Monday, March 10, 2014

A Letter to my Daughter

    This is a very special letter to the young lady I gave up for adoption 18 years ago... today is her birthday.

     Wow, what to say?  Obviously, I have a lot to say to you... 18 years worth and counting.  The first thing, and hopefully the most meaningful, I must say is I'm sorry for my failure as your father:  I know apologies come cheap in our culture, but let me explain:  as I have grown and matured from the selfish little boy who knocked up your mother, I have come to know that the person most responsible for a child, most obligated to support and protect them, and the person most guilty when a child is neglected is his/her father.  I made the wretched mistake of biting off way more than I could chew by conceiving a child I could not support financially, emotionally, or any other way.  I was not prepared to commit to your mother in marriage, yet selfishly thought I deserved the benefits of such a commitment.  When you think about why you were given up for adoption (probably painfully), why you did not grow up with your biological parents, the person you can and should blame the most is me.  That is why I'm humbly asking for your forgiveness.
     As a result, the best thing your mother and I could do was to find a couple who could raise you, who had wisely prepared themselves for children with a stable marriage and prosperous careers.  We chose the folks you have called Dad and Mom, your parents in every sense of the word but the least important (biologically).  I have watched you from afar:  your parents have been very kind to send many pictures over the years;  you probably would recognize most of them!  From everything I've heard in their letters and seen, you have had a healthy, normal childhood;  this is exactly the outcome your biological mother (her name is Angila Watson) and I hoped for. 
     Assuming you can extend forgiveness to me, I would love to get to know you:  your goals and
dreams, your preferences and quirks, and the person you have become.  One opportunity you now have is meeting a whole new family, people who have loved and prayed for you for a long time.  I understand that many adopted people want to understand where they come from, and that is secondarily why I'm writing:  to give you information about your biological family, so you can know us, and maybe even see yourself in us.  I have greatly benefited from learning about the family history, especially our mistakes, so I can recognize and avoid them. 

    To give you a taste, I can give you my life story in a nutshell:  after high school, I wasted my intellect (which also runs in the family) by dropping out of college, and aimlessly subsisting by working at a grocery store;  if you have any older friends working minimum wage jobs, you have a good idea.  I was more than capable of graduating, but I am by nature very lazy (I hope you're not!);  if I don't have to do something right this second, it's tough to find the motivation to do anything right now.  Years drifted by:  I met the woman who would become my wife, but was not inclined to commit to her, so we aimlessly dated. 
     The single most important event of my life was precipitated by a new coworker;  I had been raised in a religious home and was very knowledgeable about the Bible, but obviously left any semblance of morality behind when I left my parent's home.  I was, oddly enough, attending a church, but a more hypocritical man you couldn't find:  the pretense of religiousness I put forth for a couple hours on Sunday ended the moment I got
back home.  So this new coworker started with us at the grocery store, and there was something drastically different about him:  he said he was a Christian, but he actually lived it out every day.  He was smart, funny, and genuinely cared about people;  he brought his Bible to work and read it during breaks.  His commitment to God characterized his entire outlook on life, and when he screwed up, he acknowledged it and asked for forgiveness.  I quickly realized my claim to being a Christian was false and empty, and about 9 years ago, I believe God changed my heart, the core of who I am, and I turned to Him through Jesus for forgiveness for all the horrible things I had done (like failing as your father) and a new purpose.
     It's been quite a ride since then:  I got married, inherited 2 stepsons, became a bus driver, and had a little girl with my wife.  My family life has been the best way God has taught me about myself and
others, through my many failures and occasional successes.  My daughter especially is such a joy to watch and invest in... I never thought God would give me a second chance to be a father with a little girl, so the chance to get to know you after waiting patiently for so long is really the icing on the cake.
     I don't know how you're feeling, or what you've thought or wondered about your origins;  if you are not interested in connecting with me and my family, I certainly won't pass judgment or think less of you.  As I started with, the person most responsible for the distance between us looks at me in the mirror, so I don't think you're obligated to welcome me with open arms.  I do hope that you can forgive me, and are curious about where you come from;   I will respect any decision you make.

Humbly yours,

Brett Schlee

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