Howdy, folks! Thank you for joining me today, and if this is your first visit to my blog, welcome! As you can tell by the title of this particular post, you’ve just stepped into a long 16-year journey that is only just beginning! Don’t worry, I won’t dive right in without catching you up to speed. I will stop right here, and say that before I begin with any potential spoiler alerts (or cause confusion) for those who have no clue what’s going on, I highly and strongly recommend first taking the time to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 inside their respective links.
If you are up to speed on this insanely epic journey, you can bet that I am sure excited beyond measure to share with you this new and spectacular update. As a summary overall, I will say this has been one long, arduous, and incredible genealogical journey of a 16-year search for my biological father, and finding out where I come from. I am but one of many growing stories of those who have grown up without a parent who has been through countless intense emotions with highs and lows during a challenging search for family that seemed impossible to truly ever find. However, like those who have completed their journeys before me and like those who will complete their journeys after me, I am also one of many with a powerful message of hope, faith, and perseverance. “If you quit on the process, you are quitting on the result.”—Idowu Koyenikan.
I’m pleased to announce that I have a treasure trove of content to share with you in this post, but I will take it one step at a time for easier digestion, and first start with what I said in my last post on what I would do—which is share photos of my biological father in his age progression from the photo I have of him at 18 years old to this present day. I have sooo many pictures to share, but before I present them to you in a slideshow below, I want to say that there are a few photos with one of my sisters in it. I totally can’t wait to meet her, by the way, along with my other paternal siblings in January 2020. The photos that you will see of my one sister from when she was a child are the only 3 photos I will ever release in this blog, because I am big on privacy of familial minors (but she is now an adult and I have permission to share them) and of any children who are adopted (I firmly believe it’s not my place to share such photos in so public a manner), but I am sharing the 2 out of 3 photos of my one sister for a very specific reason. The reason I am sharing them is that out of all the pictures I have, I find these 2 photos to be the most beautiful, awe-inspiring photos, and they really speak to my father’s character and the man he is. And now, without further ado, please allow me to present to you a slideshow of my birth father’s age progression. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed putting it together and watching it myself. (FYI: You may notice in certain pictures that “sir name” tags on uniforms and that license plates on cars have been blacked out, which I have done so willingly in order to protect the identities of all my family members, and to maintain everyone’s safety).
That very last photo in the slideshow, before it goes into a loop and replays all again, is the very first present-day photo I saw of my father after I discovered his true identity. The moment my aunt showed me this picture on his private social media profile, I knew it was the same man from the photo I had of him at 18 years old. I must confess that after I started talking to him, it was really hard for me to “age” him to his appropriate present-day age, because I had been going for so long on only one picture. All I kept seeing in my mind when I talked to him in many conversation is what he looked like at 18 years old. It wouldn’t be until I would meet him in real life, and put a bunch of his photos together in the age progression slideshow that I could finally see him as he is now. Wait, back up, did I just say I met my biological father?
I sure did, dear readers, and I am so totally super stoked to share my experience with you regarding meeting him for the first time. He and my stepmother were both supposed to visit me back in the middle of April, but because of unforeseen circumstances, their trip was delayed. Disappointment filled us all, but there were super urgent matters that needed their attention first, which I will not divulge. Thankfully, everything has worked itself out, and once matters were handled, we made brand new plans for this following month of May. A couple of people have told me how they wished they could be a fly on the wall as my biological father and stepmother meet me for the first time, so my maternal grandmother filmed it. It was originally 4 minutes and change, but I’ve cut out the first couple of minutes, because it was just voice commentary with really no visual, and I have added subtitles, but here is the video below:
My grandmother accidentally said my stepmom’s first name in the video once, which is why I asked for their approval first before posting the video to this blog, and my dad said the video was fine. That being said, I was so excited to hug my stepmother finally, and pictures in all honesty simply don’t do her justice, as she is so much more beautiful in person. She immediately put me at ease when I first met her, and makes me feel like I can come to her for anything. She’s also an affectionate personality, like I am, and makes me feel like she would never turn down a hug if I just came up to her for one. Bonding and connecting with her is just so easy and it feels completely natural.
As for my birth father, I don’t even know where to begin, except at my first hug with him. Up until that moment, this whole journey of finally discovering his identity and then talking with him had a surreal feeling, but everything became so real to me in the moment he wrapped his arms around me. I had to hold it together with every fiber of my being and not break down in pure happiness. You’ll see in the video that I did shed a few years, but you can’t hear what I’m saying to my dad while he’s hugging me, which is part of why I put subtitles on the video. Our meeting took place finally in the evening on Thursday May 16th, 2019. It wouldn’t be until Sunday evening that I would have an emotional break, but more on that later, I promise.
We spent Thursday evening just talking and relaxing, as well as exchanging Mother’s Day/Father’s Day/Birthday gifts and cards/letters. It was the first time we were all able to do this with one another, so it was a really special moment. I had to work the next morning, but only for a few hours until noon. Once my shift ended, we had a relaxing afternoon, again just talking and getting to know each other, until it was time to head for dinner at Cracker Barrel. After dinner, we all went to see Jesus at the Sight & Sound theatre, a theatre production company that brings the Bible to life on stage. I just want to take a moment to say that pictures don’t do this show justice, and it was epic, and beautifully done! I recommend all who would be interested in seeing Biblical performances on stage to get tickets. Warning: prices will vary, depending on your location of preference.
That being said, we certainly had ourselves a good time on Friday, and we were all absolutely blown away by the evening’s show in Lancaster. I truly wish we would have had more time to show my birth father and stepmom the sights in Lancaster, but there just wasn’t enough time, so next time for sure! Below you will see a picture of my birth dad that he first took on Wednesday to show he was on his way. Then you will see all the pictures we took together on Friday. I really hope you so enjoy the slideshow!
In this next slideshow below, you’ll see we took our sweet time walking around Knoebels, and I went on a few rides with dad (Flyer) and with my stepmom (Phoenix). There was even a ride all of us went on together (Antique Cars). My dad has a picture of me with my stepmom in the front row of the Phoenix wooden roller coaster, so when he sends that my way, I will update the slideshow with those photos. In the meantime, I have the photos of us all on other rides. The only ride we didn’t take pictures on is the Black Diamond, but that’s okay. Grams sat that one out while I rode it with my dad and stepmom, and they certainly enjoyed it. After the Flyer ride, though, dad and I were both out of sorts with our disorientation and not feeling so good. In fact, while we were on the ride, we both simultaneously agreed to never get on that type of ride again (the fact that we simultaneously both felt the same way about this ride makes me laugh now just thinking about it!). They sadly have taken down the Swings, and the Sky Ride wasn’t in operation (the best way to end the day), so we just hit the road after that. We were going to go on the train ride, but since dad still wasn’t feeling good from the Flyer ride, we just ended the day there and head back home—no biggie!
After we came home from Knoebels, we just spent Saturday evening relaxing. When Grams and my stepmom both went to bed, dad and I just ended up staying in the living room, and we watched, I Can Only Imagine, which is an epic movie! It was such a tearjerker, but it was such a powerful, and moving story! I definitely recommend everyone to see it, if you haven’t! I absolutely enjoyed watching it for the first time, and watching it with my dad no less. In the next (and final) slideshow, you will see Sunday Funday’s festivities of introducing them to my church family (with some photos before and after the sermon). Afterwards, it was an afternoon of relaxation, playing card games, and introducing my dad and stepmom to my oldest maternal aunt (and her husband), as well as my maternal uncle (and his fiancé) with a home cooked meal of roast beef in a crock pot (yummm!). My dad and stepmom were enjoying their conversations so much with my maternal family that we all forgot to take pictures with them together.
I mostly watched as my dad and stepmom interacted with my maternal family. They were all so well engaged in conversation, which seemed like it could go on and on for hours. I was trying so, so, so hard to keep from emotionally breaking down (and dad could see this at one point). It was just such a beautiful sight to behold, seeing this all unfold in such a natural and easy way. I’m truly at a loss on how to describe how this truly made me feel.
After my aunts and uncles left, I couldn’t stop the tears anymore. Grams saw it and pulled me into her arms. My stepmom and dad did as well. I was just so unbelievably happy that everything was going so well and had fallen into place. I was so happy to meet them, to bond with them, to make memories with them in person. Even now I have tears in my eyes, because I’m just so in peace about everything, just feeling so much immeasurable joy!
Grams and my stepmom both went to the grocery store for a bit after I pulled myself together, and that left dad and me to having a beautiful bonding experience over our family tree stuff where there’s just so much history to sort through. We knew we wouldn’t have the time to go through it all, but I got some basics for now, until we can go in depth with it sometime down the road. I absolutely love doing this genealogical stuff with him, as it helps me to feel closer to my ancestry, and that gets no more precious than that! In the last photo of the slideshow above for Sunday, you will see just how happy my dad and I are over this whole experience of finally meeting one another after having been without each other for over 3 decades. That was the last photo we took together, but that’s only for this trip. There will be plenty of opportunities on other gatherings where we’ll all get to take many, many more pics.
I already seriously can’t wait to go visit all of them in January, because I’m going crazy not being able to meet my siblings yet, and I really want to spend some time with them too. Even though I have finally ended the search of searching for my biological father and paternal lineage, I can say that this journey is only the beginning, and it’s off to a beautiful start! That being said, I hope my story has been inspiring to you. I will probably do one more update in January 2020 on this adventure to tell you how my experience in meeting my siblings will go (but again, pictures won’t be shown here). In the meantime, I hope my story has shown its testament to the power of determination, hope, and faith, which can be applied through all of life’s challenging moments. If you are someone who has been in my shoes, or you’re in a similar situation, please don’t give up hope! I almost did several times through this 16-year search, but I knew I would regret this if I just quit, and if I had quit on this journey some time ago, I wouldn’t be here today with some amazing relationships I’ve been creating and building. So never, never, never give up until you have found the truth, for you never know what grand adventures you might miss ahead!