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Father of mine
Tell me where did you go
You had the world inside your hand
But you did not seem to know...

Although most of the lyrics of the song technically don't apply much to my current situation, I find this tune by Everclear playing in my head a lot the past several weeks. There have been some interesting developments in my life lately. Not earth-shattering (that might come later) but for now... just very interesting.

For most of you your origins are clear. Most of you see your parents on a regular basis if they're still alive, or every day if you're still living at home. You go to family reunions, birthday parties, weddings, and you see lots of people who look kind of like you, talk kind of like you, and walk kind of like you. Even the far-flung relatives who aren't much like you, there might be a glimmer, a spark of resemblance if you look very hard.

For me, not so much.

It's not a big deal, don't get me wrong. I didn't even know I was adopted until I was 22. As far as the family I know, it's not like I look so dissimilar that you could look at them and look at me and automatically deduce that I don't belong. Which is why I had had no idea. Shortly after I found out I went to a Christmas party with some of the family on my biological mother's side. They were nice and it was interesting to see others that I was actually related to, chatting with them, eating with them as Bill Clinton's impeachment hearings played on the television. I did not actually see my mother, though. I didn't want to from what they'd told me of her: a hermit living in a trailer filled with trash and stacks of old newspapers.

So I learned quite a bit about my mother and that side of the family. It was the only side my mom (note: whenever I say mom I mean my adoptive mom, the woman who raised me) ever had had contact with. I was told next to nothing about my biological father. I was told his name and what city he might be living in and that he maybe had another family. Or something.

That was in 1998 and in nine years I hadn't learned any more than that. I was taken away, not given up, along with my then two-year-old sister (she's a really long story for another write-up; all you need to know is I haven't seen her or wanted to see her for fourteen years). This was mainly due to the fact that I was beaten pretty severely when I was just weeks old. The exact circumstances involving that whole process is still fuzzy to me. I get little pieces here and there, but exactly when it happened, how long I was in the hospital, and why after that the only parent to get visitation was my mother I don't know.

That could change.

You see, I was never on a serious quest to find my biological father or anybody else in the family on either side. That might make me unlike most adoptees. I did a few web searches on a whim and so did my wife, but I never expected to come across what we did. It was a posting on a genealogy site by a woman, speaking on behalf of her uncle who was looking for his kids. She named my sister specifically and the middle name she was born with is so... well let's just say unique... that it would have had to have been an astronomical coincidence that I didn't actually just find a biological cousin.

An email conversation started, where at first I was pretending I just was somebody who knew myself and my sister so I could remain anonymous and safe. After several exchanges I felt comfortable saying I was actually his son - which she was cool with - and I began asking about my father: who he was, what was he like, where was he now, thereabouts? I was expecting to be told he was at least somewhat of a cool person, a decent human being. I understood that the mistake a lot of adoptees made before meeting their real parents was to have expectations too high. I thought I was safely setting the bar fairly low.

As it turns out, my father is a pathetic loser.

First of all, he doesn't have a job. He lives with his mother - who is 80 years old - and is mooching off of her. Second, he punched a former girlfriend in the eye for having the audacity to touch his collection of "army men" (presumably the little green plastic figurines). At family gatherings (reunions, birthday parties) they all call him "bozo." Although there were other details revealed to me those three things went farthest in hashing out the man's character to me.

Of course I have no way of knowing for sure that this woman is telling me the truth about anything. Although I cannot conceive of a motivation to not tell me the truth. But now I have serious doubts about ever wanting to meet my father or have any contact with him. Which would mean that it is unlikely I will ever meet either of my birthparents.

Am I devastated? No. But I am disappointed. I had expected something slightly better. I am nowhere close to being the most normal person in the world, but I turned out all right. I have a great job, a beautiful wife, and an awesome little son. It baffles me when I really think about it how I could have come from such a pedigree. Is it the old nature vs. nurture? Was I simply not with those people long enough? I look at my son and he is so much like me! He walks and - more and more - he talks the same. And he's picking up so many of my mannerisms. Some of them he's had since he was a baby and I am convinced that they had to be genetically inherited somehow. I know it should be a no brainer that I didn't end up like my parents because I wasn't raised by them. When I look into my son's eyes, though, and I see so much of me there and he's only just under three years old, it's not so simple. That's why it seems so odd to me. I also want to see how much he looks like me. I've been sent pictures from my grandmother's 80th birthday party of other people in my family. Some of them do indeed resemble me. But she didn't have any of my father. I want to see if I see more than physical resemblance, though.

This is why I may want to meet this man in some manner after all. I would like to see if I see myself in his eyes, too. But I could be opening Pandora's Box by satisfying that curiosity. Who knows, seeing how successful I have become might inspire him to better himself. A long shot, but possible. He's in his fifties; it's still not too late. Or he could be dangerous - he might of been the one who hurt me (but now the difference is that I hit back). Or he might hit me up for money (the woman I've been talking to says that's a good possibility; I've also been told my mother would do that). But possibly worse than all of that would be apathy. What I had imagined would happen when I revealed to my cousin who I really am was much different than reality; I pictured pandemonium on that end, frantic calls to somebody exclaiming "After all these years we've found him!" But it was more like "Oh hey, that's cool. By the way your father's a loser." If I ever go to meet him and all I get is that indifference the whole event will have been pointless and anticlimactic.

Or something completely unpredictable could happen. At any rate, I have some decisions to make. My cousin has jokingly said she might "fuck with him" and tell him she's found his son but refuse to give out information until he gets a job. I have recently asked her to go ahead and tell him she's found me; I'm curious as to how he'll react. Maybe I'll get my answer then.

I know that I'd be ecstatic if I had found my son after thirty years of being away from him. It's incomprehensible to me at how little some people care for or about their children. It will always continue to be.

My daddy gave me a name!
And he walked away!
My daddy gave me a name!
Yeah.... yeah... oh yeah...

Father of Mine was one of a group of four alien villains appearing in the 2007 Doctor Who episodes "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood." Initially he (and the other aliens) were clouds of green gas, and so "he" is perhaps better deemed an "it." Possessing a time-hopper, the group pursues the Doctor in the hopes of stealing his immortality for themselves; to avoid them, the Doctor essentially hides his Time Lord soul in a wristwatch and travels to pre-World War I England, forgetting who he ever was and living as a school-teacher. But a student (with a convenient brain anomaly which draws him to the watch) finds this watch and opens it, signalling the aliens to the time and place of the Doctor's hiding. It is shortly thereafter that Father of Mine takes on the human form to be associated with him in the series, possessing the stout body of neatly mustachioed Farmer Clark (played, in this human form, by Gerald Horan -- a barrel-chested actor with a career of small character roles stretching back to the mid-1980s).

One would think that, given normal roles of family authority, Father of Mine would be the leader of the group, but that role seems more to devolve upon the malevolent Son of Mine -- indeed, all of the aliens are quite cruel in their immortality quest, murdering many innocents and creating an army of ambulatory scarecrows to attack the Doctor's school. Naturally, the Doctor's memories are ultimately restored, and he then easily defeats the aliens. In fact, it turns out he could have done so from the start, but chose to run and hide from them in order to be merciful to them, to give them the chance to live out their mortal lives and die without feeling his vengeance. But since their avarice denied the Doctor that benediction, they are instead made to suffer for their murderous ways, in the most ironic way, for the Doctor bestows on each of them the immortality they sought, but with a terrible price -- forever trapping Mother of Mine in the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, trapping Daughter of Mine in every mirror in the world (where you can occasionally catch just the most fleeting glimpse of her), and freezing Son of Mine in time as a scarecrow protecting the fields of England. As for Father of Mine, his fate is actually somewhat more mundane. Encumbered with unbreakable chains forged in the heart of a dwarf star, he is left in what seems to be some kind of underground bunker.

One must suppose, naturally, that in addition to gifting (if it can be called that) Father of Mine with immortality, the Doctor must have somehow insured that he would eternally maintain his hefty girth as well, else he might eventually simply lose enough weight to slip out of those chains. Though Son of Mine, in narrating these punishments handed out, wonders if the Doctor might ever forgive and release Daughter of Mine, the distribution of such fates in general raises the question of whether it is ever appropriate to mete out infinite consequences for finite acts, however horrific -- a common complaint about theological doctrines of eternal punishment, though more especially of concern when applied to wrongs less absolute than the murders depicted in this episode.

On a final note, the plot device of the Doctor forgetting who he is while his essence is kept in the watch is reused later in the season when it is discovered that the Doctor is not the only Time Lord remaining, another having previously done the same trick -- but this other is unfortunately the Doctor's arch-enemy Time Lord, the Master.

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