Editor’s Note: The names have been changed in order to protect the family’s privacy.
In the summer of 1980, Randy and his wife at the time welcomed a baby girl named Erica.
Three years later, Erica’s parents got divorced, and for the next five years, the only child would spend every other weekend at her father’s. She was around ten years old when she decided to live with her dad full-time.Phyllis Buchanan/Flickr
Erica told Dearly:
“My parents divorced when I was three years old and my dad has always be in my life. He could have just chose[n] not to be, but he didn’t. He was a dad and he owned that role.”
And for over twenty years, Erica believed she was her father’s only daughter. That is, until she received a phone call from him the night before he was supposed to visit her while she was attending grad school in North Carolina.
“He was 21, raising hell and doing whatever.”
When Randy was 21, in 1974, several years before he met Erica’s mom, he crossed paths with a woman named Betty who lived in the next town over.
Betty told Randy that she and her husband at the time were going through a divorce. The two engaged in a fling before Betty ultimately went back to the husband she was supposedly leaving.
Erica told Dearly that she now believes Betty was using Randy to help her get through the rough patch she was having with her husband.
Roughly 30 years after his fling with Betty, Randy was sitting in the same local bar he sat in most nights. A friend of his walked in with a woman Randy had never seen before in his life.
When he laid eyes on her, his heart sank. He immediately thought:
“Oh my God, this has to be the girl that everyone was always saying stuff to me about.”
It wasn’t until that moment that he started to believe the very thing people had been telling him for years. That’s when he explained to the friend she came with why he had to leave:
“I’ve got to get out of here. I don’t know what to do, I think this girl is my daughter.”
Growing up, Erica would remember her dad always telling her about how people would say things to him about a girl who looked a lot like their family.Don LaVange/Flickr
However, having never seen the girl for himself, Randy never thought much of it. Erica told Dearly:
“How they never ran into each other, how their paths never crossed living nine miles from each other, is beyond me.”
Not long after he returned home from the bar that night, the woman, Liz, and their friend showed up at his house. Liz told Randy:
“I don’t know who my real father is. Why do you think this?”
Randy didn’t know exactly why he had this feeling that she was his daughter, besides the fact that everyone thought they looked alike and that her mother was Betty, the woman he had a fling with almost 30 years earlier.
“Betty didn’t know her husband couldn’t have kids.”
As Erica explained to Dearly, at the time Randy and Betty met, Betty and her then-husband were struggling to get pregnant.
Now Erica believes that Betty was using her father in order to get pregnant and pass the child off as her husband’s. She continued:
“After knowing the little stories and what Liz has told my dad, I feel like she was using him to get pregnant because her husband—which she didn’t know—couldn’t have kids.”
Years after Liz was born, Betty and her husband got a divorce. After Betty’s ex-husband got remarried and attempted to have kids with his second wife, he was told by a fertility doctor that he couldn’t have kids.
Upon telling the doctor that he had two kids to his first wife, the doctor told him that the girls he raised as his own weren’t biologically his.
It wasn’t until that moment that Liz and her sister realized they never knew who their biological father was and that their mother had lied to them since the beginning.
“Wait a minute, Dad, did you cheat on my mom?”
After receiving the phone call from her dad telling her that she may not be his only daughter, Erica admitted that she was understandably “shocked.” However, the first thing she wondered was if that meant Randy had cheated on her mom.
She told Dearly:
“That was the first thing that came to my mind because there wasn’t that much of an age difference between us, only like four or five years, and I was trying to figure out the math. I knew my dad was 21 and my mom had me at 21 and there is a seven years different between them. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, Dad, did you cheat on my mom?’ He was like, ‘No, no, no, this was a while before I even met your mom.'”
However, after being assured that Randy didn’t cheat on her mom, Erica was pretty open-minded about the whole situation, which allowed Randy to breathe a sigh of relieve.
“He was worried I was going to be upset and hurt by all of it. My dad and I are very close. I remember telling him, ‘Dad, this is not going to have an effect on our relationship because it doesn’t change anything between me and you. I’m not upset with you. From what you’re telling me, you never really knew. You never knew she was out there because her mother never told you.'”
Eventually, Erica started getting excited about having the sister she never had.
“There is no relationship, but I thought there would be.”
Following a DNA test that confirmed Randy’s suspicion that Liz was, in fact, his daughter, they started to get to know each other. Liz met Erica, the rest of Randy’s family, and even introduced her two kids to her new family during their yearly Christmas celebration.Michael Sandoval/Flickr
Everything seemed to be going as well as it possibly could for about six months before it all quickly took a turn for the worst. Erica explained to Dearly:
“There is no relationship, but I thought there would be. She came down here to visit me and brought her kids. My dad was going over to her house and everything was great for about six months.
[But, s]he was getting so much flak from her mom and sister that she just stopped.”
It’s believed that after Betty’s ex-husband learned the girls weren’t his, she started putting the blame on Randy, making him out to be the bad person. But that simply wasn’t true.
“That’s where I have a little bit of anger because I think it’s shi**y of her mom to do that to her. I feel like if I was in her situation, I would tell my mom to ‘kiss my a**’ and that I want to be in his life. I don’t honestly know that’s why she stopped coming around, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it is.
In a way, it was really sad. I thought it would be great for my dad to now be a part of her life and have a relationship and learn more about the two grandchildren he didn’t know he had. She missed out on having a great father.”
The last time Erica has seen her half-sister was almost seven years ago when Liz made a surprise appearance at her bridal shower. However, if there was anything positive to take away from her dad’s story, it’s that it brought Erica and Randy closer together.
And if she could give advice to anyone else going through a similar situation, Erica would say to be open-minded and to always be as honest as possible.