A couple of years ago Dallas received a strange message on his MySpace page. A nurse from Missouri wrote, “Are you Dallas Wayne Stoeckel of Clovis, CA?” He showed the message to me. Who could this be? How does she know his middle name?
As soon as I looked at the message and the pictures posted on the sender’s page, I knew. She was somehow connected to my ex-husband—Dallas’s biological father.
“What should I do?” Dallas was 23, but still asked for Mom’s advice on occasion. “Write back. Tell her you are in fact Dallas Wayne and ask if you know her.” He did.
The woman wrote back to say that she was a friend of Dallas’s dad and that after 23 years of absence, he wanted to have contact with him. If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that my ex walked out of our apartment in the summer of 1985 and we never saw him again. Dallas agreed to have contact.
They spoke briefly on the phone. Sadly, Dallas was told untruths.
Despite the lies, I prayed there would be healing. My ex-husband was addicted to cocaine for 20+ years. I watched my children wage their own battles with drug addiction, and I know first hand that an addict is...well...crazy! I hoped and prayed, however, that clarity would come with sobriety and that some kind of relationship would develop. My ex-husband claims to be a strong Christian and he asked me to forgive him for “betraying the vows” of our marriage. I readily forgave him. The truth is, I’d forgiven him long ago. I had to if I was going to love and raise our son in a healthy and happy home.
Over the past two years I’ve had some friendly contact with Dallas’s bio-dad, but Dallas hasn’t been interested in hearing more lies. Besides, Dallas lovingly pointed out, “I already have a dad”. Precious words from a son to my husband Tom—the man who loved and raised Dallas since he was a year old.
About the time my ex-husband popped back into our world I started getting letters from Fresno County informing me that they were collecting back child support monies from the long-missing man. The money wasn’t coming to me, however, but rather it was going to the county to pay them back for the period of time Dallas and I were on welfare following the separation. A couple of months ago Fresno County sent me a letter telling me the debt was paid in full. I asked them how that could be, since I personally never received any court-ordered reimbursement.
My ex-husband sent me the most horrible letter the other day, telling me I’m a liar and that I poisoned Dallas against him. He says he’s hired an attorney to get to the bottom of the child support “truth” since he “can’t count on” me for that truth. It’s been 25 years since he packed his bags and drove out of our lives. Why do his words sting?
While I would love to write a rambling paragraph defending myself, I know that isn't necessary. I hoped that after all these years, this man might actually have an opportunity to meet his son and get to know the awesomeness that is Dallas. Instead, he continues to blame and to deflect the focus from his own irresponsibility and bad behavior.
The mama bear in me wants to rise up and say, “You hurt my kid, and you must be taken down!” No matter how old my children are, the urge to defend and fight for them never diminishes. I really believe that God feels that same frustration when we hurt one another—His kids!
I also know that God allows consequences. It must be hard to sit back and watch His kids suffer because of our own bad choices, but He knows we’ll learn and grow because of it.
Dallas is a strong young man. His life is full. He has loving friends and a supportive family. He’s getting healthier every day. My ex is living with the consequences of his choices, but I can’t help feel a twinge of sadness. He’s missing out.