My Story of Survival and the Search for My Father: Will the Real Mike Hiatt Please Stand Up?
When babies are born, along with all of the ooo-ing and ahh-ing, usually the second thing parents hear is,"(insert baby name here) has your eyes or your chin or your nose." But what if that child looks like neither one of his/her parents? And what if the life of said child is dependant on just that?
My story begins with the Vietnam war, actually. The casualties of war don't end when the weapons are put down...when peace is declared. They are far reaching, probably beyond mere comprehension. However, I can attest to the tumultuous effects that tend to not only span decades, but generations.
I was raised for fourteen years with questions that I kept to myself. I was told the bare minimum. That my mother left my abusive father before I was born. I was told that it wasn't safe for her and my sister. So my grandfather moved them from Ohio to Michigan and three weeks later she had me. I was told over the years about the broken noses and black eyes she suffered at the hands of a man who was still reeling from his time overseas. He would all too often drown his pain in alcohol and vent his bitterness and anger by hurting my mom in the most abhorrent ways. Today he would be diagnosed with PTSD.
We didn't talk about it much as I was growing up. But, like I said, I had questions. For instance, I saw pictures of my dad. He had blond hair and blue eyes. My mother had blond hair and green eyes. My sister had blond hair and green eyes. Even my brother who was born two years after me had blond hair and blue eyes. It didn't add up. We didn't have the same facial structure or build at all. I grew up thinking I was adopted like a lot of kids do. Then I would tell myself I was crazy. It never occurred to me even once, however, to question the paternity of my father.
Until it did...
I remember it like it was yesterday. My dad had found us and had corresponded with my sister about coming for a visit. I truly believe there are redeeming qualities in everyone. So I wanted with all of my heart to believe that my dad was somehow a better person, that he had gotten help, that I'd finally know where the other half of me came from. I remember being almost sick from nervousness and anticipation.
When he pulled into the driveway with a shiny red sports car dressed to the nines I almost wondered if my mom had exaggerated how awful he had been. He seemed perfectly fine to me. I am naturally shy and we had never met. So when he seemed more excited to see my sister than me I understood. When he brought her a few nice presents and a free t-shirt he picked up from work for me I told myself that they had been bonding over letters and phone calls. He didn't know me at all. If I'm being perfectly honest I didn't care in the least about the gifts. I was meeting my dad. But when he took her on several outings, using the excuse of only having two seats in his car, I was hurt and really confused. When he took my sister and a friend out again leaving me behind I finally broke down. I demanded answers from my mother.
Be careful what you wish for...
It was there, in our living room on a beautiful summer's day that my world and everything I thought I knew was forever and irrevocably changed. Trust for the people I loved was shattered. It was as if I were standing on the ceiling and the rest of the world was upright and going about its business. The Heather I had been only seconds before was gone and would never return. Oh to turn back the clock...
When I finally asked the right questions the flood gates were opened. This is the story of how I came to be...
My mother met the man formally known as my father and married him within three weeks. He had just returned from the war. Like every story of abuse goes he charmed her...right into marriage. They had my sister a short time later. The happiness didn't last. He was not faithful, often meeting girls at the local bar and going home with them. He broke her nose so badly it was laying on the side of her face. She often left and he would say he was sorry and beg her to return. She often did.
In 1971 during one of their separations my mom met a man named Mike Hiatt (or Hyatt). He was an acquaintance of her brother's. He let her and my sister crash at his place. He had young twin boys who's mother had run off and taken... whereabouts unknown. So I'm guessing he was lonely. They bonded and long story short, about six weeks later she learned that she was expecting. Mike didn't take this news well. My mom reasons that he was still hurting from the loss of his boys so badly that he couldn't stand the thought of possibly losing another. So when he suggested abortion, she promptly told him she had been wrong, she wasn't pregnant, and went back to her husband. Well, the best laid plans...
My paternity would turn out to be a matter of life or death for my mother and for me throughout her entire pregnancy. Her husband suspected from the beginning that I wasn't his. He wanted me gone. He beat her repeatedly hoping to end me. At eight months pregnant he threw her out of a moving car. He put a knife to her stomach where she explains that if she had exhaled we would have both died. But when he told her that if I were born with any other color hair but blond and any other color eyes, but blue he would kill me at my birth she took my sister and ran.
Clearly my mother had my best interest and my very safely at heart when she kept the truth from me all of those years. What child wants or needs to know that one father didn't want her and the other wanted her dead? I was never even a little angry about her doing what she thought was right. I mean, I'm alive today to write about it. I was even more than a little relieved. I was always ashamed of the man I thought was my dad.
But even when we have the best of intentions, we cannot discount the repercussions whether intended or not. When my mother told my biological father that she wasn't pregnant she slammed a door that I've never been able to open...not even a crack. When I was told about him fourteen years had passed. The finer details about him didn't stick. All I was ever able to find out was his first and last name (correct spelling unknown), that he was from Muncie, Indiana, that he had twin sons and that other than my red hair we look exactly alike. Not a lot to go on. It has been 29 years filled with unanswered questions and searching. I have lost hours, days, weeks, years searching for my elusive father. I have brothers who I've never met. It is the unknown that eats away at me. Would my father have really not stuck around if she had told him she was keeping me? What are my brothers like? Do I have other siblings? What is my nationality? For goodness sake.
I have been blessed with a wonderful mother, an awesome step father, and truly fabulous grandparents, but part of me will never fully be at peace unless by some miracle the man who doesn't even know I exist and I somehow find each other.
I am sharing my story because I know there are too many others who sadly relate to my plight. I am also sharing because Mike Hiatt (Hyatt) may somehow read this and finally know that I do, in fact, exist. Stranger things have happened after all.
I am asking those who read this to please share. It would mean everything to me. Thank you in advance.
Oh, and Mike, if you do manage to somehow see this...
Surprise...It's a girl;