In an ironic twist on the nature of parenting, truth, and spirituality, “Who’s Your Daddy, Baby?” was inspired by my four-year search for my biological father. It began when I underwent genetic testing in preparation for in vitro fertilization. But the new life I was wishing for didn’t turn out to be the one I ended up seeking. I was astonished to be told the dad I have always known could not possibly have been my biological father. That mid-life shocker sent me into a surreal search for the truth about my paternity, my parents, and myself.
But the real story was just too gosh darn long after four years of chasing what, in many cases, turned out to be bad leads. With my mother having died in the 1990s and taking many of the answers to my questions with her, the situation was rife with miscalculations. In this telling I have avoided using names of individuals and various places involved in my search to establish some separation between myself and my novel to protect the privacy of paternal contenders, their families, and my own family. Any similarities to real people or places at this point are not intended, and are not to be inferred – should be considered merely a matter of coincidence and perception. The fictionalization provided the freedom to offer amalgamations of characters and condensation of plots to keep the story moving.
Writing from my own experience, while liberally exercising poetic license, helped make for more engaging intrigue with the novel – and a surprising conclusion propelled by Facebook connections. Initially, the protagonist Lori McGuire Pomay’s only clues to a prospective unknown biological father’s identity are memories of her late mother discussing pre-marital dating in the mountains of southwestern Virginia, and faded old letters from several paternal contenders, written around the time of her conception in the apparently swinging spring of 1958. The hunt eventually involves possibly ten paternal prospects; their families and friends; the membership of two churches; the high-rolling gambler ex-husband of a famous Hollywood actress; two families of car dealers; several free-spirited road trips around Virginia; and numerous humorous telephone calls and e-mails.
It all boils down to timing and opportunity. Lori learns more than she ever wanted to know about the vagaries of female fertility, the fallibility of half-siblingship DNA testing, problems with blood type testing/mutations, the impact of several genetic mutations – and her late mother’s courtships. Readers learn more than they might have known about Appalachian heritage, northern European ethnicity, inbreeding, sex and Rock n’ Roll in the 1950s, the bonds of motherhood, and the nature of paternity. Throw in the onset of a puzzling hereditary vertigo condition set off by hormone injections, plus a trip to the hospital for chest pains, and “Who’s Your Daddy, Baby?” will leave your head spinning.
“Who’s Your Daddy, Baby?” will be particularly appealing to baby-boomers with a sense of humor, Southerners, and anyone interested in a reflection on our times and how our world has evolved over the past few decades, especially with the onset of the Internet and increasing influence of social media. Cultural contrasts within it should resonate with people living in rural, suburban, and metropolitan areas. Doctors and other medical professionals have expressed fascination with this story and have encouraged me to have it published. Specialists at Johns Hopkins have told me they consider it an increasingly timely tale with the availability of new fertility treatments, which is causing a myriad of medical problems among women in their thirties and forties. My experience also can shed light on the dangers of widespread unrealistic confidence in DNA testing, so much a staple of today’s television crime shows.
It’s a magical mystery tour and “Who Done It” classic maybe only a mother could create, and as Paul McCartney might say, the answer to which maybe only your mother should know. Then again, there’s the possibility medical testing mistakes might be fueling this comedy of errors, but, whatever the answer, Lori’s world, and my own, were forever changed by the journey.
So, let us begin, with a moment in time harkening back to the quintessential pilgrimage in search of paternity, peace, and love.