Dear Biological Father
There have been many different versions of myself created by others defining me. Most never meant any harm by it, but whether they knew it or not they were assigning an identity to me that I had to figure out how to understand.
Korie, the girl who’s brother died.
Korie, the mixed girl.
Korie, the girl who lives with her grandparents.
Korie, the girl with a great voice.
Korie, the girl who’s mom died.
Korie, the girl who brings her grandpa to Father’s Day events.
Korie, the girl who is sick.
At some point, I plan to write about all of these versions of myself, but there is one that has been really striking a chord with me lately. “Korie, the girl who brings her grandpa to Father’s Day events.”
I love my Paw (that's what I call my grandpa). He is the wisest and kindest man that I have ever met. He is my father figure, and I am thankful for that each and every day. He loves unconditionally and finds so much joy in his family. When I was younger he would come to my school and church events for anything “father” related. I can remember being asked, “Why is your dad old?” and, “Why don’t you look like your dad?” I would always answer those questions with, “He’s my grandpa.” There never needed to be any other explanation. Paw was what I knew and he was there, so that is what mattered.
But sometimes, I would wonder in the back of my mind who my dad was. I wondered where he was and if he knew about me. I wondered if I looked like him. I wondered if he had a family of his own. I wondered if he wondered about me. I wondered all of the questions that you would think a girl without a father would wonder.
I would make up stories in my head about who my dad was. I never wanted to admit that he was black. I didn’t want to be a statistic, quite honestly. I knew what people thought when they looked at me and I didn’t need to confirm their judgements, even if they were wrong. I liked to imagine that he was a great man. I liked to imagine that if he knew about me that he was wondering how I was and if I was happy. I liked to imagine that one day we would meet.
I finally met my father four years ago. I was a senior in college and was finally ready to know the truth, so I reached out to a friend of my mom’s who I thought might be able to answer my questions. I ended up speaking with my father on the phone, and I can still remember how nervous I felt. I was sitting in the commuter parking lot at Anderson University and speaking to my father for the first time in my life! We worked through the initial shock (he claims he did not know about me), and after exchanging some information we learned that we shared the same birthday. That sent chills down my spine. I felt a connection with this man and I honestly can’t even put it into words.
We eventually arranged a time to meet in person, and the moment I saw him I was completely speechless. I did not know what to do. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to cry. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to ask him a million questions, but I simply said, “Hi,” and let out a nervous laugh. This man was my father. I was this man’s daughter.
Over the past four years our relationship grew. We would speak on the phone frequently and meet for lunches. He was more than I could have hoped for. He was interested in who I was. He seemed to want a relationship with me. I invited him to my wedding, but he had prior engagements with work. When I moved to Tennessee we would still talk on the phone and we would meet for an occasional lunch when I was back in the Indianapolis area. I expressed an interest in knowing the paternal side of my family. I wanted to learn as much as possible. He would tell me about his parents, his sisters, his wife, his sons, but when I pursued meeting them, he shut me out. I wonder about all of them often. He created all of that same wonder from when I was a little girl.
Now, you could be thinking, “Well, maybe he just needed a paternity test to solidify everything?” Trust me, I gave that option many times.
I have no way of knowing any truths. I have no way of knowing if he really didn’t know about me. I have a story filled with holes with an ending like, “We agreed that your mother would have an abortion.” I no longer speak with my father. It has been months since I have ever even received a response from him. I feel like a big shameful secret that I do not deserve to be.
Dear Biological Father,
I am not some mistake that you made in your twenties.
I am not a secret you can keep hidden away.
I am not your “sweetie.”
I am not after your money.
I am honest.
I seek the truth.
I am smart and independent, with no help from you.
I am beautiful. I am bold.
Men can love children who are not their own.
Only cowards do not claim their children.
I learned from a man and am a descendant of a coward.
I deserve to be known.
As always, stay grateful.
-KP (korie pickett)