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I was fatherless from the day I was born.

Thomas Taylor III head shotIn 1985, I was eighteen years old and needed money for my senior prom. I don't know if it was because I had turned 18 and now I was officially a “man,” but my mother – a Jehovah’s Witness who did not believe in proms – recommended I find my father and ask him for the money.

I was floored! – amazed that she would offer the father I never knew as a solution – but I took her advice and actually found him. I met and talked to him for the first time in my life. He gave me the money for the prom. But more importantly, he gave me back a piece of myself that had been missing for eighteen years.

Many years went by, and, although he never denied me, he never came to find me. He had his own family now in Brooklyn, NY. I was part of his difficult past. To me, however, he was the key to my future. I had been so adrift for so much of my life that I yearned for a connection with him.

In 1994, I was applying for a Corrections Officer position at Rikers Island in New York. I had all of my paperwork completed and was simply handing it all in to complete the process. That’s when my life changed. I was informed that my last name was an alias. Essentially, I was told that I was an impostor of sorts. You see, for 27 years I had been using Searles, the last name of my mother's ex-husband, not the last name of my real father (Taylor) which was on my birth certificate. I was told that I needed to petition the courts to legally keep my mother’s ex-husband’s last name. If I did not have the legal documents necessary, I would not be able to begin my new job. As I went through the motions to obtain these documents, my soul was telling me don't do it. In 1994, I decided to legally change my last name to Searles. It was almost 20 years later (since 1985) that I reconnected and spoke to my father. I found out that his name was Thomas Taylor Jr. So, at 38 yrs of age, married with two children, I legally petitioned the court again to change my name to Thomas Taylor III. It was quite an arduous task, but as each document came back identifying me as “Thomas Taylor III,” I felt as though pieces of myself were given back to me, filling me up and making me whole.

Thus began my long journey on a bumpy road to find out more about my father – to reclaim who I rightfully was. Our relationship is solid now. I met my grandfather, who was 96 years old before he passed away, and my other siblings. I even see a bit of myself in my father’s smile – a smile he has just for me.

I never did take that job as a Corrections Officer. With my rightful name, my dreams became clearer...and bigger!

I was meant to begin Growing Up Without A Father.

Thomas Taylor III


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