A Father and Daughter Meet for the First Time

Tom Chaney was the type of cop who was married to his job. Throughout his greater than twenty years in legislation enforcement, he’d seize shifts on holidays, fill in for different officers to work Christmas, or New Yr’s Eve, or Thanksgiving. 

“I used to be single and didn’t have any children, so I figured I would as nicely,” Tom mentioned. “Holidays have been by no means actually a giant deal for me.”

Earlier this yr, due partially to 23andMe and a name from a girl he’d by no means heard of earlier than, Tom’s perceptions about children, holidays, and Father’s Day particularly shifted, dramatically. 

The decision got here from Stephanie McKenna, a 34-year-old operations assistant on the Museum of American Artwork in Arkansas. She shocked him with some information. Stephanie thought she could be his daughter.

As soon as they decided this wasn’t only a wild guess however an precise DNA match, the very first thing Tom mentioned to Stephanie was:

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”


A long time of Looking out

For Stephanie, it was an excellent signal. She’d feared rejection.

When at 16, she’d reached out to her organic mom, it had been a harrowing expertise. Her beginning mother didn’t reject her; she merely wasn’t curious about establishing a relationship. However that disappointment and damage didn’t forestall Stephanie from on the lookout for her beginning father.

Stephanie was an adoptee with loving and supportive dad and mom, however she nonetheless wished to know extra about her origins. It took receiving 23andMe as a Christmas present — that Stephanie acquired from her mother and pop — to attach her to Tom, or extra exactly to Tom’s dad, Tom Sr. Each Stephanie and Tom Sr. had opted into DNA Kin. After making that connection, she then shortly related to Tom himself.

“It was a gathering 34 years within the making,” she mentioned.


Tom Chaney early in his profession as a police officer.


First, by a collection of telephone calls after which video calls over Zoom and texts, the 2 acquired to know one another.

Tom didn’t know he’d had a baby. He and Stephanie’s beginning mother dated for just a few weeks whereas they each have been stationed in Alaska. Tom was within the Marines, and Stephanie’s beginning mother was within the Navy. The connection was temporary, after which Tom shipped off to a different billet in Hawaii. On the identical time, Stephanie’s beginning mother wound up on a base in Virginia. Tom by no means even knew she’d been the pregnant. 


A First Assembly

Discovering out he now had a daughter pushed Tom to be taught extra about Stephanie and do his greatest to ascertain a relationship. After all of the calls, texts, and Zoom chats, Stephanie  got here to Arizona in early June to go to him. The primary time Tom greeted her on the airport he was sporting his Marine Corps t-shirt and holding an indication that learn:  

“Stephanie, right here is your father.”



A flood of emotion, tears, and laughter got here out of them as they embraced for the primary time. 

When he and his spouse, Krissy, introduced Stephanie house, there was an indication that learn: 

“It’s a lady.” 


Stephanie visiting Tom at his house in Arizona.

Attending to Know Every Different

What adopted was a go to to get to know one another. Tom launched Stephanie to his household and mates. The 2 shared outdated photographs of themselves. They did every thing they might to go from being strangers to being a daughter and a father. 

“It’s uncanny what number of issues we share in frequent,” Stephanie mentioned.

From mannerisms to personalities to even the sorts of issues they every discover humorous. 

“Even the best way we discuss, there’s an identical cadence and comparable facial expressions,” she mentioned. 

Assembly him helped clarify a few of her personal traits. Like her, Tom was an extrovert, somebody who appeared to thrive with many individuals round him. And there have been little issues that have been comparable too, like Tom’s involvement with a motorbike membership for retired cops. Stephanie is concerned in a horse using membership on the facet.  

Mockingly maybe, is that the 2 additionally shared one thing else in frequent. Neither Tom nor Stephanie wished to have children. Stephanie mentioned it’s simply not one thing she’s centered on proper now.

A Greater Household

For Tom, it was his deal with his work. One thing he’d picked up from his father. Like Tom, his dad had been a Marine first, after which a profession police officer, and Tom adopted in his dad’s footsteps in all methods however one. The one exception was that he by no means wished a household.

“I didn’t wish to put a child by that,” he mentioned.

That’s why he by no means had children. He was positive with the choice, or not less than he thought he was. 

However in sharing the time with Stephanie over just a few days in early June and taking a look at outdated photographs of when she was somewhat lady, Tom felt a pang of remorse. It’s arduous for him to even discuss with out getting emotional about every thing that he missed out on. On the eve of her go to, he couldn’t sleep. After they checked out outdated photographs of her rising up, he felt that tug of emotion much more.

“It’s all these issues that I missed, that I wasn’t there for and couldn’t share along with her,” he mentioned. “That hurts inside, however it’s previously, and now I wish to profit from it.”

So does Stephanie. He’s coming to go to her and her household in just a few months.

“They (her dad and mom) are so superior. They wish to share this with me and see it extra like bringing another person into the household,” she mentioned.

Father’s Day will tackle a brand new that means this yr, however extra importantly, it’s a part of this new chapter in Tom’s life.

“I’ve acquired 34 years to atone for,” he mentioned.

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