I know it wasn't easy, helping raise a kid who wasn't yours. I know that you probably spent hours pondering over how to approach different situations, how to show me that you loved me, how to be my father. And I guess that's the reality behind it. You aren't my father, but you are my dad.

Fathers are determined by genes and biology. Dads, however, are the ones who pick you up off the pavement after you've fallen off your bike. They're the ones who cooked you dinner, who helped you with your long division homework. They're the ones who loved you, regardless if you shared their genes or not.

So I want to say this. Thank you for being the one to pick me up. Thank you for the long drives and the endless amount of support. Thank you for signing my forms for school and chaperoning all those field trips. Most importantly, thank you for treating me like I was yours.

I honestly don't know how you did it. I know I wasn't an easy kid to raise. I was shy and awkward, and I read too much, which lead to lots of weird obsessions. Which leads me to this: thank you for allowing me to be me. You never once tried to direct my growth and development, and while that lead to some questionable phases (do we remember the Twilight phase? How about the Jonas Brothers? Oh, and let's not forget Harry Potter, which may or may not be still ongoing...), you gave me the freedom to grow into who I was meant to be. You have given me confidence. You have given me my sense of self. And you have always loved that self, regardless of whatever phase I was in.

You are the reason I am who I am, and I hope you know how thankful I am for you. You didn't have to take on the role of my father. I know that. But you did. And you did it without compliant. So thank you. Thank you for showing me the love of a dad. I love you.

And for the record, if I had to pick anyone to be my dad, to teach me all those lessons over again or to drive me to all those practices? I'd chose you.