The second six months of my marriage were the most difficult, and it had more to do with my adjusting to parenthood than my relationship with my wife. Amy, my daughter, was driving me crazy.
Carol, purposely, spoiled Amy. I should once again ask Carol why. Regardless, I didnt have the skills to deal with a 10 year old girl. She drove me nuts - almost to the point of walking out of the marriage.
So when she turned thirteen I adopted her. Shes my daughter. I wish I had been there for her birth, her first words, her first steps.
At thirteen I thought that she was old enough to make the decision whether or not she would want me for a father; her legal father; her dad. She said yes, and so I adopted her. She was no longer my step daughter. She was my daughter. A little piece of paper shouldnt make any difference, but it did. I was now legally responsible for her. And she had my name - and although shes now married, she still uses my name in a hyphenated fashion.
It sometimes pisses me off when people refer to Amy (and her immediate brothers, Tim and Eric) as Carols kids. It pisses me off. For Christsake, I adopted them, I chose them, as they chose me. Im just fortunate enough that their father was willing to relinquish his responsibility for them.
The other thing that pisses me off are spouses that dont accept the children into the family to which they enter by marriage. They arent our children, but Sams kids or Helens kids. They refuse to own the responsibility of the children.
(Yes I know that there are often dynamics involved that are far more complicated than that. And I dont mean to bore myself with a philosophical discussion on step-parent hood. Often, step parents get a very raw deal, resented by the children, diminished by others. Not pleasant.)
I am very proud of my daughter. She has her Masters in theatrical costume design. I cried when she graduated.
And she gave me two of the best presents that I ever received. For Christmas one year, she sang O Holy Night (my favorite Christmas Carol - which she knew was very, very special to me), in the high school choir. Her other gift for me was letting me be present for the birth of her first child, Vanessa. I wasnt present for Amys birth, but I was there for my first grandchild. A singularly precious event.