This could get lengthy, and as I typed it I realized how complicated it is.
Late in high school I went through the usual teen angst rebelling against my parents, didn't want to be compared to my two older brothers, etc. and in retrospect was just in a bad place. I ended up getting her pregnant and was there when the baby was born in early 1998, however I exited the picture not long thereafter. Everyone in my family, while probably disagreeing with my actions, respected my decision and left it alone. It was a bad time in my life that I don't like to talk about nor care to remember.
I went on with my life, got married in 2003. I'm Catholic, she's Jewish. We were married by a rabbi because at that time I told my fiancée that we'd raise our kids in both faiths and a Catholic priest was not cool with that. As time went on, with no kids, I came to the conclusion we should do one or the other. She's pretty bent on raising them Jewish.
At the end of November my father passed away. After a few months I decided I wanted to back in full communion with the church, because that's how he brought me up, so I contacted our parish priest and told him that "Yes, she's pretty stubborn about it but I'm committed to trying to get her to change her mind and doing what I can to make sure any children we have are raised Catholic." So last weekend our marriage was convalidated (yay!).
This brings us to the present day. My brothers have kids, her sister has a boy, all in all we have six nephews and one niece. You can imagine my wife has baby fever. I'm hesitant to have a baby now because we can hardly afford our own lives, plus she never graduated high school (which I didn't find out about until 5 years of marriage - but that's another therapy session) and has other habits I'm not fond of. I'm not comfortable bringing a baby into that situation. I think she'll quit her habit if she's pregnant but I really, really believe she has no intention of ever finishing high school. What's incredibly aggravating about that situation is she was laid off in January 2009, and between then and October was turned down for at least two jobs because of those two issues (one required a urine test and her habit showed up and the other called her HS, which of course said she was a 1/2 credit short - that's how I found out). One would think that if either of those prevented a job the problems would be remedied. I almost feel like she's not the woman I married almost seven years ago. Anyway…
It's probably seeing my brothers with their kids, my father's passing, wanting to raise a child Catholic, all of that plus the main fact that I feel like I've been a terrible father, that I want to reach out and see if it's too late to be a part of his life. He's only 12 so hopefully he hasn't reached the point where he totally understands what happened. But I also find myself wondering if he's at all like me. Did he get my long eyelashes? Does he have the wave in his hair like I do that I got from my dad? I have so many questions that I want answered but I'm worried that his mother will reject me. I want to take it all very, very slow; I don't think it would serve anyone well for me to just show up. I was thinking I'd call his mother, ask her to meet me somewhere to have coffee or lunch and just talk. Get her input on the matter. Then maybe do the same with him. The three of us go out to lunch. Then introduce my wife, my family, all of that, but slowly. The other thing that worries me is that he has a younger brother in the same situation. She got pregnant and the father left. I'm worried that he'll ask questions, like "Why does Josh have a dad now? Where's mine?" If I had the financial means I wouldn't hesitate to be a father to him too. Obviously if we went to a ballgame I'd invite him along but I can't be responsible for his schooling, clothes, etc.
I've also taken into consideration how this was going to explained to my niece and nephews. How their uncle had a baby when he was very young but couldn't be there for him. How they have a cousin they've never met, and likely won't. I've decided it's not fair to them, or anyone in my family.
But my biggest overall concern is how to handle this situation and will I be accepted. I'm sure they have some unkind words for me, which I richly deserve, but at the same time, doesn't it say something that I'm finally stepping up? I'll always regret missing the first 12 years but I really want to be there now, especially since my father passed. That's when I realized what I had and what he should have had.
Any advice, even if it's mean-spirited (I can take it, I deserve it), is welcome.