Mak­ing up for lost time

Friday - - Society -

Pa­trick’s Face­book page. He was dressed ca­su­ally and he got up and hugged me for a long time. Then we both stared at each other, not quite know­ing what to say.

“Wow, wow, wow,’’ he re­peated about 25 times. “Give me a minute, I’m lost for words and that’s not nor­mal for me,’’ he said. I just grinned, happy to meet him.

“That’s OK,’’ I said shyly. I didn’t know what else to say.

Over break­fast he ex­plained why he couldn’t take care of me when I was born. “I’m so sorry, my 20s were a train wreck be­cause of drink,’’ he said.

He had been an al­co­holic when he’d had an af­fair with my birth mother and never tried to con­tact me or speak to her af­ter I was born.

“I am a dif­fer­ent man now,’’ he said. He told me things changed in 2004 when he got sober and found a new mean­ing in life through his faith. He’d been work­ing as a pas­tor for the past six years.

When we met it was like ev­ery­thing made sense – see­ing the faces of my bi­o­log­i­cal mother and fa­ther helped me un­der­stand who I was and where I came from.

He had been 23 when he started see­ing my bi­o­log­i­cal mother, and al­ready had five chil­dren.

Dad and I talked for a long time, go­ing over our life his­to­ries. He now had four more chil­dren, who were all liv­ing in the Phoenix area.

“I am sorry I have to go now – I have a shift at the Mis­sion to go to,’’ he said af­ter we’d fin­ished our break­fast. “Which mis­sion?’’ I asked. “The Phoenix Res­cue mis­sion,’’ he replied.

“On Buck­eye?’’ I asked, some­how not be­liev­ing it could be the same place I worked. “Yes.’’ “That’s where I vol­un­teer!’’ As we talked we re­alised we would have been there at the same The next evening there was a grad­u­a­tion at the cen­tre for some of the guys who had been through re­hab. Dad and I went to­gether with his wife, Janet.

It was so much fun walk­ing around, see­ing our friends who knew us both and ex­plain­ing we were ac­tu­ally fa­ther and daugh­ter.

Later that week I went over to my dad’s for din­ner and met seven of my new brothers and sis­ters – the re­main­ing two were trav­el­ling. The youngest was Alexis, 16, who ev­ery­one called Lexi.

“Oh my gosh, you look just like Lexi,’’ ev­ery­one said when they met me. “You even talk like her!’’

I now had four new sis­ters, and co­in­ci­den­tally our names all be­gin with an A – Amy, Ash­ley, Au­tumn, Alexis and Am­ber.

It was amaz­ing meet­ing them, and I just wanted to get to know them all bet­ter.

I didn’t feel sad that they hadn’t been in my life as I grew up. Now that I knew them, it was as if I had al­ways known them.

Find­ing my dad could not have come at a bet­ter time. Be­ing a sin­gle mum and try­ing to work was not easy.

We got on so well that I moved in with my dad and Janet for a short while with the kids, just so we could catch up on all the lost time. I wanted an op­por­tu­nity to bond with my dad and his fam­ily.

My par­ents have been so sup­port­ive, but it is amaz­ing to know my ex­tended fam­ily, and see my brothers and sis­ters, who all look like me.

Now we have found each other I feel like my life is com­plete. I don’t feel like an only child any more – I have more sib­lings than I could have ever imag­ined.

On Oc­to­ber 30 this year, I mar­ried again, to Travis Flower, 27, who I met at the cen­tre.

I have a lot to thank the cen­tre for. It drew me to my Dad, and was where I met my hus­band. It pays in more ways than one to give some­thing back.

● Amy Roberson, 23, lives in Ari­zona

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