Dale knew that soon they would have to tell Joy about Alex. He would still love Joy as much as he always did. She was just as much his daughter as Cara and Sharlee were in his heart. However, he didn’t want her to doubt his feelings for her after she learned about her paternity.
It was time for him and Joy to have their monthly father and daughter one on one outing. He and Alissa still made it a regular practice to give each of their children time alone with them. It kept them close and kept the lines of communication open between them.
Usually they let their children select the activity, but Dale wanted to make this a special memory for himself and for Joy. He asked Cara for some ideas and Cara offered to help him plan it. She took care of making most of the arrangements.
“Yes, Sweetie. After we get you dressed.”
“Daddy wouldn’t tell me where we’re going.”
When they got upstairs to her room, Alissa told her to take a shower, and then Cara washed and styled her hair. Joy’s eyes widened when her mother brought out a new dress for her to wear. She quickly put it on.
“Wow Mommy! I really like it.”
“May I escort you to your carriage, Princess?”
Alissa had tears in her eyes, and Cara looked on smiling.
“I love you too, Daddy.”
Joy watched the dancers perform exquisite ballet moves.
“Thank you, Sweetie!”
Joy thanked her, and then she and Dale left the dressing room. Their outing wasn’t over yet. Next they went to a park.
Dale and Joy went into the gazebo. It was set up for a special dinner where they were served each course. There were fairy lights and flowers all around, and it was perfect for a little girl’s special fantasy. They talked and laughed together throughout the dinner.
Then after dinner she and Dale danced around the gazebo.
Alissa had done as much preparation as she could to make it easier for Joy to accept Alex into her life. Sammi had put her in touch with a child therapist who specialized in caring for the children in blended families. She’d reassured Alissa that a child as loved and well-adjusted as Joy should suffer no long term effects from finding out about Alex. Especially if they told her that Alex had returned to help her when she was seriously ill.
However, she did caution them not to pressure Joy into a close relationship with Alex. He was still a comparative stranger to her. With time, they might become good friends, but Joy might never see him as a father to her. In her heart and mind Dale is her father, and trying to change that feeling could harm her.
Alissa had also consulted an attorney. She’d learned that legally, Alex is still not Joy’s father. Dale is her father and legal guardian. However, she felt that Joy did deserve to know the truth about her parentage, and it was time to tell her now that Alex was back in their lives.
“Before you were born, I used to talk to you inside your Mom’s belly, and I loved feeling you move around against my hand. Your brother, your sisters and I couldn’t wait until the time when you decided to join us. We loved you before you were born and even more so now. I’m so proud and happy to be your Daddy, Joy.”
“Yes, I remember.”
“We always intended to tell you, but now that he’s back, Alex wants the chance to get to know you better.”
Joy was fighting tears. Alissa and Dale could feel Joy’s pain and disappointment, but they knew that the time had come for her to know the truth. They had been warned that they needed to give her time and space to adjust to the knowledge. They needed to make sure that she knew that she could pour out her heart to them and that she understood that nothing had to change in her relationship with Dale.
“The job that Alex was doing helped to keep us all safe. Otherwise, he would not have left the country when he knew that your Mom was pregnant with you. However, when you became ill, he returned to the country because he was a match for your marrow. Now he’s back for good and he wants to be a part of your life.”
Joy jumped up and ran out of the room! She was crying.
“I promise it will be okay, Joy.”
“Yes. Mom told me. How about we have a sleep over at my house tonight. It’ll just be the two of us. Noah and Skylar are staying with Darion and Renee. Mom already packed a suitcase for you just in case you want to do it.”
Sharlee got Joy’s suitcase and they went to her home. They sat on the bed in Sharlee’s bedroom and talked.
“Yes. I don’t like him.”
That surprised Sharlee. Joy hadn’t spent much time with Alex.
“Why don’t you like him, Honey?”
“I don’t like how he looks at Mommy and Daddy.”
“Mommy told you a long time ago about the time that Daddy was missing and that she was married to Alex.”
“Yes, she told me.”
“Well, Alex may still love Mommy like he did back then even though he knows that he and Mommy will never be married again. After all, our Mom is the most lovable Mom in the world isn’t she?”
“No one can force you to like him. Just because genetically he is your father, it doesn’t mean that you have to like him or even love him. Daddy is still your father, your Dad and that hasn’t changed. However, if you do find it in your heart to love Alex too, that is okay. Daddy and Mommy won’t be hurt by that.”
Joy was thinking about what Sharlee was saying. Sharlee continued speaking.
“You know that Bronson is my bio-father, and I do love him. However, I don’t see him as my Dad either.”
“Of course it can. It will take time for you to get to know him better and then maybe you can become friends. There isn’t any rush. One of us will go with you to visit him until you say that you’re comfortable enough to visit him alone. If it makes you feel any better, even during the worst times, I always knew that Alex loved me, Cara and Shawn. Shawn, Cara and I loved him too. I always knew that we could count on him if we ever needed him. I was very sad when we thought that he had died.”
“I’m sure, but why don’t you talk with him about it yourself?”
“Okay. Can I call him now?”
Sharlee handed her a phone. Joy spoke with Dale and he reassured her that he would not be hurt at all if she came to love Alex too. He told her that one of the things he loved most about her was her big heart, and he wanted her to be surrounded by people who love her. Alex would just be another person in her family who loves her.
By the end of their conversation, Joy was smiling. She and Sharlee talked for hours that night and Sharlee helped her to see that having Alex as a part of her life wasn’t a bad thing after all. However, Joy was happy that she could set the pace and wouldn’t be pressured to get close to Alex if she wasn’t ready to do so.