“Yes, this is Frank Dempsey but no, I never donated to a sperm bank. What kind of ridiculous question is that? Is this some kind of prank?”
Sarah’s face flushed with frustration and embarrassment. She ended the call without replying and sobbed as she buried her head in her pillow. When the sobs subsided, she rolled over and stared at the ceiling. Was it just three months ago her world had turned upside down? She replayed the scene again in her mind.
At ten o’clock one Friday night she walked in the door to find her parents sitting on the living room couch. No television on. No books in their hands. Just sitting there. The blood drained from her face. Somehow they knew.
“How was the basketball game?” her dad asked.
She searched his face for clues. He looked nervous but not angry. How did they find out she had not gone to the game but rather to a movie – one of which they would not approve.
Before she could answer, her mom – with red eyes and a cracking voice said, “Sarah, we need to tell you something.”
And the conversation that had nothing to do with skipping out of a ballgame began. The one that turned her world upside down.
Snatches of the conversation drifted back through her mind as she lay on her bed fighting back tears. Five years without being able to get pregnant. Longing to have a baby. Test results that showed he could not produce a child. A fertility clinic. A sperm donor. A fertilized egg. A beautiful baby girl named Sarah.
“We have always intended to tell you – when we thought you were old enough to understand. After praying about it, we decided tonight was the night.” This rushed out of her dad’s quivering lips as his eyes searched her face.
Guilty feelings about the movie were overpowered by a rush of questions.
“You’re not really my father?” She stared incredulously at the man who was her lifelong hero. The man who had kissed her booboos, taught her how to ride a bike, had been her first dance partner.
“Why would you keep this from me all these years?”
“Does everyone know but me?”
“What about all that talk about honesty and sharing our lives?”
“You’re not really my father.” No longer a question. Now a statement of mind boggling, heart rending fact. This man sitting in front of her, tears streaming down his face, was not her father.
Throughout that weekend Sarah bombarded her parents with questions and accusations. Their explanations – excuses in Sarah’s mind – bounced hollow and surreal off her reeling heart. After repeated cajoling, they gave her the name. The man whose DNA flowed through her was Frank Dempsey. No, they had never met him. Yes, his questionnaire sounded like a good match for the child they longed to have. No, they didn’t know where he was today.
The quest to find her real father began that week as she spent hours searching the Internet for Frank Dempseys – followed by countless phone calls. Most men laughed at her question. Some scolded her for her search. Others simply hung up.
Today’s call was the last name on her list. Sarah lay on her bed and fretted that the only father she had ever known was a fraud while her real father could not be found. He had sold his sperm with no thought of fatherhood. Sarah had never felt so alone in the world.
Her cell phone buzzed indicating a voice mail.
“Honey Bear, it’s your dad.” A sob escaped Sarah’s lips at her dad’s use of her pet name. “I missed you at breakfast. Hope you got my note.”
Entering the kitchen, Sarah saw an envelope propped against a box of Fruity Pebbles – her favorite cereal. Inside was today’s page from a desk calendar she had given her dad for Christmas. The verse across the top read, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are . . .”
Beneath, her dad had scrawled, “Even if you can’t see me as your father anymore, it’s great to know we both share the same Father in heaven. I love you so! Your Dad.”
Sarah pushed his speed dial button.
“Daddy? I am His child – and deep down I’ve always known I am yours also. I love you!”
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