What it Feels Like to Not Know Who Your Dad is

Shaelyn Wiederien // As told to Chris Aukes


Photo by Suzy Busta

Photo illustration by Chris Aukes. Shaelyn Wiederien and her mother, Mary Wiederien pose for a picture at ADM’s Senior Night held fall of 2021.

I think the first time I knew my family was different was when I went to the Daddy Daughter Dance in third grade.

I went to the dance with my best friend and her dad because I was raised without a father. My Mother was able to give birth to me because of a sperm donor, and I only know two things about him. He has blond hair and blue eyes… just like me. It never really occurred to me that he actually existed until I found a small description of him in one of my baby books. And now, I can’t even go looking for him because of the mass amounts of men in this world with blond hair and blue eyes.
I grew up learning how to do girly things from my Mom. She taught me everything that a mother should, all while running the house as a single parent of three children. But I still wonder what life would be like if I had a dad. I would have definitely watched all of those cheesy boy movies like Star Wars or Rocky. He definitely would have taught me how to use power tools or drive a manual… I really want to learn how to drive a manual.
Not only is it hard not knowing who my dad is, but my Mom also has to provide for the entire house as the only source of income. I don’t always say it, but I think my life might be harder than other people’s. My Mom is expected to be able to put food on the table for every meal and keep us living comfortably in our house. She chose to make this sacrifice of her time and stress all to bring me into the world, and to adopt my siblings into the house.
It feels so strange, knowing that my dad is out there somewhere. Maybe he still lives in Iowa… maybe he has a really cool job… and maybe I’ve met him before, and neither of us knew it.