One man's story of why Father's Day is especially meaningful to him.
When I was a kid, Father’s Day was always something that was sort of an afterthought. We’d always do some silly little craft at the direction of our teacher, and then help Mom choose a tie or a mug or other cliché gift. Dad would always exclaim over how fun/wonderful/surprising it was, and then we’d grill out for dinner.
I never expected to celebrate Father’s Day myself. At 39, I had no “paternal urge” and was quite a committed bachelor. I enjoyed a high-profile lifestyle in New York City, dating mostly twenty-something coeds and society girls. And then I met Cathy.
Cathy was like no one I had ever met before. I was on my way to a meeting and was probably giving less attention to the other people on the sidewalk than I was my cell phone conversation.
She was on the way to court for a meeting of her own. We literally ran into each other on the sidewalk, sending our briefcases and her chocolate mocha coffee flying everywhere.
I know, I know, completely something out of a bad romance novel. But it really happened. In our rush to gather up our own papers, I somehow ended up with her day planner. So I called her to schedule a time to give her back her day planner, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now I know what you’re thinking, what the heck does this have to do with Father’s Day? Well, that’s the catch. That meeting in court to which Cathy was heading when we first met? She was on her way to finalize the adoption of her foster son, Edward.
And that’s how I fell into being a “father.” It had nothing to do with biology. It had nothing to do with working through the agonizing process of adoption. I just fell into it. Cathy made it clear from the first moment that we met that she and Edward were a package deal; love her, love him. No questions asked.
It honestly wasn’t hard to love Edward. The kid had been through so much in his life. Born addicted to crack-cocaine, he was finally removed from his biological mother at 5 years old after getting smacked around for the fifth time by her boyfriend. He bounced from foster family to foster family for a little over a year before coming to Cathy. Under Cathy’s love and guidance, he blossomed into the amazing boy that I met 6 months after I met his mother.
After Cathy and I had been dating for 2 years, I finally popped the question. I don’t think I’d ever been that nervous in my life … or as happy as I was the moment she said “yes.” We were married 6 months later in a quiet ceremony in front of family and friends.
By this point, I had come to regard Edward as my son. I didn’t call him as such, though, and he didn’t call me “Dad.” But there was a very definite bond between us.
Nevertheless, I didn’t expect anything that first Father’s Day. After all, I wasn't a “real” dad. I was a stepfather that came into this boy’s life quite late. And besides, what 13-year-old boy would be interested in making a big deal out of something as mushy as Father’s Day?
So when I woke up that Sunday morning, I was shocked to see Edward standing by my bed with Cathy holding a tray filled with breakfast foods. There was everything I could want and more – a Belgian waffle with whipped cream and fruit, hot chocolate, and coffee.
He looked so hesitant, like he wasn’t sure what I’d say. As soon as I was fully awake, he said “Happy Father’s Day” and thrust the tray towards me.
And just like that I realized that I already was a “real” dad. I didn’t need everything that supposedly made a dad in the eyes of Hollywood and the romance novelists. I just needed a great kid who needed me.
Three days later, we got a call asking if we would be willing to take in another foster situation. Cathy and I had been re-certified as foster parents a few months prior, but weren’t 100% sure that we were truly ready to add to our family. But when the social worker on the other end of the line started telling us about 8-year-old twins Anna and Manuel, we knew that it was more than right.
Fast forward a little less than a year - the Monday after Father’s Day. I finally became an “official” father by adopting Edward myself. As the five of us stood in that courtroom, I reveled in the feeling of family. And I came to understand what Father’s Day really means to me.
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Jane S. Roseen is the Owner and President of Harmony Sweets, an international gourmet chocolate shop. Harmony Sweets' mission focuses on individual consumers purchasing gourmet chocolates from around the world for their friends and relatives, as well as corporate gift giving. Gourmet chocolate gift baskets and personalized chocolates are also available.
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