All posts by Kathy

Novelist, Poet, Songwriter/Music Producer

Tips for Father/Daughter Reunions

Many have written to me asking for advice for meeting your father or daughter for the first time. I’ve taken my previous articles and combined them into one article, Tips for a Father/Daughter Reunion.

Tip One: Use a third party to locate the missing family member

It’s not always easy to locate a missing father or daughter by yourself. If all else fails you can hire a private detective, but then you may want to do the actual contact yourself. A private detective may be off-putting for a father or a daughter. However, one option is to locate another family member who may make that initial contact for you by forwarding an email or letter. Be sure to include your contact information in it.

Tip Two: Write a letter as your first means of contact

While there is the possibility of making first contact by using the telephone, expressing your feelings in writing allows you to make sure you’ve said everything you meant to say in the way you meant to say it. Receiving a letter from you also allows the other person time to think over what you’ve said and to process it before responding.

Tip Three: Fathers: Show interest and ask questions

A phone call can get everything off to a wrong start if, out of nervousness, you find yourself rambling on about yourself or your other kids. Not asking about her and listening to you talk about your other kids is the last thing the daughter wants the first time she hears from you—or even the second or third—especially not at the first meeting. In a child’s mind, she may think of you as “my dad.” While some part of her realizes you could have other children, she needs some time to bond with you on a one-on-one basis. Be her dad for awhile—there’s time to introduce the rest of the family later.

Tip Four: Daughters: Be prepared for his side of the story

They say that there is her side of the story, his side of the story, and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Expect that there will be another side of the story and be willing to listen to it. React calmly and try to understand the situation.

Tip Five: Show patience and understanding

The biggest reason that fathers aren’t more open to contacting their adult children is spelled F-e-a-r. Fathers are afraid that they will be blamed for not being there, they will be accused of abandoning the child and they are afraid of being attacked. Fathers also worry about the people in their present life: their wife, their kids, their grandkids, their neighbors, the people at church.

But like any new relationship, with love, understanding, and patience, this relationship can grow into something more. It takes time, the right circumstances and the willingness on everyone’s part. It doesn’t always turn into the father/daughter relationship you’ve always hoped for but sometimes it helps to be grateful for what you do get. And what you do get may surprise you, and make taking that risk of rejection well worth it.

 

Meeting Your Father for the First Time

Nothing prepares you for meeting your father for the first time when you’re an adult. Because meeting this way is not normal. Your father is supposed to be there at your birth and be somebody you have always known. So what can you expect when your search has finally resulted in receiving your father’s contact information either directly or through another person?

First of all, please realize that you will need patience, understanding, and an open mind that there may be circumstances you know nothing about. You will need to put your own emotions aside and put yourself in his shoes. Because the first thing that usually happens is silence. That’s when your emotions go on a roller coaster ride: from ecstasy over finding him to complete rejection when he doesn’t immediately pick up the phone and declare his undying love for you. And then all of those emotions in-between: impatience, anger, loss, sadness, regret, and fear.

Step One: Be Patient

It took my father 2 months to contact me after my uncle gave him my contact information. I cried and prayed on the couch every day. Then we went away for a 1-week cruise to Alaska and when we returned home, I turned on the computer, checked my email and there it was: his email titled, “Knowledge.”

Why knowledge? Well, to him, contacting me was all about responding to my request for information about him. After mulling it over for 2 months, he was still reluctant to take it further, to talk, to connect, to meet, let me into his heart, all the time wondering what the gain was. After all, he had put me behind him years ago. He had moved on, remarried and had another family. And his other children knew nothing of me.

Step Two: Understanding Your Father’s Reluctance

Want to know the biggest reason that fathers aren’t more open to contacting their adult children first? F-e-a-r. Fathers are afraid that they will be blamed for not being there, they will be accused of abandoning the child and they are afraid of being attacked. Sometimes rightly so. Most often than not, it’s complicated. It’s not clear-cut who’s to blame. In many cases, there’s something that’s being covered up. Quite often the mother blames the father, convincing the child to be on her side. And the child does become angry at the father or certainly convinced their mother was right and their father was wrong.

Fathers also worry about the people in their present life: their wife, their kids, their grandkids, their neighbors, the people at church. What are they all going to think about him having this child who suddenly appears on the scene?

Knowing all of this and accepting your father for who he is, then you’ll be more open to understanding he has his own point of view and reasons for his behavior. And that, under the circumstances, he is doing the best he can.

Step Three: Be Prepared for his Side of the Story

Knowing what I know now, I realized I should have expected that there would be another side to the story. But because I was so sure my mother was right, I went into complete shock and anger and experienced deep feelings of betrayal when I discovered the truth. This alienated me from my family. If I had gone in there expecting that she had told me her side and my father had another side, maybe I would have reacted more calmly and understood better what was going on

But like any new relationship, with love, understanding, and patience, this relationship can grow into something more. It takes time, the right circumstances and the willingness on everyone’s part. It doesn’t always turn into the father/daughter relationship we’ve always hoped for but sometimes it helps to be grateful for what you do get.

Read more in Myths of the Fatherless.

 

Relationships with Fathers Influence Relationships with God

You may have read my article, “Relationships with Fathers Influence Relationships with Men.” Or perhaps you have read my book Myths of the Fatherless where I dispel the myths about being fatherless that society often accepts as fact. But since I wrote this article and book, I’ve heard from several men and women about how being fatherless is impacting their marriage, their sexuality, and their ability to trust God.

Because the experience you’ve had with a father figure or lack of father figure sets the stage for your experiences with all male figures, including your Heavenly Father. Often people will tell you that your Heavenly Father is the “father to the fatherless,” hoping to bring you comfort. And that is true. But, first, you may have to work through some issues in order to feel the comfort that a relationship with our Heavenly Father can bring.

How do you do that? Whether you’re a committed Christian or not, the first thing to do is to pray to our Heavenly Father. Perhaps you don’t know how to pray. I’ve learned that simple can be the most powerful. Sometimes just saying or writing the word “Help” or “Help me God” will create a powerful connection to our Heavenly Father. After that, just speak from your heart, tell your story, and share your hurts with God. It’ll probably be an immense relief, getting it out of yourself and onto someone else. Telling our stories is very powerful and who better to tell our story to than a loving, all-powerful Father?

As humans, we were created to tell our stories. Generation after generation of telling our stories led to the creation of books. We live in a powerful era of being able to tell our stories and connecting with other people through the internet-either by joining a group or creating a personal blog.

Author, spiritual leader, and life coach Iyanla Vanzant from the television show, “Starting Over,” says to “Tell your story and heal yourself. Tell your story and heal somebody else.” If anybody knows, she does. She’s lived through it all.

I followed that advice and told my story. It’s been enormously powerful in leading me to healing myself, to healing others, and to healing my relationship with my earthly father and my Heavenly Father. I hope to help others tell their story, too. The method I choose to use is through my writing: articles, blogs, books and especially through fiction. I hope that you will find it helpful on your own journey to healing.

 

Relationships with Fathers Influence Women’s Relationships with Men

It’s less important for a daughter to know her father than it is for a son. That is not true.

Research suggests that fathers are enormously important to a young woman’s development and when the father is missing, for whatever the reason, women suffer in their relationships with men.

All too often women are not even aware that not having a loving relationship with their own father is affecting them in any way. You’re smart, you get good grades in school, you’re an achiever, you’re well-behaved, you’re a nice girl. You have a nice family—a stepdad whom you call “dad.” Nobody sees this as a problem—you don’t see it’s a problem.

Or maybe you’re adopted and the only family you’ve known is your loving, Christian adopted family. Only there’s a slightly nagging feeling, in spite of loving people trying to reassure you otherwise, that “you’re not good enough—you were a mistake.”

There was a storyline on the first season of the daytime television show, Starting Over, where a woman in her 30s was searching for the father she had never met. During the second season, another woman, barely 20, arrived in a state of denial that her biological father was anybody she needed to know. Both women ended up meeting their father and starting some sort of relationship with him. It was interesting that the one who had denied the most had also gained the most. In addition to these 2 women, most of the women in the house were having problems because they didn’t know their father or had other father issues.

Since I had just met my father in 2002, their stories and other stories of adopted children seeking their birth mother or father really hit home and I realized I was not alone. Because once I met my biological father, I knew then just how important it was to know him. And it changed my life. Because the biggest loss of not knowing my father was not knowing myself and only when I finally met my father was I able to put some of the pieces together. And that was key to starting me on the path to following my childhood dream of pursuing a fiction writing career.

The wide range of emotions I felt prompted me to write Sherry Boyd’s story in Lies! Camera! Action! [note: this was my second manuscript and will never be published.] 🙂

In this story, Sherry doesn’t realize why she is having so many problems in her life, not only professionally but most importantly personally, with men. Only when she confronts her repressed feelings to look for her father, is she able to turn her life around.

In my next novel, Real Women Wear Red, Sandy Brown is forced to confront her feelings over being adopted and how not knowing either her birth mother or birth father affected her life. And then she has to make a choice: to accept or reject her birth mother. And what that feels like from the birth mother’s point of view.

In my work in progress, the story showcases 3 women and how not knowing their father affects them in 3 different ways: the serial monogamist, the commitment-phobe (3 broken engagements), and the one who avoids men altogether and finds comfort in women instead.

While I can’t prevent one more child from being separated from their birth mother or father, I can raise the awareness of what it means to a woman to not know her father, and, hopefully, encourage her to take a step towards finding and meeting him, if possible. It took me over 40 years to do it and my only regret is that I waited so long.

 

Tips for Meeting Your Daughter for the First Time

After writing and publishing the story of how I found and met my father in Myths of the Fatherless, I began writing articles and blog posts about it in order to reach out to others. After publishing an article, “Tips for Meeting Your Father for the First Time” I was contacted by a dad who was going to meet his daughter for the first time and he asked me if I had any tips for that. So after thinking about what worked and what didn’t work for me, as a daughter, I began to write down these tips and shared them with him.

In discussing some of this dad’s particular circumstances, though, I came to realize that first and foremost you should do what feels right for you. And while mulling over what that might be, here are some things to consider:

  1. Use a third party to locate the missing family member

It’s not always easy to locate a missing father or daughter by yourself. If all else fails you can hire a private detective to do this for you. But then you may want to do the actual contact yourself. A private detective may be off-putting for a father or a daughter. However, one option is to locate another family member who may make that initial contact for you by forwarding an email or letter. Be sure to include your contact information in it.

  1. Write a letter as your first means of contact

While there is the possibility of making first contact by using the telephone, expressing your feelings in writing allows you to make sure you’ve said everything you meant to say in the way you meant to say it. Receiving a letter from you also allows the daughter time to think over what you’ve said and to process it before responding. Communicating through writing at first can help ease an otherwise emotional situation. This is the time to tell her something about yourself and to tell her you’re interested in knowing about her.

  1. Show interest in your daughter and ask questions

A phone call can get everything off to a wrong start if, out of nervousness, you find yourself rambling on about yourself or your other kids. Not asking about her and listening to you talk about your other kids is the last thing the daughter wants the first time she hears from you—or even the second or third—especially not at the first meeting. In a child’s mind, she may only think of you as “my dad.” While some part of her realizes you could have other children, she needs some time to bond with you on a one-on-one basis. Be her dad for awhile—there’s time to introduce the rest of the family later.

  1. Share your feelings openly and honestly

The question in your daughter’s mind—whether spoken or unspoken—is, “Why weren’t you there for me?” Giving an open, honest explanation is important as well as not being defensive about whose fault it is. You need to take responsibility for your part and to be sensitive to your daughter’s feelings—not in defending yourself. What she wants to know is that you love her and that you’re sorry you missed out on knowing her.

  1. Persevere in love

Hopefully, these tips will help get you started on beginning a long lasting loving father/daughter relationship. But don’t be surprised or give up should you encounter some bumps along the way. It’s an emotional situation and you may run into obstacles along the way. You may also encounter roadblocks set up by those invested in this relationship not taking place. My father and I had a few issues to overcome, but by setting loving intentions, we were able to work through them all and now have a loving father/daughter relationship. It took a few years, a lot of tears, and prayers, but it was all worth it.

 

Birth Mothers Often Have Regrets About Adoption

50 Years Ago Today

She Gave Her Only Child Away

To Live a Life Too Easy to Regret

So begins the song, “Body and the Blood” by Christian artist Janet Paschal.

Listening to this song never fails to make me cry. I wonder how many birth mothers who gave their child up for adoption feel this way. Too often people forget about the birth mother. So many are concerned with the adopted parents’ feelings – more so than even the adopted child. How did adoption become so focused on the adopted parents? True, they’ve emotionally committed to this child and it feels terrifying to have that bond threatened. My heart goes out to them, but we must focus on the child’s feelings first and foremost.

Recently, there was a Florida woman who was being sought because she took her twins to Canada. Her crime? She didn’t have custody. She had given her children up for adoption. As the details unfolded, she had been pressured into the adoption by so-called friends all too eager to adopt her twins, and the birth mother wanted her children back. Okay, not the best way to go around it, but I think too often a birth mother is not understood or supported. As soon as she signs on the dotted line, the child is taken from her and in many cases, the records are sealed. That doesn’t serve her or the child.

Sometimes birth mothers prefer it that way. Giving birth was their shameful secret – they’ve gone on to build a new life and often the new family knows nothing about her past. So when the child discovers her whereabouts and shows up suddenly, she denies who they are.

Sometimes, as the lyrics imply, the birth mother gives up her child, thinking it’ll be best for them and for herself. Only her life doesn’t turn out the way she had hoped – in fact, it turns into one of regret. All sad scenarios.

I continue to hear of an adopted young woman struggling with her identity and not feeling a connection with her adopted parents because they don’t understand her or her need to know her birth parents. Only she has no clue where to start. In the meantime, she dates all the wrong men.

I want to help her, but I don’t know her and should I force myself upon her, I would be perceived as interfering. It’s one of those tricky situations. I’m not sure she would be open to hearing my story anyway. A person has to be ready to hear it and sometimes it depends on who that person is telling it. All I can do is pray.

In the meantime, I continue to raise the issue of what it’s like to grow up without your birth mother and/or father and the importance of knowing your biological family through my articles, book, and blog. And it’s so rewarding when somebody writes to me saying how something I said helped them in their own search.

PS – This story had a happy ending – see Happy Endings Make Me Cry.

Recommended Reading

Myths of the Fatherless by Kathy Holmes

Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl? The Impact on Fatherlessness in the Black Community by Jonetta Rose Barras

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge

 

 

Adoptees Need Support When Voicing Feelings about Birth Parents

“I feel like a mistake.”

“I’m not like them.”

“Where’s my family?”

“Why can’t I find a suitable career?”

“Why do I keep dating the wrong people?”

These are just a few of the thoughts adoptees voice, if you listen to them carefully.

While adopted parents want to believe that they’re the real parents of an adopted child, the truth is they are not the real biological parents. And no matter how loving a home they have provided their adopted child, the child has real psychological needs just like everybody else.

And when an adopted child speaks up, voicing their feelings about their need to know their birth parents, the automatic response of adoptive parents is often one of hurt, confusion, and protest. “Why, we love you just like our own” is the common response and while many adopted parents feel this is the most loving thing they could say, it’s actually hurtful. Why? Adopted children need to express their need to know their biological parents. Not knowing where they come from affects their whole life: who they are, who they might become, who they choose to have relationships with, and what choice or lack of choice they make for a career. It affects all of their life choices, and denying this real psychological need only makes things worse.

It’s far worse to deny your feelings than it is to admit to truth. Admitting to truth may not change things outwardly, but it does give a person a sense of authenticity that affects everything in their life. If their feelings are repressed or criticized, they may feel that something is wrong with them. Because the truth is, the truth, or what they believe inside themselves is what drives their life and influences every decision they make.

Feeling like a mistake is one of the most detrimental subconscious feeling there is. If you believe that you are a mistake, you will turn on yourself and it will show in your life. You won’t believe you deserve the best for yourself and you will make decisions accordingly. Eventually, you may have unhealthy relationships, more prone to physical addictions (such as food, drink, drug, or sex abuse), and an unfulfilled life at the very least.

If you haven’t experienced this yourself or know somebody who has, you may not be as tuned in to this issue. But to anyone who does have up-close experience, the signs are quite clear. And while I wasn’t adopted, I didn’t know my biological father growing up, and I noticied I had similar symptoms as those who are adopted.

I first became aware of my own repressed feelings to find my father when the Oregonian published an article about the new open adoption policy and the resulting controversy. Birth moms felt betrayed because they had been reassured nobody would ever know about the child they gave up for adoption. Adoptees were ecstatic because finally the records would be open and they would be given their first clues as to the identity of their birth moms, and to their identity.

I, too, had little information to go on about my biological father. I later found and met my father and that’s when I started writing about my experience, hoping to share it with others, and to raise an awareness about this topic and the emotional needs involved.

What we mustn’t forget is that the most important person in any adoption is the child. We need to know that going in. It’s not about our need to have a child and to be fulfilled. It’s about caring for a growing human being. And in addition to offering our love and physical care of the child, we also need to make a commitment to support them in their quest to find their birth parents, and, consequently, to find themselves. Because if we really love them, we won’t deny their need to find an important piece of the puzzle about their identity, the decisions they make, and their entire future. And having a loving relationship with them includes a willingness to be open, honest, and authentic. That’s what real love is.

Recommended Reading

Myths of the Fatherless by Kathy Holmes

Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl? The Impact on Fatherlessness in the Black Community by Jonetta Rose Barras

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge

 

5 Steps to Healing For The Fatherless

Who is fatherless? My definition is anybody with a missing dad, a step dad, an adopted dad, an unavailable dad, an abusive dad, or a deceased dad. And while I was in the category of being raised by a step dad and not meeting my father until I was in my 40s, my experience may help others, too.

So why didn’t I meet my father until I was in my 40s? Not only did all those involved decide I didn’t need to know my father, I also denied the importance of knowing him. After all, I had a family, including a mother, step dad, a brother and sister. While they were half-siblings, we all functioned as a family. But when I did acknowledge the rumblings of desire to find my father, I was afraid to upset the only family I had. Fear then ruled my life – until I turned 40.

Since then I not only found and met my father, but I have developed a loving relationship with him. So, what did I learn along the way? I learned there are a lot of myths that society accepts about the importance of fathers. And while my main pursuit was to pursue publication as a novelist, I felt compelled to write a nonfiction book about what I learned after I met my father. My book, Myths of the Fatherless, is the result.

I want to share with you 5 things I learned about the steps to healing I discovered along the way. Some of these steps may also help those who are adopted but instead of just needing to know your father, you also need to apply it to needing to know your mother, too. Here are the 5 steps to healing:

  1. Admitting that somewhere deep inside you is a need to know your father and/or mother.
    Truth has a way of making itself known and when you don’t honor it consciously, it’ll show up in your life in an unattractive, detrimental way.
  1. Learning about other people’s stories.
    There’s a real power in knowing that you’re not alone, that others have experienced the same thing, and to know how they dealt with it. Search for “fatherless” on the internet and you will find web sites, articles, blogs, books, and yahoo groups. In addition to hearing other people’s stories, you need to tell your story, too.
  1. Finding people who will support you in your search.
    You may be surprised to discover who is not supporting you in your search. You need to determine if it’s just out of their fear of losing you or something more. If it’s out of fear, you can take steps to reassure them. But some people do not have your best interests at heart, and you can’t allow them to deter you.
  1. Taking steps to begin your search.
    Here again, you should research your options. Can you do your own search – on the internet perhaps – or do you need a professional? I talk about my choice and the reason behind it in my book.
  1. Seeking to understand some of the pitfalls of searching for and reuniting with a missing father and/or mother.
    I almost messed it all up out of a lack of available knowledge, and I encourage you to tread carefully when you do proceed. Here again, you can do some research on the internet.

Recommended Reading

Myths of the Fatherless by Kathy Holmes

Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl? The Impact on Fatherlessness in the Black Community by Jonetta Rose Barras

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge

 

Real Women Wear Red Review

Review of Real Women Wear Red 
By Jamieson Wolf, The Book Pedler

Kate “Cyn” Francis is in a frump.

Unlucky at love, Cyn wonders if her second chance at love will ever come along. At forty five, it’s been years since she’s had a man in her bed and love in her heart. Her ex, a big fake, turned out to be more lust than love and Cyn wonders if love is possible for women over forty.

At the behest of her close friend Maggie, Cyn decides to take drastic action and change her life. Her old one sure isn’t working for her. She dyes her hair, changes her name and her age and heads out on a Caribbean cruise. On a boat full of men, there’s got to be one Mr. Right among them. Right?

Instead of Mr. Right, Cyn meets two other single women who are also looking for love: the beautiful Sandy Brown is traveling the cruise trying to mend her broken heart. Divorced and self-conscious, she is also looking for love, hoping that she can find someone to make her feel love again.

There’s also Millie Evans. Having sold her publishing empire, Millie is on a succession of one week cruises looking to find her long lost love. A widow after losing her husband, Millie searches for the man she met years ago on a cruise. Even though it is an impossible task, Millie hopes to find the man she loved and walked away from.

When these three women board the S.S. Platinum Queen, they have no idea that their lives are about to change forever. They come together in a time of need for each of them and find each other. Before they can find love, however, they will have to learn to love themselves.

But, thankfully, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished with friendship, more than a few martinis’s and lots of red. A real woman does wear red after all….

I absolutely loved this book. Without a doubt, it was THE best chick lit book that I’ve read in years. It has everything you could possibly need in a chick lit book: girlfriends, a search for love, martini’s, sandy beaches and sexy men.

But, really, Real Women Wear Red is so much more than sandy beaches and sexy men. The novel is about love, loss and the courage it takes to move on with your life. It’s also about the strength needed to look inside yourself be honest with who you are.

What I loved most about Real Women Wear Red is the fact that these women are real. I felt for them, ached for them, laughed with them. I felt like I knew them, like I had known them for years. When I finished the novel, I felt as if these women were my friends, my confidantes. In short, I felt for them.

It’s not every author that can accomplish this. Most chick lit is peopled by cardboard cut out characters that all sound and talk alike. Likewise, the plot is usually the standard girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl pines for boy, boy comes back to girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love chick lit, but it’s rare to find something that fits in the mold and also goes beyond the genre at the same time.

But Holmes has created three very distinct women surrounded by an incredible plot that will take you on the ride of your life. She has done the impossible: created a chick lit novel that transcends the genre and, instead, becomes something else all its own.

Real Women Wear Red is a fast, fantastic read and I loved every word. You will laugh, you’ll cry and then you’ll laugh again. This is not your average chick lit. Do yourself a favor and read it, won’t you?