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June 12, 2013

First Dads Club

With a new baby at home, local guys discuss celebrating Father’s Day for the first time

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
David Lingholm, from Detroit, introduces his daughter, Abby, to the ocean in Clearwater, Fla., as mom, Gladys Santiago, snaps a photo. Lingholm will legally become father to his adopted daughter just two days after he celebrates his first Father’s Day with her.
“Tummy time” is Rochester Hills dad Caleb Moore’s favorite time of the day with his daughter, Layne.
Richie Silveri, of Macomb Township, said that becoming a father is by far the best thing he’s ever done.
 

Each year, dads get the chance to leave the lawn mowers in the garage, kick their feet up and enjoy a day of adoration from the family. And while every Father’s Day is special, there’s something to be said for the first one a new daddy gets to spend with his little baby.

Richie Silveri, of Macomb Township, is planning to do just that June 16. It was only six months ago that his first child, a little girl by the name of Marlayna, was born. Silveri said he’s looking forward to his first Father’s Day for a number of reasons.

“It means I get to golf all day, which is cool,” he said with a laugh. “And then I get to see my family and hang out with them, and the new member of my family, and have a barbecue. It means a lot, really.”

Though it’s been half a year, Silveri said he’s just getting used to all of the changes a new baby brings — both good and bad.

“The main thing is sleep. You definitely don’t get as much sleep, but you kind of learn to cope with that. Just taking care of another human being — that’s really the main thing. You’re thinking for someone other than yourself.”

But all of the worry and sleepless nights are made a little brighter, he said, when he’s welcomed home at the end of each day by his smiling baby daughter.

“Coming home from work and seeing her — that would be my favorite part, just because she’s always smiling and happy,” he said. “I’m very proud to be a father. It’s by far the greatest thing I’ve done. Well, me and my wife. I can’t take all the credit. But it’s amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

In Rochester Hills, Caleb Moore also said coming home to his baby girl is his favorite part of newfound fatherhood. That, and seeing how his daughter, Layne, seems to grow a little more each day.

“In the five months that I’ve known her, she’s been amazing. It’s just awesome to see the way she develops. To see how she gets more interactive with the toys, the way she just stares at me, and I’ve got a lifetime to go,” he said.

Since Layne is still too little to craft any macaroni necklaces or select the perfect card, Moore said he’s expecting a laid-back Father’s Day for his first year as a new daddy. But he’s looking forward to spending plenty more days with his gal.

“Right now, it’s almost a non-event for me. It’ll be the years to come when you get the little cards or the handprints they make. So, spending time with my daughter is probably the most important thing. Every day is Father’s Day. You don’t get a day off.”

It’s true. Being a dad rarely allows for a sick day or personal time. But, even so, that’s exactly what David Lingholm planned for when he and his wife, Gladys Santiago, began the complicated process of adoption. It was just about a year ago, he said, that the Detroit couple filed the initial paperwork in hopes of finding the newest member of their family.

“We had given a lot of consideration to (adoption) already. We both wanted to be parents and it wasn’t going to happen for us any other way,” said Lingholm. “So we turned in the paperwork, and two months later, we started the visitation process.”

Though Lingholm and his wife were told it could take years to bring a child home, it only took a matter of months for the state to introduce them to little Abigail, or Abby, as they’ve come to know her. They don’t know much about the 15-month-old’s past: She was born at Henry Ford Hospital, and her mother, who has a number of other children, has a long history with Child Protective Services. But Abby’s rough start doesn’t matter now. Her ‘Papa’ says she’s a playful, sassy and energetic girl who, in just a short amount of time, has changed his life in every way imaginable.

“For us, it was a little bit different. Our friends who had natural pregnancies had time to go get stuff together. A couple months, and we’ve got a kid in our house. It’s very different than we had expected, but I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t change anything,” he said.

The adoption happened fast, and it happened after lots of hard work. Lingholm and Santiago gave up their Detroit loft in favor of a more child-friendly place near Belle Isle with more space. They took classes, filled out paperwork and turned their lives upside down to make sure Abby would have a happy home. And, in return, Abby says thank you in her own special ways.

“She’s always into something, and she figures things out pretty quickly. I like to joke that she’s already hit the terrible twos at 15 months. What’s really fun is she’ll go to reach for the outlets, which we have covered, and you say, ‘Abby, no.’ And she just turns around and touches it again to see what you’re going to do,” he said. “But like, the other night, she didn’t sleep, so the next day all she wanted to do was snuggle. So, we just sat in her room in a chair and cuddled for like half an hour. And I’m just so glad I have the chance to do that now.”

Lingholm’s first Father’s Day will no doubt be filled with emotion. In addition to the milestone itself, he, little Abby and the rest of the family will celebrate the last court date to finalize the adoption, which will happen just two days later on June 18.

“(The court date) is also my grandmother’s birthday, and this is her first great-grandchild. It just adds a whole other layer — (Abby) finally becoming a legal part of the family. I don’t think it could be timed any better.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.