Who’s Your Daddy?

I will always think of Bob Miller as my real dad.

He did not pass his genes on to me but so what? Bob did all the things good fathers are supposed to do. He read stories to me before bedtime. He played tennis with me. He drove me and my sister, Melissa, to the piano teacher’s house for lessons. (He never covered his ears when we practiced.)

Me and Dad in Virginia Beach 1998
That’s me with Dad in Virginia Beach in 1998

When the fourth grade bully jumped on my back and knocked me down, Dad chased Maureen, grabbed her by the collar and hauled her into the principal’s office.

When I was in eighth grade, my parents wanted to get me into a high school in a better neighborhood. Dad talked to the principal. Tell the school your daughter wants to study cosmetology, the principal advised. Well what do you know? My make-believe interest in hair styling got me into a newer high school in a safer neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side. Way to go, Bob, and good tip from Mr. Mulcahey.

Born in 1910, Bob Miller grew up in a big family – he had something like 10 brothers and sisters. They lived in Menominee, a tiny town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “God’s country,” was how he described the area.

Bob moved south, lived in a boardinghouse when he was young and single and worked as a linotype operator. My mother, Claire, accused him of having that “boardinghouse reach” whenever he helped himself to seconds at dinner. Dad could really eat, especially dessert. For a man with a hearty appetite, Bob was always slender, skinny actually. I used to think I inherited his appetite and metabolism. When I was a girl, I could pack the food away and never gain an ounce. I also have slender fingers which I used to think I got from my father.

claire, bob and bobby
My parents, Bob and Claire, with their son, Bobby, in the 1940s

Bob was an unrefined gentleman. He cursed freely but the words didn’t mean much. He would have been a better dad if he had stood up to Claire occasionally. He always deferred to our high-strung, self-centered mother.

The last time I saw my father, he was flat on his back on a hospital bed. Even though he was dying, Bob gave me a smile when I said good-bye.

Bob Miller was not my biological father but I didn’t know that when he passed away in 1999, less than a year after Claire died. My loving but secretive parents never told Melissa and me we were adopted. We never found a single document related to our adoptions.  One of our cousins told us the truth in 2002.

My biological dad is “not legally known,” as the birth certificate puts it. That makes me some man’s love child. He’s a mystery to me whoever he is. As I wrote earlier, my bio dad liked to play golf but that’s all I know about him. He may know even less about me.

Do you know who your dad is? What do you think of him?

12 thoughts on “Who’s Your Daddy?

  1. I love the way you tell a story! I’m sorry your parents didn’t tell you that you were adopted, I’m sure you feel robbed of your heritage and any kind of closure. Do you think it was a sign of the times that either your adoptive parents were ashamed to tell people they adopted or that they wanted to carry on the illusion that you were biologically theirs? Do you think that they just loved you so much that they didn’t think about how you were adopted, they just knew you were their daughter? I know who my bio father is but he hasn’t reached out to get to know me. I think he’s scared. Men don’t typically get as emotionally involved like women do and they didn’t have to carry us for 9 months and give birth so it’s easier for them to disassociate themselves from “love children”. Funny cliche, by the way, and I just realized I am a love child! Anyway, thank you for sharing that. I will continue to watch your journey as you attemt to find out who your bio father is. Good luck to you! xoxo

  2. Hi Liz. Did your adoptive mom tell you about your adoption? I think that’s only right but then I am a modern woman and my parents were from a different generation. Back when I was born, people tended to keep quiet about adoptions. I guess my parents wanted their new family to feel natural and not “different” and they wanted their daughters to feel loved the way parents normally love their kids. There really is a big difference between a biological mother and a bio dad isn’t there? I feel a connection to my bio mother even though I never met her, she surrendered me and she died 30 years ago. I think it’s that physical connection. I have a biological child myself so I know what it’s like to carry a baby inside for 9 months and give birth. Biological fathers don’t have that connection. Sometimes daddies don’t even know they’re daddies! Thanks so much for reading my blog. Take care, Liz. xoxo

  3. I found out I was adopted when I was 18 by reading through my high school records. My bio dad was deceased by the time I found him. However, I met 4 half siblings and am close with at least 2 of them. By all accounts my bio dad was an alcoholic and not a very good dad. So, I’m lucky to have had the adoptive father I did.

    But, I feel for you not knowing anything about your dad. I know that leaves a large hole in your universe. Keep trying. Someone who knew your bio mom knows something – they just don’t realize it. Keep asking questions even as you try to come to peace with the fact that you may never know.

  4. Hi Jeri. How nice that you established relationships with two of your half siblings. I regret not having started my search earlier. So many sources of information are deceased. I am hoping my DNA test results will connect me with relatives who know who my father is (or was). Thanks for reading my blog and for the encouragement! Lynne

  5. Hi Suzan. Wow. That’s too bad. Did you ever meet your bio dad, Suzan? Is he still living? Did he know about you?

  6. Another insightful chapter. I remember you telling me what a nice man Bob was — always gentle and considerate. Your story is very poignant, Lynne. Is there a book in your future?

  7. Yes, I want to write a book, Allison, but I feel like I should read several good memoirs and take a class in memoir writing first. Thanks for reading my blog! I appreciate your support and friendship. 🙂

  8. I have always known I was adopted. Although it was a closed adoption my adoptive mother snuck around her attorney’s office and recorded my birth mother’s name, so I was able to track her down when I turned 18. When I finally made contact with her she informed me that she had a brief but tumultuous relationship with my birth father – he was a drug addict, a criminal according to her, who led her to heroin addiction. That’s why she didn’t want to keep me, because she couldn’t stand a constant reminder of him. She told me his name but said that he is “either in jail or dead”….despite my constant search for identity, I have not looked for him at all after he told me this.

  9. Hi Bri. I totally understand why you have no desire to find your father. It makes sense. Do you have a relationship with your birth mother? Frankly, the idea of meeting my father in person frightens me. My mother has been gone for 30 years so I feel there’s a good chance my father is also deceased. I assume he burned the candles at both ends like she did. All the best to you 🙂

  10. I understand why you have no desire to find your father. Part of me doesn’t want to find my dad either. I’m actually a little bit afraid to learn about him. Is it comforting to have made contact with your mom? Do you have a good relationship with her?

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