Written by Nickolas Gaines — a husband, father, son, Army Chaplain, Leaper, & friend
Leap: Find my biological father in 2012
For me, meeting my biological dad was something that I had wanted to do for 7 years.
I never felt ready.
The hesitancy stemmed from more than just meeting him. It was coming to grips with the fact that I’d have to open a box of feelings–my hurts, wounds, scars, frustration, bitterness, abandonment, and hatred. I knew that once I met him, I’d have to reconcile my past, open those boxes that I had purposely sealed and avoided, and work through deep things that I had tried to avoid.
Conversely, I had this anticipation that I would meet a family that I never knew and possibly have the joy of walking in and finding my place at the table.
Preparing for this leap, I didn’t know if either were going to be true.
I told myself that this could go really bad or it could go really well and no matter which it was, I’d be ready.
I did this because a part of me needed to be whole. Not knowing my biological father meant that I didn’t fully know who I was. The implications of that and its effects on others are deep. No matter what I had done in the past to try and fill that hole, I still felt like my full identity was missing. My Christian faith and understanding of God’s powerful and unconditional love is also the biggest part of who I am. I wanted to model wholeness and these values for my son and those around me. I couldn’t be a Chaplain and hold this brewing hatred get in the way of attempting to have a relationship with my dad.
I knew that if I were to make contact with him I had two choices: 1. To make him feel how much his absence hurt me and make him pay 2. Forgive
Then, after months of talking on the phone and through email, I met him.
I couldn’t get over our similarities: taste in food, how we talk, walk, our flat-footedness, the fact we walk around with a headphone in one ear to avoid holding the phone, I could go on and on. It was uncanny.
However, my dad was a state and national record setting high school and college athlete. He is 6’4 and 250lbs. Me being 6 feet and 175lbs, I am the “small one” in the family.
We hung out for nearly an entire day. I still can’t get over how rich it was.
It was the day I gained a family I never knew. I’ll never forget it.
The past year has been met with lots of tears, laughter, hard conversations, joyful reunions, expressing feelings, and finding closure. There are days this isn’t easy. We’re both human. But we’re committed to making it work and walking this journey together. Ultimately, I’ve started walking through what it means to forgive someone. I would’ve never imagined that my dad and I would have the relationship we do. I also would’ve never thought that I would be welcomed into and received into a family that knew nothing about me for 27 years. It has been the richest and most fulfilling year of my life.
I’ve learned that forgiving someone isn’t easy, but it is necessary. It doesn’t only rebuild what was once broken, it makes us free to be who we were meant to be.