If you have stumbled onto this blog, you will see my catchy titles and blog name, all revolve around my last name: Hart. If you have known me for a while, you will know this is a very recent change: I’m talking July 14th, 2017 recent.
I have had to dodge a lot of “congratulations on your marriage” comments, and always have to further explain myself. No I wasn’t married, but this is just as equally celebratory! I took my Dad’s last name. My Dad, although not my biological father, has stepped up from the step-father role since day one. He has been patient, kind, and loving in more ways than I could have ever asked a father to be.
You see, my biological father and I don’t have a relationship. I have not spoken to him in seven years. The last conversation we had, was not pleasant, in fact he screamed things at me that I will not validate even here. I gave up trying to have a relationship with a man who never showed up or kept promises my entire life. I, as always in our relationship, was the adult and decided the verbal and mental abuse was enough, and I ended it there.
On my 25th birthday, my Dad, Mr. Hart, came to me and asked me if he could adopt me. I cannot correctly express the feelings that this gave me. I always wanted to be wanted by a father figure, and to have my Dad want to make our father-daughter relationship as real as can be, meant more than I could ever express.
We spent the next six-seven months, filing papers and having my biological father served. Even though I am an adult, because my biological father is alive, he needed to be notified. Once he finally was served, he kept lying about who he was and dodged the processors, we waited. On the eve of the 30 day waiting period, I got notice my biological father was contesting the adoption and had gotten a lawyer. It was for this very reason, that we did not tell anyone about the adoption process.
Fast forward to July 14th. I was optimistic that a judge would hear me and find my life story to be enough. You see, I’ve had this horrible fear (because it had always been true), that people would just keep believing the lies and manipulation of my biological father. After a mediation session that morning, we had come to an agreement. My biological father would approve of the adoption, and him and I would attend a few therapy sessions to try and work on our relationship. I skipped off to lunch during our recess and scheduled the sessions with my therapist, eager to finally have some peace.
When we returned, my biological father had changed his mind; the judge and lawyers spent the next hour trying to convince him that this was a mistake. In a last ditch effort, I (accompanied by the lawyers) told him that if he took me to court he would lose me forever, if he withdrew his contest to the adoption, we could try to rebuild our relationship. He got in my face, and told me to take him to court.
The next five hours were hell, I had to relive horrible moments and I was questioned and belittled by his lawyer. When the judge had heard everything, we all were brought back into the court room for the verdict. I began to shake as the judge returned and spoke of how wonderful my relationship with Mr. Hart was, and how no one would ever be able to take that away from us. She then spoke to my biological father, told him that he could have done more, and then she spoke to me…
The last thing I remember was the judge saying “I truly believe Jamie believes what she remembers.” It was at that sentence, that I collapsed: I blacked out. My Mother tells me that I began wailing, the cries were gut-wrenching she said. The adoption was not granted; but my name change was.
I still have moments where I feel wronged, after all- I am human. I was given the option to appeal the ruling, in fact I have stacks of papers proving my biological father lied under oath. Frankly, I cannot go through it all again.
The most beautiful thing out of that horrible experience is my Dad, Mr. Hart. The night after the court date, no one could sleep- I was met by my mother at 3 a.m. in the living room, and shortly joined by my Dad, as we all talked, cried and tried to process what happened.
He has been so strong; he has never been anything less than a rock of support through this entire process. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I believe that God is protecting us from something which we cannot see. It’s certainly not what I expected, but in it all I have found peace.
Why would I allow my biological father to hold any power over me? I will not give him, or any bad situation in my life, that kind of power. He cannot change my relationship with my Dad, he cannot talk to me, he cannot ruin my days, nor can he pollute my thoughts with negativity. So why, would I allow my mind to take me to such negativity, just because the adoption was not granted- it changes nothing. Begin a Dad is not a given right, it is a privilege, and one that my Dad, Mr. Hart, has risen to!
This situation has brought the three of us closer than ever. Each of us, myself/Mom/Dad, made the choice to be happy in the verdict. We chose not to let this ruling alter our lives, or define our happiness. This is why I am sharing this story with you: everything in life is a choice, and only you control your happiness!
I still call my Dad “Dad,” and I will continue to introduce him as such. We will share the father-daughter dance at my wedding, I still run to him when I get boo-boos, and most importantly we still share that bond that no one can take away. He is my father, my Dad. He may not have donated sperm, but that is a technicality that doesn’t change the present.
I am blessed to have a Dad who loves me unconditionally, who shows me how a man should treat those around him, who lives life selflessly, and who is always there for me. We may have lost a battle, but I feel we’ve won the war. We’ve got the relationship, and the last name to prove it!