I've realised reading back over this blog that I've written a lot about my boy, without really even giving much background on him other than the fact that he recently lost his Mother. So let me tell you a little more.
At University, I had a relationship with a Russian woman. She was spending a year in the UK as partof her degree course. We dated for that year. When she was due to return home, we had a choice. We could either continue and attempt a long distance relationship, or we could lovingly let go.
"Do you love me?" she asked me. "Are you IN love with me?"
"I care deeply for you. But I'm not in love with you. I'm sorry."
I felt terrible. But is it ok to lie? Is it ok to say you're in love with someone when you're not? I don't think so.
She was in love with me. But she agreed that a long distance relationship where one person is in much deeper than the other just wouldn't work. We broke up, she left. We kept in touch by email for a while and then, around 3 months after she left she told me she'd met someone and she felt it best for us not to keep in touch. I sent her an email and I told her that while I was disappointed to have to lose touch, I was delighted for her to have met someone.
I heard nothing more until almost 5 years later. The break in the silence did not come from her, but from her solicitor. I was being invited to take part in a voluntary paternity test to establish whether I was the Father of her four year old son. When I received the letter, my jaw almost hit the floor. I reread it hundreds of times and I showed to my sister.
The dates added up. But why on Earth would she not have told me that she was pregnant with my baby?
I went through my contact book and got in touch with everyone from University I could think of who just might have a contact number for her. I eventually tracked down a number for her Mother and got in touch with her that way. The conversation was a series of angry and confused questions on my part and an insistence from her that this was not what she had planned.
Eventually I agreed to the test but declined the opportunity to go to Russia for it. Instead, I asked her to bring her son to England for us to carry out paternity tests here. In the meantime she sent photos that led to my sister telling me, "If he isn't your son, I will run naked through the town centre." Still reluctant to believe it, I brushed the comments off.
A couple of weeks later, she came to England. It had all been worked out so that I would not actually see her and the boy until after we had the results and only if it turned out she was right.
However, it didn't work out that way. I was due at the clinic half hour after she should have left but she hadn't left. I walked in and saw her there with her son and within a split second of seeing him I knew he was my son. And it wasn't just the fact that he was almost the double of me physically. There was just something there. There wasn't even a minute that had passed between me seeing him for the first time and me feeling like his Father. I just became his Dad, right there. It's one of the most bizarre moments of my life but also the one that changed my life for the better.
Of course, we said nothing to him throughout, but after we left the clinic, I went back to her hotel. Once our son was asleep, we talked and talked. I wasn't angry anymore. I was emotionally drained and somewhat confused, but there was no anger.
And she was beautiful, The chemistry was there and despite the questions my head was still full of, we had a great evening talking that night. I left her hotel with my head full of confusion but my heart full of joy.
I called my sister the next morning and I told her, "I am sure he is mine."
The results we received soon after confirmed it.
I was ecstatic. My girlfriend of the time was less happy about it and that period of my life marked the beginning of what would eventually be the end of the relationship I had with her. But I was a Father and my son was the most beautiful living being on the planet.
To cut a long story short, a few months later I asked the Mother of my son to consider a move to the UK. After much red tape and discussion, she brought him here. She was going through a divorce at the time and wanted a fresh start. For a brief period, she and I dated and seriously considered restarting our relationship. We decided against it in the end, for all the right reasons.
Almost two years since I found out about my boy, I'm now a full time Father. His Mother unfortunately passed away seven months ago and that was a devastating blow to both of us.
We now have our 'lad pad' in Manchester. He does incredibly well at school, having picked up English to the same standard of any other native English child his age within a year of being here. He's bright, funny and incredibly brave.
It was an unconventional start for my son and I, but we've more than made up for the four years we missed and there are so many more to come that I've stopped looking back with bitterness about it.
And so this post is dedicated to the late Mother of my son, to whom I owe a lifetime of gratitude for the most beautiful gift anyone could ever have given me. It might have arrived a little late, but when it comes to gifts of that quality, you can't really complain. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I'm only sorry you couldn't share his future.