We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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I never knew him. I sometimes want to know him, but I’m glad I don’t. From the stories I’ve heard, he wasn’t kind, or smart, or even very likable. He’s taken hold of my life despite not being a part of it. He is my biological father, Troy.  Before I was born, my mother and brother lived with him. History has revealed, he was cruel to my brother because he is on the Autism spectrum. He never cared intensely about my mother. After I was born, he never called me by my name. I was always “the baby” or “her,” rather than Hannah. Eventually, when he found out that my mother was leaving him, he threatened that he’d never give up his rights to me for the sole purpose of making my mother’s life more difficult.  Growing up, I became jealous of those who had fully functional families, including my brother, who often got to visit his paternal side. I had never even seen a photo of the man whose blood coursed through my veins. At school,  never knew him. I sometimes want to know him, but I’m glad I don’t. From the stories I’ve heard, he wasn’t kind, or smart, or even very likable. He’s taken hold of my life despite not being a part of it. He is  if I was arguing or angry with somebody, I would hear, “At least I grew up with a dad,” to which I had no comeback.  It weighed me down and continued to tie me to the man who had been abusive towards the most important people in my life. I felt no pity towards him and realized he might be the man I hated most in this world. As I got older, my mother told me I had a half-brother on Troy’s side. I would like to meet him, and hopefully, one day I will. Perhaps he and I have more in common than meets the eye. I accepted the idea that it would be me against the rest of the world.  After years of a family of three, including my mother, brother, and me, we met the fourth: Josiah. My mother’s new boyfriend. I was defensive and careful around him. Clearly, I had trust issues. He and my brother got along wonderfully with some speed bumps here and there. My mother fell in love with somebody the complete opposite of Troy.  Josiah is smart, kind, resourceful, funny, and charming. As my mother fell, so did we. Eventually, my younger brother was born, Jameson, a cheery and brilliant light in my life. I am absolutely honored to call him my brother.  At times I feel that I sat in the dark for so long that when the lights came on, it took years for my eyes to finally adjust to how bright my life truly became. Occasionally, I feel like I’m still sitting in that dark, lonely, cold room, but then I remember to stand up and flip the light switch. I’ve learned, it doesn’t help to turn on the light because then the world is unbearably bright, and I feel ungrateful for the gifts that I have received.  I love and appreciate all that Josiah has given. He has opened a door in my life. If I could say one sentence that I know he would hear, it would be the following: Thank you for helping me turn on the lights, Dad. 

© Hannah Brown. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.