I was having my housewarming party when I met "Philip from the Philippines". We were having drinks, listening to loud music and discussing how he had ended up in California. He had come to America with his mom and sister when he was three years-old to grow up on the West Coast, but he was not aware of the reason for the move until recently.
One day, while he was at college doing his homework when he received a notification on Linkedin:
"- This strange man was saying that he had been looking for me forever and that he was my dad. At first, I was skeptical and thought it was a scam... So I tested him and asked for proofs. He suggested that I’d send him my email address so he’d tell me everything I needed to know. Still suspicious, I gave him my spam address.
15 minutes later, I received his email, so curious, I opened it. In there, in poor English, he was telling stories about my childhood. I read on. It’s when I opened the attachments that my heart dropped: There were a birth certificate and pictures of me and my family… I recognized my mother and my grandmother.
It felt like a dream or a movie. I was thinking “This isn’t real".
My parents had met young, at school, and they loved each other. My mum was 16 and she had started her own business, after having learned to design clothes for Louis Vuitton, and my dad was an engineer. When my mother got pregnant with me, they decided to start a new life in the States, to offer me a better future. The plan was for my mum to establish herself first, marry an American citizen, get a house, and my dad would join us after he would finish his studies".
His mother and the American citizen fell in love, so she cut all contacts with his dad, and changed her and Phil’s names. Later on, she would give birth to his sister.
"- My dad told me about my original name, Abdelkarim, a Middle-Eastern name. Now my nickname is Abe. When he told me about my mother’s name, originally Edna (now renamed Edesna), that’s when I began putting the pieces together. It was the name that my auntie used when she and my mum used to fight...
Growing up, all my friends at school said that my sister and I looked nothing alike. My step-father was abusive to me, but not her. After they got divorced, only my sister got to spend the weekends at his house. I had lost a father figure. My older cousin was the one who taught me everything, from playing basketball to dating girls. I thought that my (step) dad hated me.
Now I know why: I reminded him of my mother’s past. Right now, I am saving to pay back my student loans, but soon, I’ll get a ticket to visit my real dad, who now lives in Germany.
- What’s your conclusion of all of this?
- Well, this was painful, but it was a big eye opener. I have become stronger, a better person, I stopped hanging out with the wrong people.
I stopped feeling guilty, not good enough. And I have forgiven. I tattooed a Phoenix on my arm, the Phoenix rising from the ashes, symbolizing second chances, and a dragon, symbol of strength and wisdom".