Parenthood is a tricky thing. You are given a precious little human to take care of, who depends on you. If you are blessed to have a partner to share in the process, you can breathe a little easier. But what happens when that partner abandons you and leaves you to care for your child all alone? 21-year-old Richard Johnson, came from a broken family. He didn’t think he wanted kids until he met the woman of his dreams and they decided to start a family.
January of 2015, was one of the most incredible months of Richard’s life. He welcomed his tiny daughter Persephone, into the world. He was determined to be the Dad he never had. Everything seemed wonderful, until tragedy struck. Richard found out the baby’s mother, who was suffering with postpartum depression, had fled with his daughter to California. And if that hadn’t rocked his world enough, she reached out to him with a threat.
She said if he didn’t come and collect Persephone immediately, she was going to put her up for adoption.
He rushed to California and retrieved his daughter but as he returned, uncertainty set in. He had never raised a child before, and now he was a single dad. How was he going to raise this beautiful girl on his own?
“I spent more than a few nights holding my little girl as she slept, weeping because I wasn’t sure I was going to be a good enough father for her. One night in particular was the night she first crawled. She came to me and laid her tiny little hand on my cheek and stared into my eyes. I took it as ‘Come on Daddy, we have a lot to do.’ So I told her no more crying for either of us and we were going to fight to be happy. We’ve kept true to that promise.”
He found a support group on a page called Life of Dad. The Facebook group showcased the lives and experiences of other fathers. It gave him hope and encouragement that everything would be okay.
“At first, when I was alone, I was so depressed that I didn’t want to see a bunch of happy couples with their kids. But as I came out of that, I was checking Life of Dad and saw there were other single dads out there. There’s such a terrible stereotype of deadbeat dads, but I know that’s not always the case. Sometimes people are dealt a terrible hand, and it’s inspirational to read their stories.”
He was so grateful to the group for their care and support that he wrote a letter thanking them.
Check it out below:
My name is Richard Johnson, and I’m a single father to a beautiful little girl named Persephone. Her mother left about a month after she was born. We still don’t know exactly why, but we suspect postpartum depression played a part. In the first few weeks of it being just her and me, I stumbled upon your page by accident. I was so nervous and scared about being a father in general, but now I was a single father and had to fulfill two roles. I wasn’t sure I could do it.
I had read every ‘new parent’ book I could find and clocked in over 1,000 hours in YouTube videos from everything to braiding hair and painting nails to theories on how to deal with common parental issues. I then started to watch your page more closely and saw that there were other fathers out there who were in similar predicaments as me.
The page started to turn into a major confidence booster and really helped me through all of this.
We’re both very happy now and continue to grow together every day. She’s now 10 months, and I now get asked by my friends for parenting advice constantly. We’ve come a long way, my daughter and me, and we definitely owe part of that to this page and the people within it. So from both of us, we wanted to thank you.
Persephone & Richard Johnson
Richard may have seen how others coped with this struggle but he was surprised the response to his post was so overwhelmingly supportive.
He’s even asked people to stop negative comments about the baby’s mother. “Postpartum depression is truly a tragic thing and I would not wish that upon my worst enemy.” He also stated that she is an ‘amazing woman’ and in spite of everything he still wishes the ‘absolute best for her.’
“I’ve been reading everyone’s comments and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t became a tad bit emotional. You truly can’t understand how much everyone’s words mean to me. I am constantly criticizing myself on how I can be a better father and this was just the right medicine I needed.”
“I felt this is what a parent should do. I played football when I was a kid, and I didn’t have anyone there in the bleachers. I want to be sure my daughter doesn’t have that experience. It was terrible, it was one of the worst things in the world. As a parent, I guess you do have a choice, but to me there shouldn’t be any choice. You should stick with your kid.”
“You bring a life into the world, you are supposed to love it and nurture it.”
“I want to give her the best start I can. I want to teach her to trust me, to know I will be there when she goes to sleep and there when she wakes up. Now I look forward to every day because it’s so incredible to see her. She smiles when I look at her. She’s my best friend and my little shadow. I talk to her about everything – I know she doesn’t completely understand what I’m saying, but one day she will. I take a lot of pictures and write to her every day, so one day she can look back and form her own opinions about what happened and hopefully she won’t have any anger.”
“People on Facebook say she’s lucky, but I’m the lucky one to have her.”
What an inspiration!
Share this heartwarming letter and spread hope.
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