As Told to Margena A. Christian
As a teen dad, Kevin Frazier made the tough decision to walk away from his firstborn child. Returning to his past allowed him to move forward and reconnect with the son he had put up for adoption.
When my youngest sons were born, I was there. I walked every step of the way with them. With my firstborn son, it wasn’t that way. After he was born on April 18, 1982, he was taken away. I wasn’t prepared to hear that my off-and-on girlfriend was pregnant. I just thought, ‘Wow. I’m in deep trouble.’ We went to the same high school. I was 18 and a senior. She was 17 and a junior. I was 100-percent terrified. I lived in Columbia, Md., a city that was built on racial harmony; however there was some tension there with her family because she was White and I was Black. These were huge dynamics at the time. Her family was not happy and neither was mine. We had a big meeting with our parents.
Giving the child up for adoption was a decision that was mutually reached by everyone. I went to the hospital for his birth. That day, my feelings changed after I saw my child being born, but the decision had been made. At that age, I just moved forward. I went away to school, but that decision always sat in the back of my mind. I always wondered what he looked like. How was he? So out of the goodness of their hearts, his adoptive parents sent a picture when he turned 1. They would send pictures from time to time. I would send them a note, but I really backed away until he was older. They were raising him and taking great care of him; I had to get out of their way. I didn’t want to harm their relationship. At the same time, I was dealing with growing up. Ultimately, it’s one of those hard things where you have to live with your decisions. Many days I was like, “God, that was a crazy mistake.” But I always thought about my son. I would send him notes from time to time. I always talked about him, especially to my fiancée, who later became my wife. As I got older, I decided I need to see him. He was 13. We spent the day together. It was funny. We would stare at each other because we have the same mannerisms, and we look alike. He’s the caramel-coated version of me. It’s a weird thing. It was an amazing moment. I stayed in touch with him. Finally, he moved up to Hartford, Conn., where I was living at the time and working for ESPN. He moved in with me and started going to college. You can only imagine how crazy it is when someone at 19 going on 20 moves in with you. He felt like he was an adult. I told him I was learning how to be a parent. It was a clash of the titans. We had some epic struggles. We both have regrets, but I told him, “We’re going to make the best of the second half of our lives. We’re going to work this out. I’m going to learn to be a parent, and you’re going to learn to be a son.” It was really just push and pull. There were a lot of little moments that tested me. It took a second for him. He felt like, ‘Here’s this guy who could have raised me when I was a little boy. So why do I trust him so much now?’ We really had to build our relationship, and that was done one day at a time. He calls me Kevin, but to other people, it’s always “my father” or “my dad.”
I’m fine with any one of them. It’s an amazing blessing when you get a second chance at something like this. Our relationship has become so strong because we appreciate how lucky we are to have each other. It is one of those divine things. It felt like it was destined to be. There was always a force pushing and pulling us together. If I could do it all over again, I would not leave him at the hospital. I stop and tell myself, ‘Don’t look back at what you have missed out on. Look at what you have and be appreciative of that.’ I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I love the lessons he’s taught me and how he made me grow up and understand things. Whatever decision you’re going to make is going to be OK, but when it’s all said and done, life is really short. When you are blessed with the amazing gift of a child, you’ve got to understand the blessing and embrace it. It took me a minute, but I came around. We worked it out. You can always work it out. Never say never.