Three Questions for a Teacher and Father

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Nick Shepard and Hugh Ryan i

Nick Shepard (left) tells the story of how he met his father to his friend Hugh Ryan. StoryCorps hide caption

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Nick Shepard and Hugh Ryan

Nick Shepard (left) tells the story of how he met his father to his friend Hugh Ryan.


Nick Shepard was 19 when he first learned his birth father's name. He soon Googled that name and discovered that the man was a teacher in Glasgow, Scotland. Turns out, Shepard was getting ready to visit Glasgow.

Shepard tells his friend Hugh Ryan about the trip.

"I woke up the morning after I got to Glasgow and I decided to just go to the university to look around, see what I thought. I had the address written down for my biological father and I went there.

"I looked down the hallway and I saw a sign with his name. Finally, I just said this is the only chance in my life I will ever have to do this."

He walked up to the door and knocked. "He looked at me with a look that was not quite hostile, but impatient."

Shepard asked the man if he remembered living in Connecticut 20 years ago. "And he got this kind of odd smile on his face and he said, 'Yes, I remember it.'"

Shepard asked if he remembered a relationship with a woman named Eloise. The man said he did.

"I said, 'Well, I'm the result of that relationship," Shepard adds. The man replied with a long "ah."

"I have this panic that he's going to touch me. But he doesn't. He walks past me and he closes the door and walks back to the table where I'm seated.

"He says, 'So, you're here.'"

Shepard said he had three questions for the teacher.

First, whether there was any history of diseases or genetic issues he needed to know about.

"He said, 'No, not that I know of.'"

Then Shepard asked if he would explain the circumstances surrounding his birth, "and how it came to be that I was born and he left.

"For the first time and only time over the course of our 15-minute conversation, the grin left his face.

"Eventually, he said, 'Well, I think at that point, Eloise was ready to have a child," something he wasn't ready for. "Never was, never have been," the man said.

"He didn't really offer anything more," Shepard says.

And finally, Shepard asked if he could take a picture of his biological father.

"I had a little disposable camera, took a picture of him, and that was that."

They said their goodbyes and Shepard left.

"I don't know if I'll ever contact him, if I will ever want him to be part of my life in any way. But for now, I don't."

As he walked back to where he was staying in Glasgow, Shepard says he felt he had "made a peace with a part of myself that I never expected — that I never even thought possible."

Produced for 'Morning Edition' by Katie Simon. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Sarah Kramer.

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