“My fervent search for my birth father at the ripe age of eighteen was reminiscent of an episode of the Maury show: ‘You are not the father, you are not the father, YOU are the father!’ Truth be told, I never had much of an interest in finding my birth father. I found my birth mom and the rest of her family, and for me, this was enough. My adopted father was an amazing dad, so my birth father would have some really large shoes to fill.
I found my birth mom just a couple of weeks before Christmas 2004 at the age of eighteen. I think my birth mother, Holly, and I could unanimously agree Christmas 2004 was the best Christmas either one of us had ever had. It was the first Christmas she had ALL of her kids home with her for the holidays. My older sister had been away for the last five or six holidays working as a dancer on a Royal Caribbean ship traveling the world. My younger brother had just moved back in with her and I had come back into her life after eighteen years apart. It was like all the missing pieces of the puzzle fell into place for her on Christmas.
My adoptive parents and I never really spoke much about my birth father growing up, and I never really asked too many questions about him either. I understood my birth mother was not married at the time of my birth and I did not gather he was really in the picture to begin with. When I found Holly, she was able to answer a lot of those questions about who my birth father was and what he looked like. I learned his name was Danny, he had brown hair, brown eyes, pretty white teeth, and also happened to be a recovering alcoholic who had been in and out of rehab all around the world.
Danny never had any other children after I was born and was subsequently given up for adoption. Danny’s parents were staunch Catholics who were older and had a myriad of health problems. Holly and Danny came to the hard decision they would not tell his parents about my impending birth, since they were going to be giving me up in a closed adoption. I really do not think anybody on that side of the adoption triage ever thought I would just show up again one day after eighteen years. With Christmas rapidly approaching, my adoptive mom started encouraging me to reach out to Holly so she could help me locate my birth father.
My adoptive mom knew I was the only child and he had missed so many years with me, so she thought finding him would be a wonderful Christmas gift for him. I reached out to Holly and told her I was ready to try and locate my birth father. Holly got really quiet and sheepishly replied, ‘I don’t actually know who your father is. Danny was the man I wanted to be your father because he was the best option, but two other men could be your father. I was dating a man named Jackson at the time and I found out he was running around on me with a stripper. In retaliation for his indiscretions, I had an affair with a married attorney and a fling with a friend back then.’
It had probably been about eighteen years since my birth mom had spoken to Danny and she had no idea where he was now. She had no phone number for him and was not even sure if Danny was still living in Jacksonville. Armed with only a first and last name, I started my search for Danny. In 2004, Facebook had only recently been introduced to the world and was only open to college students. Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and all of those other social media platforms didn’t exist yet. With no social media and landlines still being prevalently used, I was not sure how I was going to go about finding Danny.
Honestly, the mission felt like looking for a needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, I gathered my resolve and called the operator and asked her to give me every listing she had for a Danny Taylor. I told her I was adopted at birth and was searching for my biological father, and she was more than happy to oblige. It was about eight or nine at night on a weeknight, but if you know me, then you know I am stubborn and this could not wait until morning, so I started down the list calling people. With every person who answered, I would repeat my story once more, and when I was about halfway down the list and getting weary…I hit the jackpot!
An older-sounding woman answered the phone and I asked her if she had a Danny who lived there. ‘What is this regarding?’ she asked tersely. I proceeded to explain to her I had been adopted at birth and I had reason to believe he was my biological father. I could hear the stunned silence on the other end of the line and knew I had finally dialed the right number. She told me to hold on and then I could hear hushed voices on the other end of the line for what felt like an eternity before he finally came on the line. Danny knew right away who I was and happily agreed to meet me and take a DNA test.
Holly, Danny, my best friend (had to bring her along for moral support), and I all met up for the day to get to know one another. We all got along great and shared stories of our lives up until this point. The time came to get the DNA test administered and then we sat for days after waiting impatiently for the results. When the results finally came in, they revealed Danny was not my biological father, so I was just right back to square one in my search. I had just Jackson, Holly’s boyfriend at the time, and Wade, the married attorney. Neither one of these men was willing to help me in my search. Jackson had recently suffered a stroke, which caused him to become confined to a wheelchair and was going through a bitter divorce.
Wade did not want his wife to find out what he had done eighteen years before, and he certainly did not want his kids or the rest of his family finding out either. Even though Wade told my mom he would not take a DNA test, I felt like he was my only viable option. I was not satisfied with accepting no as an answer from Wade though, so I concocted my own plan and kept it to myself because I knew if I told my two moms, they would have done everything in their power to stop me. Both of my mothers sided with Wade and felt his secret should be kept by all parties involved.
On Valentine’s Day 2005, I got dressed, did my make-up and hair, and drove myself up to the law firm Wade worked for, unannounced and uninvited, to try and convince him to go take a DNA test. I walked into his office and straight up to the receptionist’s desk and asked to speak with Wade. I sat down on the swanky couch and waited for what felt like forever for him to finally materialize. I stood up and Wade greeted me and flatly said, ‘You must be Holly’s daughter.’ There was really no denying the fact I looked just like Holly down to her mannerisms. This was not lost on Wade, either.
Wade rushed me into a private conference room before anyone in his office could get a whiff of the scandal going on right under their noses. Once we were seated at the big conference table, Wade looked me dead in the eye and coldly asked, ‘What do you want from me?’ I replied, ‘I just want you to take a DNA test so I can have some closure and know where I came from. You don’t have to do it under your name. You can go in and do it as John Doe, so nobody will know your secret.’ Wade finally relented and agreed to go take a DNA test anonymously. When the results came back my jaw about hit the floor.
Holly was the one who called me to let me know the DNA results had come back in, and Wade was indeed my biological father. I felt like someone had sucker-punched me because I knew this was the end of the beginning; Wade would never have anything to do with me. I convinced Holly to let me be the one to call and tell Wade he was my biological father. I am not sure why I was so hell-bent on being the one to tell him, but I just had to. It was after office hours when I found out, so I located a home phone number for Wade and furiously dialed before I could chicken out. Wade’s wife answered after a couple of rings and said he was out of town on business. I explained to her I was a client of Wade’s and this was an urgent matter.
He called me back a few hours later and I broke the news to him. I still cannot really remember how the conversation between us went that night. We had lunch one time after this, and then Wade basically paid me off for $5,000 to keep his secret safe and not let it slip to his wife. The money he gave me funded my summer abroad in Greece and Italy that year. Wade kept true to his word; he never reached out or tried to contact me in the following years.
In 2017, I ran into Wade out in public for the first time ever while we were both participating in a 5K race. It had been thirteen years since we had seen one another. We passed right by each other in the corridor, then Wade locked eyes with me, said nothing, and ran in the other direction. I was too stunned and speechless at the moment to confront him. I found out later though the reason he ran off without a word is because his daughter and granddaughter were waiting for him just outside the Landing, where we crossed paths.
Holly had found Wade’s daughter on social media years ago and told me to send her a friend request. I did send her a friend request and for years we were friends on social media, and she never had a clue I was her biological sister. I never told her who I really was because I realized a long time ago, in order to out Wade’s secret, it would involve hurting those around him, the innocent ones…the ones who never asked to be involved in his tangled web of lies.
Wade’s family may never know the real truth, and I’m okay with it. Because at the end of the day, it’s Wade’s loss he chose not to be a part of my life. I am still waiting for the day we cross paths again as we both work in the legal field; my birth father is an attorney and I am a paralegal just like my birth mom Holly. They say the apple does not fall far from the tree, but I like to think I got most of my traits from Holly, because Wade taught me everything a real man IS NOT. Despite the ending my story had, I am grateful I was able to find the truth and close this chapter of my life with my answers fulfilled.”
Read more from Lauren:
Read more adoptee journeys here:
‘BAM. There it was. ‘50% DNA FATHER.’ I knew he was out there, but he had no idea about me. He got the surprise of a lifetime.’: Woman meets biological father 35 years later, ‘He opened his heart and his home’
‘How was it possible my Dad had a son out there for 30 years and nobody knew? We are literally neighbors!’: Woman discovers she lives next door to half-brother she never knew existed thanks to Ancestry DNA kit
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