Being a father has been the most challenging and most rewarding task God has ever asked of me. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I have found the relationship between my daughter, Bethany, and me to be such paradox at times, but now that we’re both adults, I can’t express how much I enjoy it. She is a happy, healthy, and amazing woman whom I have great respect for. I am very proud of her!
Having hemophilia, HIV, & HCV have complicated fatherhood to say the least. I was deeply concerned that my wife and our daughter, who is our first and only child, would contract HIV from me at conception. Thankfully neither contracted anything. Granted, my daughter is not only a carrier, but has moderate hemophilia (as do both of her daughters). For many years, I would fear and cry about the future for my daughter, because I was losing Blood Brothers right and left. I would ask, “Would she be forced to grow up without me? Would I ever get to see her graduate from high school or college? Would I ever get to walk her down the aisle? Would I ever get to bounce my grandchildren on my knee?” The fear was intense at times, but God has given me peace. I have been playing with my grandchildren for some time now and just recently had a “bucket list day,” when I walked Bethany down the aisle!
My advice to ALL dads: Spend lots of “quality time” with your child. What I mean is spend time with your child just one on one, just the two of you. If you have multiple kids, that means separate one on one time with each. Continue to date them (AND their mother) all their lives. When my daughter and I had the rough patches in our relationship, it was the connection we made during “dates” that got us through the tough times.
Being a father comes with very serious responsibility. Add hemophilia to the mix and you have another reason to be the best example possible. If you love your child, tell them and then prove it with your actions. Happy Father’s Day!
Carl is a former HFA Chairperson and board member. He currently serves as the President of the Committee of Ten Thousand (COTT.)