Secret Regrets: Kelsey, Bryan

Finding Her Father

"‘I regret being your daughter. I regret that you are my biological dad. You are rude, hurtful, confusing and selfish,'" Kelsey says, reading from her post on SecretRegrets.com. She explains, "I secretly regret ever contacting my biological father. He has hurt me in more ways than anybody ever has. Brian left when I was about 6 months old. Two years ago, when I was 17, I decided to contact Brian. My mom agreed. We looked on the Internet, found his address. I sent him a letter, and I summed up the last 17 years of my life. He wrote back in a quick amount of time, and he agreed that we should get to know each other, but it turns out, that wasn't the best idea. When I first contacted Brian, it was a positive relationship, and then it just started going downhill. He doesn't send me birthday cards. He forgets my birthday, so he doesn't call me. When it came to my high school graduation, he didn't send me a graduation card, he didn't text me or call me and say, ‘Congratulations,' and that was a huge letdown. He doesn't follow through with anything that he says with me. He said he would get a plane ticket for me to come and see him, and I never received a plane ticket. It's just another letdown. In one email he wrote to me, ‘Well, there's a possibility that you're not my daughter.' That really, really hurt. I don't know why he would say that. It just makes me feel, like, worthless to him. I'm just really disappointed that he can't be a man and act like a dad."

"Wow. That's a lot to say," Dr. Phil tells her.

"He has never been there for me. He has never tried to communicate with me. He just doesn't care," Kelsey says.

"Are you angry?"

"I'm so angry, but I'm more hurt, with all the things that he's said." Kelsey says it's especially hurtful that he thinks she may not be his daughter. "He just doesn't want anything to do with me."

"Why would that be the case? Have you turned out to be a bad person?"

[AD]"No," she says. "I just think he regrets all the mistakes he made in the past, by leaving my mom and I, and he's not ready to accept the responsibility." Kelsey says she just wanted to get to know her father. She didn't ask him for anything other than a chance to get acquainted. She says that being let down by her father has made her not want to trust anybody.

"Do you want a relationship with him?"

"That's tough. At the beginning, I did, but now, I feel like I've done everything I can and this is my last straw," she says. "I just want to figure out our communication problems between each other. I know I probably have some part in this. I'm not blaming it all on him. I just want him to be there for me."

Dr. Phil wants Kelsey to hear Bryan's side of the story:

"I lost complete contact with Kelsey at the age of 9 months old. She wants to get to know her biological father, as she says. She wants to have some type of relationship. It's pretty straight forward that she wants something, but I can never get it out of her," Bryan says. "She started getting upset because I wasn't recognizing her birthday, I wasn't recognizing that she graduated, I didn't send her a Christmas card. I don't have the dates embedded in my mind for 18 years. As significant as they may be to her, they're insignificant dates for me. Kelsey has never told me what she wants from me. Her expectations have never been said to me. I would hope she would be pretty straight forward to me in telling me what I should expect to give her, so that I can try to make that happen for her " if it's something that I can give."

Asked for her reaction, Kelsey says, "I've told him that I want a relationship, but I don't think he's ever fully heard me say that."

"Did you listen to everything he said?"

[AD]"It bothered me that he said those dates aren't important, like my birthday is not important."

Dr. Phil asks if she's ready to meet her father.

"Yeah, I think so," she says.

Father and daughter meet for the first time.

 

Bryan says Kelsey was on his mind, but he was hesitant because of his past with her mother. He says he signed papers so Kelsey could be adopted and have the same name as her mother. He requested to see her then, when she was around 4, but was refused.

"You have said, and I wrote it down in a quote, ‘I truly believe that Kelsey isn't mine,'" Dr. Phil says.

Bryan nods but says, "The rest of that statement is 'It doesn't matter.'"

"Why doesn't it matter?"

"I've already chosen what I'm planning on giving to Kelsey, what I feel I should give to her."

"Which is?"

"What she's asking for. It doesn't matter if she's my child or not. It's irrelevant."

"But it still hurts that you said that," Kelsey tells him.

"Well, there's a possibility that you're not," Brian says matter-of-factly.

Kelsey and Bryan agreed to a DNA test to put it to rest once and for all.

"You said that your only reservation about doing this is that A, you don't think you're her father, and B, what impact will it have on her when she finds that out? You don't want her to be hurt by finding out that you're not the father," Dr. Phil says.

"Right," Bryan says.

"I'm worried, if you are concerned about her, I do this for a living, and I've got to tell you, you seem very cold and detached from her," Dr. Phil observes. "Is that the way you feel?"

"No, I think that's probably the way I'm coming across. That's not the way I feel at all," he says.

[AD]Dr. Phil asks him if it matters to him that something like remembering Kelsey's birthday matters to her. He says it does, he just has to get used to recognizing it.

Dr. Phil reads the DNA results: "It says that the probably that he is your biological father is beyond 99.99 percent. This is your biological father," he tells Kelsey.

"I'm fine with it," Bryan says.

"I'm glad it's positive," Kelsey says. She tells her father, "This sounds so selfish but I just wanted to do it to rub it in your face because you hurt me so bad."

Dr. Phil reiterates that there doesn't seem to be a lot of emotion in Bryan's reaction. "There's just a huge disconnect here," he says. "How are you feeling inside?"

"What is a proper display? Everybody has a way of reacting to things," Bryan says. He admits that the fact that Kelsey looks like her mother may be influencing his reaction to her. He also admits there is some reluctance merging his family life with Kelsey's.

Dr. Phil turns to Bryan's wife, Leaha, who is sitting in the audience. "Do you have a reaction to the fact that she is his biological daughter?"

She smiles and speaks to Kelsey. "He's told me about you from the time that we met. He told me that one day, you would probably come around. He didn't want to put you in that uncomfortable predicament because he didn't know what your mom had told you. Our daughters know about you. They're excited. I'm excited. I'm glad to finally meet you. You're part of our family already. You were before the DNA test, dear."

"That's nice to hear," Kelsey says with a smile.

"I will tell you this about him: He's really bad about talking how he feels. It's been 10 years of marriage, and he's starting to get over the hump a little bit. So, don't take the closure as personal. He just doesn't know how to do it," Leaha says.

 

How can this family build their relationship?

 

[AD]Bryan says he's willing to get to know his daughter.

"Will you keep us posted?"

"I will keep you posted," Kelsey says with a big smile.