Summary: Part 8 of a series on the Life of David - Preached on Father’s Day, 2004
Insights from the Life of David – Part 8:
“The Legacy of a Man: Solomon’s Father, David”
A Michigan high school senior, Kara Hewes, entered a crowded conference room to face cameras and reporters. She was about to make a public appeal to her seventy-three-year-old father. She asked him to admit his paternity. "I’d just like him to be a father," she said. "I want very much to develop a relationship with him." Her biological father, identified through a reliable blood test, was Bruce Sundlun, World War II Air Force captain, Harvard Law School graduate, and second-term governor of Rhode Island.
Kara Hewes got her wish. Shortly after the press conference in June 1993, Sundlun acknowledged his paternity and agreed to pay Kara’s college tuition. She withdrew her paternity suit. Father and daughter dined together in the governor’s mansion, and he invited her to visit him and his other children at his Newport estate.
The case was a complicated one. The thrice-divorced governor was single at the time he fathered Kara. He had already paid $30,000 to Kara’s mother to settle an earlier suit, and Kara had been adopted by her stepfather, who later vanished.
As for the governor, he was reluctant to dwell on the past: "I think the important thing is not to look back," he later told reporters in a joint press conference with his daughter. "We’re here to look forward and try to create a relationship. You can’t wave a magic wand and have a storybook life."
Governor Sundlun’s unstorybook story, though a bit more public than most, has become increasingly common. It’s a story unfolding in countless courtrooms and welfare offices across the nation. Like the governor, more and more men are fathering children outside of marriage. More and more men are failing to support or even acknowledge their children. More and more men are simply vanishing from their children’s lives.
The story of Kara Hewes is a familiar one. A growing number of American children have no relationship with their fathers. Court and school officials tell us that many children don’t even know what to put in the "Father’s Name" blank on printed forms. An even larger proportion of children have only the slightest acquaintance with their fathers.
Fathers are also vanishing legally. More than one-third of all childbirths in our nation now occur outside of marriage. In most of these cases, the place for the father’s name on the birth certificate is simply left blank. In at least two of every three cases of unwed parenthood, the father is never legally identified.
When Governor Sundlun said that we "can’t wave a magic wand and have a storybook life," he implied that the storybooks may be unrealistic. But the sad reality is that even storybooks for children now reflect the story of our society. "There are different kinds of daddies," one book for preschoolers states, and "sometimes a Daddy goes away like yours did. He may not see his children at all." Another children’s book says: "Some kids know both their mom and dad, and some kids don’t." One child in this book says: "I never met my dad, but I know that he lives in a big city." Another says: "I’ll bet my dad is really big and strong."