Question: Hi Luise: I am writing you because I read an answer for one of your other readers who wanted to meet his 18 yr old daughter missing from his life at the age of eight. Your answers to him made a lot of sense and I a facing similar issues. 18 years ago I was seeing a woman for a while. I’m not really sure how long the relationship was. It’s really hard to remember. We both work in the traveling amusement industry and we traveled together. She soon started to feel sick a lot and we had some suspicions that she might be pregnant. We really didn’t know for sure though. She decided she wanted to go home. I didn’t want her to go but she did anyway. I am sure that we exchanged home addresses before she left, but for one reason or another we never contacted each other until about three days ago. I came home from work and found two new friend requests on Facebook. One was from her and the other was from an 18 year-old girl with her last name. It took me a little bit to even realize who it was, but as soon as I did I knew what was happening. I accepted both of their requests and have begun speaking with them. We have exchanged some photos. I now have an 18 year old daughter that I don’t even know. I never knew about her. About four years after her mother left, I met someone else and we have two beautiful daughters together. They are 12 and 14 I am a very affectionate father and I have a very close relationship with them and have always been in their lives even though I am no longer with their mother. When I look at pictures of my newly found daughter I cry not only for the time I have missed but, also out of guilt. Even though I didn’t know about her I still feel guilty about not being part of her life. How can I ever make this up to her? I want to meet her but I don’t even know what to say. I am afraid she will not like me. I worry that she doesn’t believe I didn’t know. I want her to truly know that if I had known about her I would have been there just as I have my other two daughters. I am afraid of meeting her because in my heart I love her but, yet I don’t even know her. I am also an overly emotional person. My other two girls understand me and know how much I love them but I am afraid she will not and she is a grown woman already. I am so nervous and confused. I just don’t know how to handle this and any advice you can give me would be most helpful. R.
Answer: Dear R.: First of all, as soon as you can get your bearings know that there is no right way to do this. Your “new” daughter has probably fantasized about her dad all of her life. Your job is not to live up to her expectations. Your job is to be you. As much as possible try to hold your fears and expectations in check and focus on the miracle. This is one, you know.
And if you can, let go of the guilt. The two of you handled it the way you did and that’s history. You probably wish now that you had pursued it when her mother left and who knows what she, (your daughter’s mother) used as rationale in making the decision she did. That’s all water under the bridge. You may develop a relationship and you may not. You don’t need to make up for anything. Just deal with the present. Here she is, a daughter! That’s enough. And be careful not to let her or her mom change your position of “delighted new father.” Getting some counseling might be wise, as well. This is a lot to digest. Blessings, Luise