I just received another annoying email from Classmates.com telling me that 46 people have viewed my profile. What does that mean? Did they read it, or just gloss over it? Is 46 a respectable number or should I just go kill myself now? Did they stumble upon my name or did they sit down at their computer, intent to find me because I really am THAT memorable?

I’ll never know the answers to any of these questions. I’ll never know because I’m far too cheap to pay $40 for a one year membership to find out. I must admit – at times the curiosity almost overwhelms my good sense and I find myself reaching for my wallet. But the thing that always stops me is that I’d really hate to think of what this desire to be sought after says about me. I suspect the words “desperate” and “pathetic” could be used…


I feel as though I’ve been longing for validation my entire life. As the child of a single mother, my father was never in the picture. I’m not even sure of his full name. When I was old enough to understand the consequences of making poor choices, I learned that my mother hadn’t known my father very well when I was conceived, so facts about him such as his name, birthdate, or his family are virtually non-existent. With the passage of time, even my mother’s vague recollections of him have faded into impressions – “I feel like he was taller than 6′ 2″, but I can’t be sure…”, she’ll say. Or, “He had dark-ish hair and a nice chin…I think.” What do you mean by ‘I feel…’? I could never resist tormenting her about about her complete lack of vital information on my father, even once going so far as to suggest that she consider carrying a 3×5 index card with her for gathering basic information on any potential sex partners – just in case. As you can imagine, she was not amused by my suggestion.

When I first found out about my broken lineage, like the plucky Nancy Drew, I was determined to solve the mystery with good old fashioned shoe leather and a healthy dose of logic. But after several evenings spent sifting through aging dusty phone books at the local library, and several more spent on the phone chasing down “leads” – a.k.a. calling strangers at the dinner hour who have family names similar to those of the people my mom hung out with over 20 years before – I was forced to admit that my search was going to require something more than determination; it was going to need luck and money. I would need those things, because calling these poor people I’d tracked down in the phone book and asking them if they’ve ever known a guy named Steve who was friends with a guy named Todd, who had a cousin who may have been named Jack, is hardly an efficient method for solving a paternity mystery, even if the person you call is very decent and willing to abandon their pot roast dinner to talk to a plucky stranger for a few minutes.

Eventually, I began to realize the futility of my effort. And as more time passed, I viewed the idea of my father as strictly that – an idea. Bottom line: he contributed some biological material and then abandoned my mom to do the hard work. End of story. Besides, my situation is no different from that of thousands, maybe even millions of people who’ve been conceived with donated sperm. In fact, my situation is even better than that of most fatherless children because there was never the false hope of a relationship with my dad.  Sometimes I wonder what kind of person I would be had I had a relationship with him.  Would I be the same person I am now or would I be better, stronger for having known him? Or maybe our relationship would’ve been so painful and messy that I would’ve come out on the other side of it being one of those bitter and distrustful people who drift through life with pets they treat as children, and menial jobs that support their knitting habit.

It’s interesting to me how the exotic allure of my missing background still intrigues my friends, many of whom are also closet Nancy Drews intent on uncovering the truth. They say things to me like, “I don’t know how you can resist looking for your father. I couldn’t stand not knowing who he is.” For years I struggled to respond to that logic, but now my reply is this: “It’s hard, sometimes, to keep my curiosity at bay, but in the end it was easier for me to focus on finding the best father for my children than it was to try to manufacture a father figure for myself.” This may sound corny, or worse, self-righteous, and I certainly am not ignorant of the immense sacrifices made by single parents, but for me, watching my children grow up with a loving, involved father has finally allowed me the pleasure and privilege of knowing through them, the joy of a healthy father/child relationship. I never would have experienced it, otherwise.

Often, as the kids play-wrestle with Dick on the family room floor, I sit back and watch them interact, imagining myself as a little girl, playing on the floor with my own father. Then the poignancy of those thoughts fades and is replaced by feelings of gratitude. As my ears are filled with the sounds of infectious belly laughs from my own mostly happy and fairly well-adjusted kids, I am thankful that they will never need to look further than within to seek the truth about themselves and I can’t help but feel that my father might have been proud of me for that.

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