I have a daughter.
It's such a benign statement, especially coming from someone my age. Typical of my peers in myriad categories. Yet, for me, on a personal level, this just feels different. I've spent most of my life thinking of myself as a childfree individual. Sure, I've always been cognizant of the teenage pregnancy that caused me to drop out of school and derail most of my plans for early adulthood, but she was gone — taken away by her mother to someplace far away, and I was instructed to never contact them again. My daughter existed, but for most of my life she has been a phantom, a being existing in the abstract, but never in a palpable way.
I don't know why I took what I was told at face value. Part of me now suspects that this was a cached decision that I made early on in life that I just never really reconsidered. In my mind, she was living well elsewhere without me, and it would be wholly inappropriate for me to butt in, regardless of how many years had passed. This way of thinking stayed true even when what otherwise would have been an appropriate time would pass: I stayed away when she finished primary school; I stayed away when she became an adult. After all, I was not a true father, just merely a sperm donor who had stayed out of things for decades.
Then, a couple of months ago on November 9, I saw a message she had sent me. It was the first time I had been asked to reconsider that cached decision to give her space to become her own person. She wrote to see who I was; to learn about her birth father that had been absent for the majority of her life. This unexpected request turned into an extended conversation where I did my best to represent myself honestly and to give her the knowledge she desired.
I have a daughter.
It's more than just an idle fact now. This is a person who is now, after all these years, a part of my life. While it would be inappropriate to consider myself a father in the sense of being a parent, being the biological father of a person who actually wants me in their life is a title I should be proud of. I suppose I just always imagined that she would desire nothing to do with me, and I allowed the status quo to persist. Yet now I have direct evidence that I am wanted as a "bio-dad", whatever that relationship may mean. And so I am trying to do the best that I can.
I have a daughter, and her name is Adrianah Celes Herboso. I'm only just now getting to know her, yet it's clearly one of the biggest changes to my life in decades. I'm not sure how things will proceed from here, but, whatever happens, I am glad to have her in my life.