In the winter of 2015 after finding and reading her baby book, Hope asked “So my father grew up in California?” I told her yes but, we would talk about it another time. I didn’t learn about or meet my father until I was 12. I remembered the rejection I felt. I also remember how I felt when I learned at 18 that I had an older brother I knew nothing about. She had an older brother she knew nothing about too. I was sad, I was scared and I questioned how I could explain that Mitchell chose not to be a dad and that it was not her fault.
I contacted Hope’s brother’s mom via social media. I asked if her son had asked any questions about Mitchell and how she handled them. She told me that her son had not asked any questions about Mitchell and doesn’t even know he exists. She said she plans to keep it that way.
Hope’s youngest brother Eric was born in March 2015.
One day I went to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions. I told the pharmacist I needed to pick up for Kevin Boland and Hope Smith. From the back seat, Hope said angrily “My last name is NOT Smith!” I explained as I had in the past that we have to use Smith at the pharmacy and doctors’ appointments. She told me she hated it. She said all her family is Boland except her and it makes her Feel left out and not a part of the family.
I waited for a day she was a school and called an attorney. The lawyer told me that default judgments were not allowed in Oklahoma for minor name changes. Mitchell would have to agree & sign the papers.
Two weeks after Hope started counseling, Kevin and I took her to a theater production and to a restaurant she chose. Her brothers stayed with their grandparents. I brought Hope’s baby book and a photo album. While at the table I handed her baby book to her. She read Mitchell’s information; his birthday, full name, and where he grew up. I asked if she knew anyone named Mitchell. She said “I don’t know anyone named Mitchell.” I pulled three photos from the photo album and laid them on the table in front of her. One was a photo of him holding her, another was a photo of he and I, and the third was a photo of the three of us. I explained I was married to Mitchell before she was born. I told her he is her biological father. I told her he chose not to be a dad and left when she was a tiny baby like Eric. She asked why he didn’t want to be a dad. I told her he was the only one who can answer that question and that I would try to get a phone number for him if she wanted to talk to him. She said she wasn’t ready to talk to him. I told her I would try to have a phone number when and if she became ready. Kevin said “You are my daughter no matter what your last name is! I love you and I wanted to be a dad and I’m not leaving you ever!” Hope told him she loved him too. She looked across the table and said “You should’ve met daddy before you met Mitchell.” I told her that sometimes I wished I did too. I explained if I had her with anyone instead of Mitchell she would be completely different. She wouldn’t look, talk, act or like the same things. I told her there is a whole awful lot of people that love her and would never want her to be any different than who she is. I told her that we would have to have Mitchell’s permission to change her last name and she could ask him if she ever chose to talk to him. She asked if I would ask him. I told her it would be better if she did because he wasn’t kind to me last time I talked to him. She asked what he called me. Kevin told her they were bad words that didn’t need to be repeated. She turned the page of her baby book. She read through the names written on her family tree. Then she said “I have another brother?” I told her she did and laid two photos of him, his mother and older sister in front of her. I pointed out her brother and said “This is (omitted name).” she told us she wanted to meet him. I explained that Mitchell left him as a baby too. I told her he lives in Oklahoma also, but his mom doesn’t want him to know about Mitchell yet. I told her when she turned 16, he would be 18 and she could try to find him and get to know him then.
I first contacted Mitchell’s nephew try to get contact information for him. He told me his mother said Mitchell didn’t have a phone and she didn’t know his address. Next I called child support services. The lady I talked to was rude. She told me she couldn’t give me any information. I asked if she could make my information available to him. She told me absolutely not. I did web search after web search for Mitchell Smith. I finally found child support modification papers from a year earlier, his address was on them. I googled the address, the result was an adult DVD and toy company. I called the phone number listed. No one answered. I left a message.
Mitchell called me the next day. I quickly told him Hope knew about him and that I was saving his number when and if she wanted to call. I texted him immediately after and asked if he texted and could receive photos. He said he could. I sent him a couple recent photos of her. He said she was so beautiful. Later he started sending hateful text messages. He accused me of taking her away from him. I kept my composure. I told him that wasn’t true and I never wanted him out of her life. I always believed we could have co-parented her effectively even being divorced if he wanted to be in her life. I told him I’d had the same permanent address for over 20 years. The same address he used for our divorce. I reminded him that Hope had not received a single card, letter, photo, or gift from him in over 8 years. He asked if I had any photos of him with Hope. I texted every photo I had of him and his family members with her, even the ones I was in. He went on and on about how beautiful she was.
A few days later I was taking Hope to counseling. She asked what kind of grocery stores Mitchell and I went to when he was around. Then she said “Mom, I wish you move and Mitchell would be nice to each other.” I knew right then and there what I had to do. He and I needed to have a phone conversation. It was time to take responsibility for each of our parts of our mass. We needed to genuinely make peace so we could get along for Hope. I told him that we needed to talk; he made excuses for a week.
Kevin and I talked. I told him what Hope had said in the car and that I needed to talk to Mitchell where she couldn’t hear. We scheduled for Kevin to take Hope to the zoo. Mitchell and I ended up on the phone for several hours that day. I began the conversation telling him that Hope wanted us to be nice to one another. We all wanted what is best for Hope. I explained to him that what is important to Hope should be important to us too. He said he agreed. His voice began to crack as he told me he loved me, and that he had never fallen out of love with me. Let’s face it, you can’t just have a child with someone and not care about them. He helped me make my mother’s death wish a reality and he cared for her to last month of her life. I told him I loved him too. I continued. I told him I wanted to get to know Johnnie and be her friend. He interrupted saying they had been split up and hadn’t lived together in nearly a year. I said fine, I want to know and be friends with anyone that you get serious with in the future. He asked if he could have our family back. I told him I am married and I’m not going anywhere. I spent a lot of that conversation crying, so did he. For the first time in eight years he was allowing me to share specific quotes and situations that hurt me. He was acknowledging and apologizing for each situation. He was gentle, patient, and sensitive with me. He denied any infidelity within our marriage. I don’t know if he was being honest about that. He thought I cheated on him when I went to the class for my job. He asked if I would allow a DNA test. I said “I was always faithful to you! I have been faithful to every man I’ve ever been with. If you want a DNA test, let’s go! When she comes back yours you will pay for it, if she comes back not yours I will pay for it. Better get your money together.” He dropped it and said he believes that she is his. He told me he was wrong, he quit on her once and never will again. He went on to say if something ever happened to me, he would have her. He explained that he wasn’t trying to be hateful; he just wanted me to know she would be taken care of and he would take responsibility in the event that something happened to me. I don’t plan to die anytime soon but, no one knows the day before they die. The thought of Hope being taken away from everything and everyone she has ever known, shredded my heart. I told Mitchell that. He told me he wouldn’t want to take her away from everything she’s ever known, but wouldn’t have a choice of he was established in California. He explained he was currently renting a room, making very little money and barely making ends meet. I asked why he didn’t come back to Oklahoma where his sister and kids were. He said he would love to; it was his home for over 20 years. While he and I were on the phone Johnnie sent me a long text message telling me “Fuck you and the ground you walk on.” I told him about the text and that I wasn’t going to respond to her. I didn’t understand why she was being so ugly to me; I had never done anything to her. Mitchell told me she still helped with his vehicle payment and laundry. He said it would cause all kinds of problems if I responded and he couldn’t make it without her help. He said she even didn’t care when he lived in his vehicle for week. She sounded like a real bitch. He told me she was only mad because she felt threatened by me. I was 23 years younger than her, I had him first, I had a child with him, and he told her the entire eight years they were together that he still loved me. Those were the reasons he gave as to why she didn’t like me. He reminisced a lot during our conversation. He reminded me of the details of our wedding and other good memories we shared. It made me feel good knowing we were getting along, talking like adults, and laughing. The man I was talking to was the man I met at the casino almost 11 years ago, the same man that first stole my heart. I was happy to have my friend back. He became inappropriate near the end of our phone conversation. He asked me to send naked photos of myself to his phone. I told him no. He then said he was going to text naked photos of himself to me. I told him I didn’t want naked photos of him and not to send them to me. I told him I would send a photo of myself fully clothed since he hadn’t seen me in eight years. I told him goodbye and we hung up. I texted Mitchell a recent photo of Beth and I. I went over to Beth’s house to tell her about the conversation and visit with her. While I was there Mitchell called my phone. I answered with him on speakerphone. He went on and on about how beautiful I am and how special I am. I thanked him. He then stated his dying wish was to have another child and that it had to be with me. He wanted Hope to have a sibling with the same two parents like my sons have. I told him that was not happening ever! I asked Mitchell to tell his sister Sharon that I loved and missed her. He told me she hated me.
Later I told hope that I talked to him and we were kind to each other and we were friends again. She said she wanted to call him. I allowed her. He was kind to her and only said positive things about Kevin and I.
I thought about Johnnie a lot. After all the things Mitchell said to me, I tried to put myself in her shoes. I imagined how hurt I would feel if my husband said those things to another woman. I couldn’t be with a man who felt so passionately about another woman. I felt bad for Johnnie.
Kevin and I talked a lot. We agreed that we only wanted what is best for Hope overall. Hope was telling us she wanted to see Mitchell. Mitchell was telling us he wanted to know and be a part of Hope’s life. He told me he was getting older and was afraid he may die one day without ever getting to hug her. Kevin, Mitchell, and I talked. As much as my family would oppose it, we decided he was coming back to Oklahoma. Without Mitchell, Hope would not exist. My family hates him terribly because of the way he done Hope and I. On one hand I am grateful they love us so much, on the other hand Kevin and I felt that everyone deserves a second chance, even Mitchell. He’s the only other person in this world Hope is half of. Having been rejected and left by my own father, I believed if Mitchell and Hope wanted to know each other they should be allowed. Kevin and I decided not to tell Hope in case things changed. We didn’t think to ask Mitchell not to tell her. Sure enough Mitchell told hope during the next phone call. Hope was excited!
A few days later Mitchell texted and asked me to call without Hope around. I called him. He told me that when he told Johnnie he was going back to Oklahoma that she said she wanted to work their marriage out. His choices were to stay where he was already established, with a job he loved and make his marriage work or be near his children he hadn’t seen in 8 and 10 years. He was choosing to stay. I told him he could tell Hope himself, and that she wouldn’t understand. I also told him I would never choose a man over my children. He told Hope. She was sad and disappointed. I was angry at Mitchell and Johnnie. For the first time in Hope’s life I couldn’t protect her from the hurt he caused her. I strongly disliked Johnnie. The timing seemed very convenient of her ultimatum. She had no regard for my child. I told Mitchell, Beth, and Kevin that Johnnie had an ass whooping coming the first time I saw her without Hope around. I didn’t care if she and Mitchell work together or not. I was willing to go to jail. You do not mess with my child’s feelings. That woman had no idea the mama bear she had awakened. You do not touch my cub that I have poured out blood, sweat and tears for, her entire life. Not an intelligent idea. Mitchell and Hope continued with phone calls. Mitchell told Hope that he and Johnnie would come visit her soon. Hope asked me when soon was. I told her that Mitchell was the only one who could answer that question. She asked if she could texted him. I texted him and said that hope asked to text him and I am giving her the phone. She texted him asking when soon is. He said he did have a timeframe for that. She said “is it going to be weeks, days, months or years!” he didn’t ask Hope to give the phone to me before he sent the next text. The text was directed towards me. Hope read it out loud. He stated she was too young to have these types of adult conversations, and it was my responsibility to explain his situation to her. I texted him back. I told him Hope and her feelings were my priority and that he could explain his situation to her himself. Phone calls continued between Mitchell and Hope. Mitchell’s wife sent me an e-mail a week later. She accused me of being inappropriate with Mitchell through text messages dripping with lust. She said she was concerned for my children and Kevin. She and Mitchell split because he threatened to kill her and her family. She also said my actions were hurtful to her. All of the references she made to my character and things I had done couldn’t be further from the truth. I texted her at the same number she texted me from weeks earlier. I told her that just as there are two sides to her story with Mitchell, there are two sides to mine and I believe it was time for us to have a phone conversation. She called me and we talked for hours. She wasn’t the monster I believe she was. I wasn’t the monster she believed I was. Mitchell had lied to her their entire relationship and marriage. She was just another victim of his hurtful words and games. She and I can relate to each other in a way no one else can. I love her. She has become one of my closest friends. She never wanted to work the marriage out with Mitchell. He simply would not leave her alone. I couldn’t pick up better stepmom for Hope if I tried. Mitchell did an amazing job picking her. She is always thought about and cared for Hope and her brother. Mitchell spent a lot of energy making myself and his son’s mom out to be terrible women. Johnnie and I will be friends for life. Mitchell says Johnnie and I are drama. He doesn’t want us talking. Hope has asked him if he would allow a last name change. He told her no. He said her name would change when she got married. She was very upset that he would not allow a name change. She began acting out and being violent with her brothers. She told me one day she wanted to call and tell Mitchell how she felt. She tried to call his phone number four or five times. The call wouldn’t go through. I texted him, telling can she had called four or five times in the call wouldn’t go through. I asked him to call her at his convenience. He called within 3 minutes. Hope told him she felt mad and sad. He asked to speak to me. Well I had him on speakerphone, she told me I needed to stop putting things in her head and the reason she couldn’t call was because he had my number blocked. Hope heard everything he said to me. She felt hurt that he didn’t believe her feelings and she was upset because he told her she could call anytime and he had the number blocked. He and Hope talk, and I pray that she will someday see the beautiful person that lives deep inside of Mitchell. He hides that person so well. Only time will tell.