up for it by involving himself so heavily in a club geared toward helping kids.

westward_man1 karma

And his other children.

bunhie2 karma

My biological father left me and my mother when i was a few weeks old, i really had no idea how common it is to have been abandon.

westward_man4 karma

It's absurdly high in the United States, sadly. Particularly within poor demographics and black communities. It is indeed a very troubling and growing problem.

mammothb1 karma

Was it awkward meeting him face to face?

westward_man3 karma

Very. Imagine how many dads are awkward with their sons concerning emotional matters. Now remind yourself that this particular father and son are total strangers.

externals1 karma

Do you know anyone, or have any friends who are in the same situation as yours?

How did they react, if they knew about it, when you planned to do this, and also after?

What advice do you have to other kids who are in the same boat as you were?

westward_man1 karma

I did, but I was the only one who tried to make contact. None of my peers felt the need or were otherwise too scared.

My biggest advice, honestly, is to follow your heart. Don't think you have to seek out that absent parent if you don't want to. If you don't want to, then don't: it's probably not worth it, and you're certainly not obligated. But if you do want to, then do it. If people try to dissuade you, mostly ignore them. Honestly, it's a very personal experience and conflict that most of the people around you can't or won't understand.

Cubejam1 karma

I have a similar situation. Though I'm 21, have never asked anything about him, never asked what happened and currently have no interest in finding him.

I'll probably die not knowing what his name is, and I'm fine with that.

After reading your AMA I'm sure I myself will never get anything out of it that'll benefit me or him.

westward_man1 karma

As I've mentioned before, it's not a course of action everyone needs. He certainly felt he didn't need that closure with his father. I felt I did, and despite everything, I'd do it again.

MyNameIsRiffa1 karma

my dad did this to my half brother who lives in france now. Weirdly enough my half brother got in contact with me through facebook last week. I had no idea that my dad had left this kid, or even had this kid at all. Its weird now because this guy/kid half brother of mine is now asking me all these questions about him.. I made my dad call him so that I didnt have to deal with it

westward_man1 karma

That is weird. I added my half-brother on Facebook well after the fact, and I keep in regular contact with him. We have a pretty good relationship.

alvaroqueso1 karma

was it akward for him? what was the first thing you told him?

westward_man2 karma

If it was half as awkward for him as it was for me, then hell yes. The first thing I told him on the phone? "I think I'm your son." The first question I asked was, "Why?"

admlshake1 karma

I can sorta relate to this. My father left my mother right after the found out she was pregnant. I've never really had any desire to meet him or interact with him at all. In fact I'm pretty sure I'd be nothing but angry towards him for leaving me with that hateful woman. However I am curious if he ever had any more kids and what they turned out to be like. However the only person who is still alive that would remember anything is my Aunt and I don't know how to bring it up to her with out her trying to turn it into some sort of Lifetime movie of the week crap, so I've not approached her about it. From what little bits I've been able to put together over the years I guess his parents had a lot of money, and I'm also afraid that they'll think I'm just fishing for cash when in fact I've always been a "I earn my own way" kinda guy and not taken hand outs from anyone when I didn't have to. Bravo to you though, I'm happy you found out some more about the other side of your family.

westward_man2 karma

Thanks. It all depends on your personality type. I'm a very analytical, answer-oriented kind of person, so it was very important for me to know.

aforu1 karma

As a parent who struggles with an abusive ex that still gets to see the kids, I am fully aware of the extent to which a child will maintain the hope/illusion in their own mind that they still have a normal parent down deep, who surely just has some good excuse for not being normal on the surface, which they fear is based on some fault of their own, or that it could be cured by some increased devotion by them. I wish I could convince the kids of the world with absent or abusive parents, that sharing DNA with someone does not mean they have to be a part of your life, or that there's something wrong or missing from you if they're not. I understand you have questions you wanted answered, but what is wrong with the idea that this is a guy who just isn't that interested in having some new person be a meaningful part of his life, and that it has NOTHING to do with you, as a person? Again, I know evolution has made it pretty hard to give up on a parent, but that's not what this person has been to you. I'm not trying to criticize you, or tell you you're wrong for what you did, but I'm trying to understand what's compelling about this relationship for you, which seems, on the outside, to be mostly one sided.

westward_man2 karma

Answers, mostly. I needed to know why. I needed to confirm for myself who he was. I had trouble reconciling the person I was told he was with the things that he did to me. No one else could tell me what happened: I had to judge him for myself. And I'm glad I did, because it developed me far more as a person than he could have as a father had he not been totally absent.

JelloHedgies1 karma

It seems like I'm in the same boat...I'm finding it to be a more and more common thing... /: A lot of my friends still have both their parents and just don't understand it. Anyways....My 'father' left when I was about 1-2yo. I have no idea, I've only seen one picture, but it's been 18 years. I don't know him yet, I have an idea of who he is, but never for sure. I want to meet him, but I almost don't want to tell him I'm his meet him as a stranger, because that's what we are. But I live with my parents, who have a bad history with him...I guess he came back into my life at one point, but I found that out on my own, my parents didn't tell me that, so I can't go hunt him down yet. I'm glad you went out and met him, filled some empty hole in you. I completely understand that feeling. I'm a lot like my mom, so I understand where most of me comes from...but I wanna know where the rest of me comes from....

EDIT: some typos.

westward_man2 karma

Exactly. A lot of people have been on here berating me for wanting to make those connections and understand that hole in my life. I'm not sure why. This is AMA, not dismiss my course of action as foolish, haha.

tvvin1 karma

One of my best friends was in that same situation and he met his dad after 24 years just last year. He took him with us to play basketball and to go eat. He did not tell anyone and told me and our friends to keep it a secret.

Did you tell anyone (other than Reddit) about this experience? If you did, was your mom (or anyone else you told) okay with it?

westward_man1 karma

I told everyone. I wrote a non-fiction short story about fights we had. I posted pictures on Facebook and friended one of my brothers. It was 100% public.

My mother has let me do my own thing for a good portion of my life. I'm sure she was concerned, but she supported me. My best friends told me I was really brave, but also really crazy.

brerrabbitt-7 karma

If he was paying child support, you weren't abandoned.

Once your mother moved you out of state, he was not obligated to maintain contact.

Odds are, what you think you know and feel about him has been heavily influenced by your mother.

westward_man5 karma

My mother had nothing but praise for him and never once accused him of anything wrong. I grew up having an unusually high opinion of him. He also avoided paying child support for 6 years, so he did not fully pay his legal dues. But you are ignoring moral and human obligation.

My opinion of him now is very heavily influenced by how he treated me when we made contact and how he lied to his family about his past.