Why I'm Glad My Ex Was An Uninvolved, Absent Dad

by Brandi Jeter Riley
Originally Published: 

The day that I found out I was pregnant with my first child was the day I knew things were not going to work out between my ex and me. I went to work that day like normal. By lunchtime, a colleague had taken me to the ER after I had doubled over with stomach pains during a meeting. One pee test later, and the doctor informed me that the culprit was an unexpected pregnancy. As I waited for ultrasound results that eventually showed I was about six weeks along, I called my boyfriend to tell him the news. He responded by asking if I thought he should come to the hospital.

I don’t know. Your girlfriend just found out she is pregnant and is in the emergency room. What do you think?

I didn’t say that, though. I decided to leave it up to him to make the decision. Since my cousin was already at the hospital with me, he decided that he didn’t need to come. After all, he would have had to cross over the bridge, and by that time, it was just about rush hour. He’d check on me later when I got home. That response is how I knew he wasn’t “the one.”

Since I was pregnant, I knew it wasn’t going to be a clean break. I was not looking forward to being a single mom and co-parenting, but I realized that any decisions I’d be making moving forward would be done with my child’s best interest in mind first and foremost. We would work together to give the baby everything she needed. That didn’t mean we had to be in a romantic relationship.

The pregnancy was tough, and my ex’s presence was hit-or-miss. He came around when he wanted to and disappeared when he had better things to do. Once my daughter was born, he continued to be inconsistent. I wanted to cut him off completely but didn’t want my daughter to suffer by not knowing her father.

Although he only saw her occasionally, when she was an infant, he did see her. But after her first birthday, it became once or twice every few months. He wasn’t paying child support, and he stopped checking in to see how she was doing.

In fact, once when she was sick, he left my house to pick up medicine for her and never returned. I didn’t hear back from him again until a month later.

Yep, my child’s father was a bonafide deadbeat dad.

But that ended up being one of the biggest blessings in my life, and here’s why.

Dating wasn’t something that was on my mind at all, but fate led me to my now husband at a work conference. He and I met the first night and spent the next couple of days getting to know each other. Something about him was different, and I was instantly attracted to his laid-back personality. We dated long distance for two years. Then I packed up my toddler daughter and moved from Philadelphia to California to be with him.

My uninvolved ex didn’t contest the move at all. He wouldn’t have had a case if he tried anyway. He wasn’t doing anything to take care of my daughter, and he knew it. Although he vowed to be a better father and stay in touch with my daughter when we moved, he didn’t even see her before we left for the airport. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, I was engaged within six months of relocating, and I was married six months after that.

A few days after our honeymoon, my new husband came home with adoption paperwork. He had been taking care of my daughter and wanted to make it official. I knew my ex wouldn’t care. We had only heard from him once since the move. The problem was, he wouldn’t answer my calls or fill out the paperwork for relinquishing his parental rights that I’d sent to his house.

Then one day, his deadbeat tendencies started to work in my favor. After two years of not paying child support, the state finally issued a warrant for his arrest, and shortly thereafter he relinquished his parental rights.

My daughter is 9 years old now. She knows she was adopted, but has never asked me about her biological father. She loves her forever daddy, and I’m grateful that I don’t have to spend my life explaining my ex’s absence at birthday parties and other special events. I don’t have to share her at holidays or during the summer and worry whether she’s being cared for.

We didn’t have to get his permission to get her a passport, and I didn’t have to ask if I could take her out of the country on her first international trip this spring.

That day years ago when I first discovered I was pregnant, I never would have imagined that having a deadbeat for my child’s father would end up working out in the end. I’d say I owe him one, but he never did pay that back child support, so we’ll just call it even.

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