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Column: Finding a father figure

‘I'm included in the 32 percent of U.S. children who don't live in a two-parent household.’

%22Even+if+he+isn%27t+my+biological+father%2C+it+doesn%27t+matter+because+I+care+for+him+the+same+way+a+daughter+feels+for+her+father.%22
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Column: Finding a father figure

"Even if he isn't my biological father, it doesn't matter because I care for him the same way a daughter feels for her father."

Photo by Yulyana Clemente

"Even if he isn't my biological father, it doesn't matter because I care for him the same way a daughter feels for her father."

Photo by Yulyana Clemente

Photo by Yulyana Clemente

"Even if he isn't my biological father, it doesn't matter because I care for him the same way a daughter feels for her father."

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A 12-year-old boy laughs and enjoys the view from the shoulders of his father, while another boy resembling the father’s round features demands for his turn to be on top of his father’s shoulders. Watching the events happen is a 5-year-old girl who sits next to her mother while her brothers spend time with their biological father.

I’m included in the 32 percent of U.S. children who don’t live in a two-parent household. My childhood was filled with blissful ignorance that my home was a complete home. When I started first grade, I learned having one parent is not normal.

I despised going to school during the week before Father’s Day because projects for fathers were the only topic of conversation among teachers and students. Every year, I had to say the words that made me feel like an outcast: “I don’t have a dad.” The look teachers gave of pity and understanding were worse than other children calling me names like liar and weird.

The word father only symbolized someone who didn’t want me. I gave up on finding a father until I met the man who wanted to change my definition of a father. I met him at the age of 7; by that time, wanting a father wasn’t in my mind anymore.

This man was Bumaro “Omar” Bautista, who my mother introduced to my brothers and me as a friend to not scare us. He started getting to know us by taking my brothers and me to restaurants, movies and amusement parks. He eventually started giving us rides to school. He introduced my brothers and me to Chinese, Thai and Indian foods.

When middle school started, Omar and I began to have our own little routine without my brothers or mother. We went to Starbucks every morning before school or ate breakfast anywhere that was open at 7 a.m. These mornings became our secret, a bonding time only meant for only us.

One day in Starbucks, Omar and I went to order our regular coffees. When the barista asked me if he was my dad, I responded without hesitation and answered “yes.” When the realization hit me, I had a strong desire for him to be my real father.

When I told my mother about the events that happened in Starbucks, my mother said, “If you don’t want to call him father, you don’t have to; you can call him Omar.”

The name Omar became the only name I thought of when people asked me about my father. He takes care of me when I’m sick, joyful and gloomy. He’s been there with my mother holding my hand through all the memories in the past 10 years. He’s earned the love and respect from my family and me.

Even if he isn’t my biological father, it doesn’t matter because I care for him the same way a daughter feels for her father. I know even if he separates from my mother, he will still not stop loving me like a daughter. Omar is an amazing father who loves my mother, brothers and me with all his heart and I’m confident he won’t leave us.

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Column: Finding a father figure