My biological father, Edwin, grew up in Nicaragua. His father was the type of man who had many children with many women, which meant he didn’t have his father to teach him valuable lessons such as marital love and commitment. When he became a teenager the Iran-Contra war began in Nicaragua. Edwin was 13 years old when he was shipped off to the military, pumped full of drugs, and forced to fight every night.
He has been through much trauma in his early life, which has lead raging PTSD. When met my mother she was her early twenties. This was before she became a Christian. They had me and my sister, but their marriage quickly fell apart due to his perception of marriage and ways of handling conflicts. He began using drugs again, heavy drugs, and he started sleeping with other women.
When they fought, he would be verbally abusive and threaten to take me away from her. Then he would leave—slamming the door behind him and we wouldn’t see him for a few days. My mom made the tough decision that to keep my sister and me safe, they had to get a divorce.
When I was six years old my mom decided she wanted to give marriage another try. She met Steen who had been married before as well. His wife left him and their two children, so at the time he was a single father. Three months after the two met, they got married!
I really liked Steen, but I was so scared that if I began to love him, it meant I didn’t love Edwin anymore.
I would do naughty things, just to test if he would leave. In my experience, fathers left and slammed the door behind them, and I was waiting for him to do the same thing. He never did. He cared for me, laughed with me, prayed with me, love me, but he never left.
When was finally convinced, as an eight-year-old, that he wouldn't leave, I decided to ask him permission to call him "dad." He cried. He was so happy and humbled. He wanted me to know that he always considered me his daughter. As a matter of fact, he wrote us into his Will the week before they got married.
As an adult, I asked him why he never adopted me. He told me he wanted to, but after asking others for advice, they suggested he shouldn’t ask me about it, but wait until I asked for it myself. He didn’t want me to feel as if he was forcing me to choose him. As he said: "Your mom chose to marry me, but the choice to let me be your dad, was your's to make."
A couple years ago I was studying the book of Romans. Romans 8:14-17:
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." - ESV
It became clear to me what God had done in my life through Steen. I knew EXACTLY what it meant to go from "fearful" to being “adopted” with the full benefit of the inheritance. Moreover, what it meant to not be forced, but have the relationship be my own choice to make. Finally, I recognized that I had always been adopted by my dad—just not on paper. Praise God! HE truly is a redemptive Father.
I want to encourage any step-father looking for reassurance. I know, it is not always easy. I would test Steen’s commitment to me all the time. He passed the tests, but he did get angry sometimes, which is fair. Regardless, the point is he never left when it got hard.
Oh! And he would hate it if I didn’t mention that he did an Ironman.
Thank you for reading. I have been wanting to write our story for some time. May God bless you and give you hope and guidance.
Teresa Miller grew up in Denmark, has a degree in Communications, was a missionary with Youth With A Mission for over 10 years, and plays Roller Derby. She co-blogs with her husband, Jeff, about Communication, Relationships, and a Christian Lifestyle.