#AskSJ: “I am a 20-year-old woman with two daughters by two different fathers.”
I am a 20-year-old woman with 2 daughters by two different fathers. I am no longer with either of their fathers and I am with someone else now. My youngest daughter’s father barely supports and comes around with meager supplies sometimes. My problem is with my 3-year-old first born. She always notes her younger sister’s father and lately, she has begun asking where her father is.
Her father “Mike” (26 now) was involved in a groin injury at work when we were staying together in South Africa and he was told that he would not have kids in life. I had my period and I returned to Zimbabwe only to find out I was pregnant. I told him and he wouldn’t have any of it. He blocked me from all contact and I have not seen or heard from him since.
We were neighbours here before I moved to another ‘hood. I always hear that he comes home where he spends his disability insurance on heavy parties, goes back to South Africa to cash it some more and comes back to host these parties. Right now my daughter stays with my single mother in the very same neighbourhood where his parents live. My family once called him to a meeting in my absence and I hear that he denied paternity. They got pissed off at him and sent him away without showing him the baby.
His parents have seen the child when I bump into them as “friendly neighbours” on the street. Both his father and mother have separately told me that there is nothing they can do since their son denies paternity. My daughter is their spitting image and it pains me now that she can ask about her father.
My own father only came into my life when I was having complications giving birth to her and he complained that he was called when I was in the hospital where I met him for the first time. He told me to stay away from “Mike” and not make any contact with him. What do I do now?
– ‘My daughter has questions about her father’
Dear ‘My daughter has questions about her father’
This is quite the situation you are in and at 20 years you are very young. Often it happens that doctors will tell a person that they can’t have children and the miracles of the universe later say otherwise. In “Mike’s” mind, he concluded that since you had had your period and was back in Zimbabwe that you cheated and got pregnant by someone else.
At this stage, I advise that you go to his parent’s and deal with this on your own. Times have changed and the traditional route of aunts and uncles may not work. People have their own problems and by the time they try to attend to yours, they may not be in the right frame of mood. The least your family could have done was to show him his child and hopefully, he would have seen her for himself.
When you see his parents, respectfully tell them the story and ask for his contacts. At least they are “friendly” to you and your child when you bump into them. If you can get his contacts then you could send him pictures of his child. He deserves to know whether he wants to or doesn’t. Your daughter will ask you about him for life! If he is still in denial, you leave him alone in the meantime. However every year you should send him a birthday picture of his child.
If he blocks you, you send the pictures to his parents, sister, aunt or something or visit them with the child. No, they are not just friendly neighbours, they are your daughter’s grandparents/relatives. If they all block you, you may want to look into getting a DNA test and a lawyer to get him to pay child support. Both these things require are costly. Either way, you are doing this because at the end of the day she will always be your child. See how your own father only came into your life when you were giving birth? Don’t repeat your mother’s mistake.
Try to keep your cool when dealing with the folks because how you present your case will be the difference. Bear in mind that you are with someone else now and that you have another baby with someone else too. Those are issues that will come up – against you. “Mike” is too young to understand that this may be his only miracle child in life.
Sonny Jermain is an award winning public health, maternal, sexual and reproductive health rights facilitator and this column appears Thursdays on #ENTHUSE. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp +263 77 274 8454. Follow @SonnyJermain on Twitter.