“Okay, girls. Let’s finish eating this cereal so we can go to the park,” Tina said to her twins, Ilsa and Ellie, who were playing while eating breakfast. They had gotten dirty by spilling some milk on their clothes, and Tina had smiled at them instead of scolding them.
Finally, it seemed that their lives were beginning to normalize.
The last five years had been very difficult after the unexpected death of her husband, Andy, just a few months after they had finalized the adoption of the twins. Suddenly, Tina went from being a housewife to a mother struggling to keep her family together. The pressure had been particularly heavy because of the girls’ young age.
Tina was happy to become a mother, as she was sterile. But Andy’s death forced her to focus on the children, and to forget her husband’s absence.
Some days things were so difficult that she would berate herself, slapping her forehead for failing in her role as mother. Other days, she’d just give them some pies and stay hungry because her meager paycheck ended up in rent and other household expenses.
Eventually, she moved into a two-bedroom apartment, in order to reduce her expenses. Her sister Tamara, who was also struggling financially, helped her babysit until she found a job with a company that had a daycare center for its employees.
Their lives improved in every way, and the twins could now eat to their heart’s content.
As their financial situation stabilized, Tina was more settled and enjoyed telling her twins stories about their father. She knew (or hoped) that her husband would always be there with them in some way.
After breakfast, Tina dressed her daughters warmly for the frigid Minnesota weather. Just as she was tying their shoes, someone knocked on her door.
It was strange, because she lived in a third-floor apartment, and normally people couldn’t get in without ringing the bell. She squinted her eyes to look through the peephole and saw a strange man.
“Girls, why don’t you go to your room for a second? We’ll be out soon.”
Some might call her paranoid, but she was a very protective lioness when it came to her children.
“Yes?” she replied after opening the door.
“Are you Mrs. Feelan?” the man asked. Tina nodded, “My name is Peter…and this is going to sound strange, but…I believe I’m your daughters’ father.”
“Excuse me?” asked Tina in disbelief, her head shaking slightly. “I’m sorry. You must be mistaken. My late husband was their father.”
Peter wet his lips, and he nodded sorrowfully. “Yes, of course. It’s just… I think I’m their biological father.”
Tina didn’t know what to say. The adoption process was confidential as far as she knew, and they had never met the girls’ parents, so why was he here? What did he want? How should she react? Andy would know, she thought. But she was alone in this situation and tried to think quickly.
“Okay, uh, Peter,” she began, pausing to think. “Let’s assume that’s true. I adopted them, so I have no idea what you’re doing here.”
“I had no idea they existed,” Peter revealed. “My girlfriend…we had a fight before I went to live in London for a few years, and we reconnected a little while ago. But during another argument, she let something slip. I… didn’t expect that.”
Tina was frozen in place, listening to his story.
She crossed her arms and thought about the situation. At first, she would need proof. Anyone could come forward and say the same thing. Maybe a DNA test would solve the problem, but what would be next?
“What do you want from me Peter?” she asked honestly, her arms down. “These are my daughters.”
“I was just hoping to get to know them. To be a part of their lives, if possible. I had dreams of being a father, and my ex … what she did … not telling me about them broke my heart,” he said. “But I won’t insist. This will only be done with your consent.”
“Well, this is all so abrupt, and I’m not sure I believe you. Do you have any proof of what you’re saying?”
“No, but we can do a DNA test to confirm,” he replied.
Tina nodded, “Okay, we’ll proceed with that. And then we can talk about what happens next. But these are my children. They don’t belong to you anymore, and I’m sorry for what happened, but I have to protect them first. If you insist, I will not hesitate to call the police,” she warned.
She expected Peter to resist, but instead he smiled. “I would expect no less from their real mother.”
DNA tests confirmed Peter’s story, and gradually Tina introduced them to him because he seemed like an honest and sincere man. Whenever he met the twins, Peter respected Tina’s decisions and boundaries.
Months passed, and Peter’s presence no longer seemed odd.
A few years later, they realized that their feelings for each other had changed, even though Tina was reluctant to start a relationship with him.
They took it slow. Peter asked her to tell him about Andy because he had also been the father of the twins. That’s what finally convinced her to marry him.