Everyone’s journey to parenthood is different. For some, it’s trying for months and testing each day until the pregnancy test is positive. For others, they go through fertility treatments, or use a surrogate, or become stepparents, or even accidentally get pregnant. This one Reddit dad shared his unique story today about finding out he is a dad to an 11-month-old baby, and his story is so incredibly heartwarming.
In the “Parenting” subreddit, a dad asked for advice after recently discovering that a one-night stand almost two years ago led to a baby.
“I recently received a message from a one-night stand saying that it’s time l met my child and start stepping up, until then I had no idea he existed,” he explained.
“I obviously asked if he could be mine and why should I believe you after keeping this from me for the last year and a half etc.,” he continued, explaining that he drove to meet with the mom and child only to “stare into the eyes of a child who looks so much like me it was almost embarrassing to bother with the test.”
“Unsurprisingly it came back this morning as a 99.99999999% match,” he wrote.
That’s gotta be shocking to say the least! To get a random text letting you know you’re a dad — and the baby is almost a year old! — would throw anyone a curveball. But this man had the best reaction: he wants to be involved, and he’s looking for guidance.
“I want to step up and try and do the right thing now,” he wrote. “I want to spend some time with him and I’ll be paying the mother maintenance costs.”
I’m not one to overly praise the bare minimum, but this is the best reaction! The mom sounds kinda toxic, TBH (why is she only just now reaching out to the dad?), and he is responding with genuine love and caring right away. That’s a stand-up guy right there.
He does have some challenges though. “My obstacles are a 500 mile journey to see him (each way) and my job which sees me deployed without contact for months on end,” he wrote before asking: “Is getting to know and making a bond with this child potentially more harm than good with me not able to see him for months on end?”
The new dad had more sweet questions for experienced Redditors. “Going to meet him as his father for the first time … how should I behave?” he continued. “I can count the amount of times I’ve held a baby on one hand comfortably. Should I bring gifts? (If so, what gifts?!) Do you read to 11-month-olds or do they not understand?”
Poor guy! He wants to make a good first impression so badly, but he is so clueless when it comes to kids. Luckily, babies don’t care about any of that, and just spending time with his baby is the best thing he can do.
“Realistically with a 1000 mile round trip (10 hours each way) I’ll only be able to spend a few hours with him at a time so I want to try and make the most my time there,” he continued. “Has anyone had similar or comparable experiences? I already feel like a deadbeat parent and I know I’m hardly gonna be father of the year but have others made this work? Any advice is welcome as my knowledge level is zero!”
“I think it is great you are worried about being the best father possible,” one person wrote. “While it is true it is confusing to have an adult in a child’s life sporadically you can still be a part of their life. Make a commitment to see the child on a regular basis whether in person or over the phone. With technology it is so much easier to be a consistent presence in the child’s life. While you are deployed you can have phone calls or record yourself reading bedtime stories so that you can still be a part of the routine.”
Others suggested utilizing technology to help build the relationship as well. “Regularly schedule video calls. Even at a very young age. Start small, 5-10 minutes at a time until they’re older,” another said. “My kids would only see their paternal aunt, uncle, and grandpa once a year at most (lived very far apart, grandpa lived in a whole other country). But we scheduled lots of videos calls, they’d sent presents and we’d do letters and cards. By the time my oldest was 3 or 4 she looked forward to calls with them and their visits were so exciting because they were some of her favorite people. It doesn’t take a lot to make an impact on a child’s life, it just takes consistency.”
My oldest children (5 and 3) only see my brother once or twice a year, but they keep up a relationship with him over FaceTime and video messages and pictures sent back and forth. Now, they look forward to seeing him and aren’t shy at all because they’ve kept up the relationship over the years! It’ll take some effort, but it’s definitely worth it.
The OP did clarify that he can’t exactly do phone calls when deployed. He commented, “Sadly my deployments mean no outbound communications until I return. Best I can do is pre date letters emails and small gifts to arrive sporadically while I’m away? Perhaps that’s better than nothing.”
That’s definitely better than nothing! As are pre-recorded video messages that you email to the mom.
“Pre-record a few videos. Kids love watching a video over and over and over and over,” another wrote. “A few pre-recorded videos singing a song (twinkle twinkle or whatever… hey my son was obsessed with the Ramones at 13 months) will get you far.”
At the end of the day, consistency is key. “As the child of a father who lived 500 miles away and had no idea what he was doing … Do what you say you will do,” one person advised. “A child doesn’t understand priorities, other than when they aren’t the priority. Sitting on the front step waiting for a man who didn’t show for hours is very unpleasant.”
Many people advised him to get a legal custody agreement in place.
“Agree with getting legal agreements in place,” one person commented. “The best case for the kid is to know both his parents stably throughout his entire childhood and the relationship between the adults is clearly unstable given the ~20 month delay in telling OP about the existence of the kid. Have a lawyer establish paternity and figure out a parenting plan so you can ensure continuity for the kid whatever happens between the adults.”
Without a legal agreement, the mom could take the child away at any time and the dad would be none the wiser. Or she could change her mind about visits, and there is nothing he could do about it.
It’s such a challenging situation, but this dad is stepping up in an honorable way — which, arguably, is more than many would do in his situation. This baby will have at least one good influence in their life. We love to see it!
Before you go, check out these unbelievable stories about Reddit’s worst dads.
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