The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

Dads…Who Didn’t Have To Be

Posted · 6 Comments

Dan and our girl about ten years ago…

It’s after midnight, which makes it Father’s Day, and one of my old foster kids just sent this message:

“can u tell Dan happy fathers day plz and think u i miss u all love u Keri.”

It’s been nine years now since she was ours.  My heart aches for her life now.  But it soars for the memory she holds…one of being loved a long time ago by a man she still thinks of as ‘dad’.

He is the dad…who didn’t have to be.

They are everywhere.  They are the foster dads, neighbors, employers, friends, brothers, strangers.  They are the adoptive dads.  They are the guy down the street who fixes the bikes, or the coach, or the teacher, or the grandfatherly man who slides a nickle from behind his ear.  They are the volunteers, the ‘above and beyonds’, the guy who gives more than he ever receives.  They are the one in the shadows, behind the paycheck, across the world, who step up to the plate when nobody else will.

These men are the role models, setting an example for fatherless children everywhere, saying, ‘Hey…this is what a dad is supposed to do.” So when the children move on they will always have that image of a man, somewhere in the dark corners of their mind, who led by example.  Who loved them.  Who loves them still.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads … who didn’t have to be.



6 Responses to "Dads…Who Didn’t Have To Be"
  1. Kim Caldwell Harper says:

    I was one of these kids….long ago. A family like yours took in a troubled, angry teenager & gave me solidity, NORMALCY, for 3 years…& saved my life. Then I spent a few years trying my best to undo all the good they’d done….surely I didn’t deserve it, right?

    I had a child, made some mistakes & some tough decisions…& became the “weekend parent” while his father, with a fabulous family, did all that a parent SHOULD do. & while I made a few more mistakes as a parent in the ensuing years, the choice to let his Dad, & that amazing family of his, raise this young man, is perhaps the BEST choice I ever made.

    I have a magnificent son, & we are very close. He has benefited immensely from having the warm supportive surrounding of a NORMAL family.

    I still struggle with the nightmares of my own childhood – bio parents that still seem to want to dismiss any accountability for the damage done, & grandparents who were as far from “grand” as a human can get. Years of counseling have allowed me to acknowledge *intellectually at least* that I can move on, & I have. I’m a calm, rational, happy woman with a normal, loving marriage….finally.

    I’ve looked for those foster parents from time to time….still unsure what to say to them. I left without looking back…& I know that had to hurt….hurt they didn’t deserve. I hope they know they saved my life…

    …I hope YOU know you’ve saved lives too….

    Thank you.

  2. Rebecca Sirevaag says:

    ahh. you made me cry. I love being a teacher, and getting to love on students who need it. Thankful for the youth leaders & campus ministers I had who helped me trust men again.

  3. Beth says:

    BTW the email posting only came thru with the photo and caption….none of your writing on the subject…perhaps others had that problem too? I thought “there must be more”, so I checked the website, but others may not bother which means they’ll miss out on your thoughtful and uplifting prose. Blessings.

  4. Chrystal says:

    Brings tears to my heart…thank you for reminding everyone they do matter even if only in someone’s life for awhile <3

  5. Just me says:

    Thank you guys for doing what you do. I can’t imagine the commitment it takes.

    Thank you also for noticing guys like me, and reinforcing the reasons why I’m that guy. I have kids of my own, but every kid on the block (and their friends) know who can fix whatever it is when it breaks.

  6. Karen says:

    Thank you, Keri, for saying it so well!

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