Post 1 of 2 I am new to this forum and after reading similar posts and the straight-up honest opinions of other members, I felt compelled to share my story and ask for your opinions. My daughter, Samantha was conceived when I was 19 years old. Six months into her mom's pregnancy, her mom (4 years older than myself) cheated on me with her ex-boyfriend of 3 years. This caused me much doubt as to whether or not the child inside of her was mine. In total fight or flight response, I moved from PA to FL before my daughter was even born for the first two and a half years of my Samantha's life. This quite obviously upset her mother, who finally decided to file for child support, approx. 9 months after Samantha was born. This prompted a paternity test, and I returned from FL to take the test. Because blood needed to be drawn from both myself and my daughter, her mother made a comment to my 9 month old daughter (although it was meant for me) "Look Samantha, Daddy gave you your first boo-boo". The paternity test came back showing me as her father, and I became very confused about how to move forward. Since I was only 20 years old at the time, I neither had the resources or wherewithal to contact a therapist for help and thought that I would be able to handle the situation myself. A year went by and I was still living in Florida, now knowing that I was a father. During this time, Samantha's mom would call me very upset, demanding that I come back to take responsibility for our child. It got to the point where I could no longer look in the mirror knowing that I had a daughter that I was not being responsible for. So after two and a half years in FL and having established the beginning of my career with the company that I still work for to this day, I moved back to PA to have a relationship with my daughter. I was met by her mother with resistance. I was introduced to my daughter as "Mommy's friend" for the first month or so that I moved back after which time she finally told Samantha that I was her father. Samantha's 3 year-old reply was a very cute "But I didn't ask for a daddy for Christmas".... The following two years were spent with myself and my Samantha's mother spending time together and separately with her. I was told during this time that if I were to leave again, not to expect to have any kind of relationship or contact with our daughter. This whole time her mother was dating a married man, in a very misguided attempt at a relationship. Finally the relationship ended with the married man and Samantha's mom met a man, who eventually became Samantha's stepfather. I should pause at this point and state that during these two years, I saw Samantha regularly both with and without her mom and had begun what I thought was going to be an enduring relationship with my daughter and her mother. It was to the point where I was invited to their house for holiday meals and I held the video camera at her mom's wedding. I lived very close and Samantha had her own bedroom in my home. Two weeks after Samantha's mom married, I was approached by her and was asked to sign over custody to her new husband. When I refused, Samantha's mom tried to further convince me to do it by saying that she would still let me see Samantha and I would not have to pay child support. She had no grounds for stripping me of custody, so when I refused, she did the next best thing (for her) - she had my Samantha's last name changed to her new husband's last name. Samantha's mom chose not to give our daughter my last name for a myriad of reasons and this is apparently why it was so easy for her to have it changed. I contacted multiple attorneys who told me that there is no way a judge would rule in my favor to have Samantha's last name changed to mine. Things went downhill from there. Prior to Samantha's mom getting married, we had a nice schedule worked out for Samantha to be with me every Tues and Thurs as well as every other weekend. I would begin to get calls from Samantha's mom saying she wasn't feeling well and would not be coming over this weekend, or Samantha decided that she wants to be with us this weekend because of (insert family event here). Tues and Thurs turned into just Weds. At this point, I filed for custody in court (without an attorney because I could not afford it). After Samantha's mom received the paperwork I was confronted by her and the step-dad, saying that if I decided to go through with this, they would fight it every step of the way and things would be made much more difficult and awkward for me as it pertained to Samantha. In other words, I would have to start picking up Samantha from the McDonald's (or similar establishments) parking lot instead of at their house. As I mentioned, I had been used to going to Samantha's mom's house quite frequently before she got married for random meals, holiday parties and meals, family birthday's, etc. My top goal was not to make my daughter feel uncomfortable and not to pressure her either way so as to not cause resentment toward me later in her life. I would express disappointment in not being able to see her, told her that I loved her and was excited about the next time I would see her. I also made a conscious decision to stay single, to be able to demonstrate to Samantha that I really enjoyed the time we spent together with just me and her.