The Sins of the Mother
Most of my adult life I believed that Hans was my father.
One day in 1982 I collected all my courage and contacted him. He agreed to a meeting that would end up lasting hours. So many questions on both sides. Including from his wife he had brought along. We had dinner together I’d made in advance, and when we said goodbye he invited us over for dinner at his house.
Unfortunately, that never happened. Within 2 weeks of that meeting we moved due to a job transfer; but there would be mail, or so I thought.
Over the years I kept in touch with letters and photos. From him I received one vacation postcard that his wife wrote. I was always left wondering if his wife hid my letters. She did say in our meeting that Hans having had a child already was almost a deal-breaker for her.
I called a couple of times, but Hans was never home. After a tragic event in 2007 and before heading to Germany, my mom now dead, I called again. This time he answered and we ended up talking for an hour. Catching up, lots of questions from him. When I asked why the silence to my mail he replied that he wants and wanted no contact with me. I asked why he didn’t just tell me so, his answer: I thought you would get the message.
Wow! Return the letters or say something, but this was cowardly. A child never gives up on their parents without a clear message.
And so ended my barely started relationship with my bio father. Until….
Yes, after DNA results that suggested relatives in the US (see previous post), I wanted to know more and contacted him, or rather his daughter, via Facebook.
I talked a little bit about that in yesterday’s post. But here are the gory details.
The daughter forwards a letter from him to me via Facebook messenger. He asks why I want to know about relatives of his in the US and says there are none; what the purpose of this DNA test is; if it was a paternity test between Mr. Wheeler and me; who is Mr. Wheeler.
He writes that my mother declared him the father in court and that she didn’t have sexual intercourse with anyone else, so he was forced to admit paternity with all its consequences (that would have been around 50 DM monthly for my support).
More questions from him: How is it possible that another man makes an appearance after 63 years? Have I known about it all those years? Is it possible to exclude him as my father without a DNA test between him and me? Does my DNA test prove my relationship to Mr. Wheeler? How can he legally find out that this new situation reverses his paternity he admitted to in 1954? He writes that this is a legal proceeding and a few lines on Facebook will not be enough. And that if my assumptions are right, this would be of great importance to him.
As you can see, many more than one question. And not one showing empathy with me and what I’m going through. Just him, him, him.
What can I answer? Yes, he’s not my bio father, but I have no idea who my father is. I have no information about the law in Germany. Also, as a teenager I was adopted by my mom’s husband, so there is no certificate I own naming Hans as the father. At the time, he had to agree to the adoption.
I reply with: Oh my! and that this is better done through email than Facebook messages through his daughter. I give them my email, and promptly get theirs. It’s “chat-with-marianna@….” I get my own email address to correspond with them. No comment to that.
I’m back trying to figure out the mystery of my bio father and the twists and turns in that journey when I receive another email from Hans’s daughter with a letter attached by him. And again it’s a me, me, me letter: Weeks have passed and I should at least answer the questions I can answer. And it should be clear to me that the answers are important and interesting to him as well as his family.
Does he want to know about Hedwig and Don and all the other little tidbits I know? I decide that it’s none of his business. If he would have accepted me over the years we could have shared in the forthcoming information and cried and laughed together. But he showed no interest and so has no right to this personal detective story that’s unravelling. He will get his answer when I know who my father is, in the meantime I let him know he can be assured it’s not him.
He goes on in his letter to inform me that he finds it hard to imagine that a man would be willing to do a paternity test with me. He asks if it is the law in the US. And if I find out the paternity he has to react and fight his status if there is a document. Oh, I should not worry: he will not ask for the return of the unjustly paid support for me.
This floored me. Is there one case where a child over 63 years later is asked to pay back child support? Are you kidding me? What an insult! How generous of him.
He asks me if I know if Mr. Wheeler was in Germany at the time of my conception and if he was in contact with my mother. He is interested in doing a paternity test with me. And wonders whether we would do this in Germany or the US.
He writes about the difference between ancestry and paternity. And that family court in Mannheim would deal with fighting paternity, because that’s where he admitted it.
He reminds me that he had no contact with my mother after Oct/Nov of 1953 (I was made in September). He didn’t find out about my birth until 3 weeks after I was born. (My grandmother found out about me the day of my birth. My mother refused to name the dad, but social services threatened her and she eventually named Hans. So most likely no one knew he was the father for 3 weeks.)
My mother was quiet about the pregnancy when they ran into each other in May 1954, a month before I was born. He claims my mom stayed overnight with an American family she worked for and there were lots of parties. (All I know is that my grandmother worked for Americans. My mother worked for a publisher as a secretary.)
He continues insisting on his right to find out what I know so far. That he’s 82 already and needs to schedule dates in court and find out what needs doing before he gets too old to act.
I have no idea what my mother knew or didn’t. She must have thought he was the father. Or she was playing a big game. At the time she was 16 and 17. I can only guess. But Hans was her boyfriend for a while and they had sex. The circumstances of my conception, we’ll probably never know. It could have been a one-night stand, a rape, a short relationship with a GI, a drunken escapade….
I did write back to his last letter and informed him that he’s not my bio father and that the rest of the information I know should be of no interest to him since it’s personal information that doesn’t pertain to him.
Let’s hope it’s the end of the story and a relationship that never was. If he ends up seeing me you’ll hear me scream throughout Nevada County.