Belfast Telegraph

I never wanted to be a dad, but my adopted daughter showed me parenting can be wonderful

By Carlo Gebler

Frank Lampard has admitted that his wife Christine Bleakley initially found being a stepmother to his two daughters from a previous relationship tougher than she thought it would be.

It will have taken courage on Bleakley's part to admit this, and I don't doubt it is true as well.

It was also, I have to confess, a story that I read with interest because it touches on my personal circumstances, and with relief because, well, it might have been me.

When I met my wife Tyga (to whom I am still married) in 1981 she was newly widowed, and a couple of months pregnant. I had never intended either to marry or have children.

But the gods, who order these matters, it seems, decided to have some sport, certainly at my expense.

They made us fall for one another, I and the mother, and so I ended up (though the story was a complicated one and I'm only giving you the short form here) living with the mother and her new daughter. Unlike Christine Bleakley, this unexpected situation, with its attendant responsibilities for a small baby girl, did not come entangled by a third party, her father, because he was dead.

When my daughter came, there was just her and her mother and me.

In those early days, however, I was very clear in my mind that she had a biological father and she had his surname and that was not to be forgotten.

Oh no, on the contrary, that was to be kept in the foreground and never forgotten.

In my mind, I would be the responsible male adult who would be in loco parentis, but her actual father would always be acknowledged.

I believed this was both psychologically necessary and important.

What I didn't know was that small children, whatever the schemes and ideas and practices of the adults who care for them, will always have - which are independent of what adults imagine is best for them - their own idea of what they want.

And sometimes what the adult imagines and what the child wants are so different it's chastening, for the so-called adult at least, and in this instance what the child wanted, of course, was a father, because she didn't have one.

I didn't understand this, but when her mother found her in front of the mirror saying, ''Dad… Carlo… Dad…'' it all suddenly became clear.

I had to become her father, and though the process took years (first marriage, then adoption, a finagling and fiendish process) it was achieved, and in all honesty I can say it was one of the best things I've ever done.

Parenting was also, unlike in Christine Bleakley's case, never tough going, ever.

For that daughter (like her four siblings who followed her) was always the apple of her father's eye, always.

I suppose I've the gods to thank for that too.

Belfast Telegraph


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