My purpose in writing this is to explain some of the pain I have experienced by not having my mother and father raise me. I hope my story can be a cautionary tale for anyone considering sex outside of traditional marriage. In no way do I advocate for abortion. I am very prolife and am thankful my mother gave me life, despite the difficult circumstances and the judgment she faced. Also, it is not my intention to come off as better than anyone else. I’m a sinner saved by God’s grace through Jesus. My mom has matured into a great lady and I’m sure my biological father isn’t a bad guy. I only hope that people will see, through my story, the kind of pain children go through when we don’t use sex in the right way.
I was born to a 17 year old, unwed mother in 1976. I’ve often reflected on the fact that abortion had become legal only 3 years prior to my birth. I know of others my mother grew up with that didn’t choose life for their unborn babies. She has told me that abortion was never an option for her and for that I’ll be forever grateful. Despite that courageous choice, she was still a very young person with no means to raise a baby on her own and a lot of growing up to do. We lived with my maternal grandparents, wonderful people that gave me the stability every young child needs. When I was 4 years old, my mother married someone she had not known for long at all and who lived about an hour outside of our small town. Initially, we both moved to live with her new husband. However, rather quickly, the relationship between my mom and her new husband turned physically and emotionally abusive and she realized it was not a safe environment for me. While her first husband never touched me, the things I was exposed to during that relationship are things no child should have to see.
I moved back to my grandparent’s home but my mom stayed. She eventually divorced her husband, but didn’t move back home. I remember asking her why she couldn’t live with me and she said because she couldn’t find a job in our area. She would come to see me every weekend. It was excruciating when she would leave on Sunday afternoons to return to her home. It was like the worst case of homesickness after she would leave. I remember my grandmother saying, “Don’t cry…you don’t want to make your mother upset.” She seemed to be more concerned with my mom’s feelings than mine. Perhaps she didn’t want me to feel sorry for myself or I guess they figured, “Victoria’s with us, she’ll be fine.” But the reality is that I really wanted to be with my mom. The bond between children and their parents is so strong. I believe it’s a sacred bond that is put there by God. A constant coming and going by my mom was my life from the age of 5 to 10. When I was 10 she married someone in Charlotte and started coming to see me every other weekend. I just accepted it. What else can a child do? I loved her so much and just wanted to be with her all the time. I never remember her coming to a single sporting or school event of mine during my school years, except for my graduation from high school. She was always working or devoting herself to her new family. She had another daughter when I was 12. A few years ago, she and I attended a band concert for my cousin who attended the same middle school I did. As we walked into the school building she said, “I’ve never been here before, have you?” I replied, “I went to school here for 3 years.” This interaction really captured the reality of all of our lost time.
I never met my biological father face-to-face until I was a junior in college; however, I had seen him in the community a couple of times when I was in elementary school. Before that time, I had only seen a few pictures my mom had of him and some high school yearbook photos. She always told me my feet looked like his. She also told me that he had one sister that had been decapitated in a car accident while in high school. My mom told me she is certain that if his sister had lived that she would have wanted to be a part of my life. My mom would often call him my “daddy,” which has always felt wrong to me. A “daddy” doesn’t abandon you. “Daddy” was too good of a word for him. Therefore, I refer to him as my biological father. I appreciate the fact that my family never lied to me about who my dad was. I’ve always known the truth about my beginnings.
One of the biggest by-products of my family structure was ongoing embarrassment and awkwardness. Growing up, I never knew anyone else who didn’t know one of their parents. All of my friends came from married, two-parent households. Most folks knew my grandparents were raising me and didn’t probe for further information. But occasionally questions did come up about who my mother and father were. Obviously, I had an answer for who my mom was, but answering the dad question was always very hard because I never had a relationship with him. I remember being put on the spot by a teacher in front of my freshman homeroom class. The teacher, I guess innocently, wanted to know who my father was but I really didn’t want to explain that one in front of a packed class. Unfortunately, it was never a simple answer. At times, to move past the question quickly, I would just say my grandfather was my father, but then, if the person I was talking to knew my mother, it would end up looking like some kind of incest situation. Telling people the names of your mother and father should never be difficult, but it was for me.
I mentioned earlier that as an elementary age child I came in contact with my biological father in the community. This was the result of the fact that he had a son, a year or two younger than me, who just happened to be on the same recreation soccer team that I was on. He came to see his son play, but never acknowledged my presence. I remember telling his son that we had the same father during a practice. I didn’t mean anything bad by telling him the information I knew. I just wanted to tell him for some reason. He went home crying to his mother who called my grandparents upset. I only know this because I overheard my grandparents talking about it. They never spoke to me about it.
Being raised by my grandparents, I was often mistaken for their daughter. I never wanted this to happen though. While I didn’t care to know my biological father, I did know and very much loved my mother. I never wanted it to appear as though she didn’t exist. Growing up, it felt like I was constantly embarrassed when family friends, and even at times family members, would call my grandparents my mother and father. I’ve always had this need for everyone to be clear on who was who.
As I mentioned earlier, when I was a junior in college, I decided I wanted to meet my biological father. So without a whole lot of thought, I looked him up in the phone book and called him. I explained who I was and he agreed to meet me. We met for the first time at a McDonald’s about halfway between where he lived and my college. We talked for probably an hour. I asked questions and he gave me his answers. He told me that when my mom got pregnant that he wasn’t sure if I was his child or not. It was such a cop-out. He knew. He acknowledged at our meeting that I looked like his sister. He also told me that if we were to have a relationship moving forward, I would need to be the one that pursued that because he felt like he couldn’t ask me for anything. Another cop-out. It takes two to have a meaningful relationship and I wasn’t impressed enough or compelled in any way to move this relationship forward. Still, I think of him from time to time and wonder how he is doing. I wish I had a magic mirror like the Beast gave to Belle. I’d like to observe him from a safe distance. I’m very curious about him although not enough to reach out again…at least not at this time.
While the social awkwardness of my childhood has largely dissipated (I just lay it out in black and white if anyone asks who my father is now), the impact of total abandonment by my biological father, and in part by my mother, has left me with emotional pain that still plays out today. All I ever wanted was the nuclear family: mom, dad, and kid. Interestingly enough, it is my mother, who I love so much, that I feel more hurt by. I guess it is because we did have a relationship while I was growing up, though certainly not a right one. Even though I have forgiven her for not being around, the devil really likes to pick at the scars on my heart. My mother and I are both Christians now, but it’s hard for me to share life with her in the way I want to share life with my daughter. There are still trust issues there for me. On the other hand, during those times when she has apologized for past failures, I feel the need to downplay the pain she has caused me. I just love her so much and it hurts to hear her speaking down of herself. After my daughter was born, a flood of old, hurt feelings came back. These days, I choose to focus on all the good things about her. One thing my raising taught me is how important it is to be there for your kids. My daughter is being raised by both her mother and father who are committed to each other in life-long marriage. And we are raising her to understand how important it is to not have sex until you are married. Even now, at the age of 11, she understands the purpose of sex and saving oneself for marriage. God has an order to things that protects us all.