Dear Non-Biological Dad,
It takes a strong little kid to accept that their father doesn't want to be a part of their life. It also takes a strong man to step up and provide for that little kid. It takes a lot of time, effort and patience to make that little kid feel loved after someone walks out on them. You didn't have to love me, you didn't have to give me everything I ever needed, but you chose to. You chose to be there when someone else didn't, and for that, you deserve all of the thanks I have.
I thought it would be Mommy and me forever. We were best buddies, the dream team, two peas in a pod; then all of a sudden, Mom was going on dates and leaving me behind. I wasn't too happy about that. At first, you were just that guy that made Mom smile again. I was supposed to be Mom's smile. I remember the first day I met you; I was terrified. You were this big scary guy in a leather jacket who was trying to get me to talk to you. Thinking back, that was also probably a scary moment for you. I was Mommy's little girl and you had to impress me, too. It worked, a little bit. It's funny though, I had no idea then that you would one day become one of the most important people in my life.
I remember your and Mom's wedding day, you chose to dance with Mom and me and made me feel a family for the first time. I remember you picked me up and sang to me and told me that you loved me for the first time. I cried like a baby, and you did too.
If I said that I accepted you then, I'd be a liar. It took me a long time to figure out what you were trying to do. You'd watch me when Mom wasn't around. You'd take me out to dinners, baseball games, concerts and amusement parks. You would cook my favorite meals for me and get mad when I couldn't finish them, and you had to. You would watch the same TV shows with me over and over. You would come to all of my softball and basketball games, school events and even escorted me to my first dance. You were my dad from day one, and I never realized it.
As I got older, I started resenting you and saying things I didn't think I would regret. I regret them now. I thought you were mean. You wouldn't let me go out with friends who you didn't know. You asked me a thousand questions before I left the house when I actually went out, and then a thousand more when I got home. You wouldn't let me date the boys I liked. You always told me I had an attitude and didn't listen. You and Mom would fight about me being rebellious and she would always "take my side" even though you were usually right. You were just being exactly what I needed.
I'm not that much older now, but I wish I would have appreciated you more. I wish that I would have seen the amount of effort you put in to treating me like I was your "real" daughter. We like to joke that I turned out more like you than anyone else. I think that's true. You deserve more thanks than I could ever repay you.
Thank you for being the "bad guy" all of the time. Thank you for being a goof and embarrassing me in front of my friends. Thank you for protecting me from those teenage boys. Thank you for being my cheerleader, chauffeur and body guard. Thank you for loving my mom and making her happy. Thank you for giving me a family. Thank you for giving me everything that someone else chose not to.
Thank you for choosing me.