The Natural Father

08331480 June Crane
Assignment   2

The natural father

He was a young man when I first learned of him, the father of my daughter,   just 18 years old.   Although I have never met him, there he has been, on the outskirts of our family for 33 years.   There he has been, at the shoulder of my motherhood, distant yet constant.  

The now lurid photo reflects the time that was the mid-seventies:   my kohl eyes and my husband’s floral shirt, pictured holding our new baby, surrounded by beaming family.   In my toddler son, even then, I see my own face looking back.   The newcomer’s features are unclear, eyes squeezed tight against bright sunlight, her infant shape swaddled in checked acrylic.  

We had met her a week earlier.   She had cried with fury, hungry yet held out for our inspection.   She was our girl from the moment we heard of her existence and we wanted only to bring her home.   ‘You need to know,’ they said, referring to her natural father,   ‘...anything could happen.’   In a photograph, a woman in green hospital garb carries the bundled infant to the car.   I remember, across the toddler in the backseat, my daughter and I held eyes hard and long, for the first time.   The exchange was a challenge, startling and absolute:   here we are then, you and me.  

Time unfolded for our nuclear family of four, for many years, blessed with the relatively privileged trappings of its time, loving and secure.   And against the predictable wallpaper of family life – and through the joy and pain and delight and grief - Sam, the natural father of our daughter, travelled with us.   He was there in the stories that told how our family jigsaw worked.   We saw him in the face of our girl, Ana, whose black eyes and long limbs and curls were at odds with others in the family.   We felt him in the primal, wrenching gulf that could unexpectedly divide us at times when we most needed one another.   We recognised the absence of our biological connection to her talents as she ran and...