When Karisa Smith submitted her post to Love What Matters, a Facebook page that celebrates positive stories and “love in all forms,” I’m pretty sure she wasn’t expecting the response that poured out from across the Internet. But 83k likes, 5,600 shares, and 1.5k comments later, the Internet agrees that Smith certainly knows what matters most.
And I simply can’t agree more.
“They aren’t related by blood, but they are daddy and daughter,” Smith shared, along with a photo she took at 2 AM of her husband comforting their daughter.
“My husband goes above and beyond to take care of her as his own,” she continued. “When she cries, he’s there. When she needs him, he’s there. We don’t use the term ‘step father.’ He is her father. When he fell in love with me, he fell in love with my daughter. He took on a 9 month old and she is now soon to be 3 years old. And is the ultimate daddy’s girl. They are two peas in a pod and the love of a father runs deep. So deep, he has decided to adopt her and the adoption is in process.”
And I think what Smith hit on — the thing that is really making the Internet go wild over this — is that she’s shattering the notion that a non-biological parent must love a child a little less, simply because they are “one step down” as step-parent.
When my own daughter was 3, and my son was 7 months old, my husband told me that he was going to the store, and he never came home. As time passed, and my husband eventually resurfaced, I found myself standing in a courtroom, listening to him tell a judge that he no longer wanted to see our children because they were not worth his time, and that he no longer wanted to be involved with them in any way, shape, or form.
He has never seen them again, nor has he attempted to.
And for a long time, that crushed me, but even worse than that, it crushed my children. “Why doesn’t any daddy want to love me?” my daughter would cry to me at night. I’d find myself sitting there telling her that I loved her, and that was enough.
But it wasn’t enough for her, because she really wanted a dad, and she was hurt that hers didn’t want to be one.
Thankfully our story didn’t end there, and not long ago I got married again. But this time, it was to a man who has been able to do something that my ex never could; love my children as his own. And oh, how he does! He enjoys them so much, that I often find myself feeling guilty for not enjoying every single second of my parenting days. And just as Smith said, when they cry, he’s there, and when they need something, he is the first to jump up and help.
From his dedication to never miss their doctor appointments, to his interest in how their day at school was, he loves them in not only the fun times, but even in the mundane tasks that were never his to tackle in the first place. He understands that parenting isn’t always roses, and he willingly accepts it (just ask me about the time my son had an exorcist-type stomach flu, and my new husband spent hours helping me scrub down our child, the carpet, the bed, and then repeat over, and over again).
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My husband loves my children in ways that I honestly never even knew a father could love a child, and they don’t share an ounce of biological blood between them.
Yet he is their dad, and every time I hear my kid’s little voices beckoning him by his title, I am reminded of that. In every way, shape, and form, he is the father who is loving them, protecting them, and raising them. No label in the world is going to make him take one step down or one step back, because he makes it a point to be front and center in their lives.
As its gone viral, the post has prompted others to share their own similar stories and photos, as well. And those too have proven to be incredibly moving.
“My husband had been my daughter’s daddy since she was 2 months old,” commented Leslie Close-Shibig. “We even finalized a step parent adoption a little over a year ago. No one will ever take his place. We now have a 2 yr old son together. I will admit, I was a little worried of favoritism, but we have never had a problem. He has been an amazing dad to them both!”
“My husband is the only dad my son has ever known and they have such an amazing bond,” shared Dusty Sowards. “We have an awesome blended family!”
“My oldest daughter has the exact same thing,” added Allye Meszaros. “My now ex partner took on the role when she was 18 months old. She chose to call him Daddy. She didn’t know who her real dad was, until she was five (long story.) even to this day, with us not being together anymore, him and his family still look after my daughter as she is their own. She loves him and he loves her.”
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Smith really nailed it when she said, “We don’t use the term step-dad, he is her father” because in my home — just as in millions of other homes across the nation — there are no step parents here.
There are just moms, dads, and the children they choose to parent.