Finding Cassidy

HarperTrophy Canada -

Amazon Barnes and Noble Indigo

When is your dad not your dad? “You were conceived under exceptional circumstances.” Sixteen-year-old Cassidy can hardly believe it. As she struggles to understand that she’s the product of a ‘clean and businesslike arrangement’ and her biological father is nothing more than a sperm donor, Cassidy is doubly devastated to learn the man she calls dad has just been diagnosed with a fatal disease. When she blurbs out the news at a party, she faces some shocking consequences. On top of it all, Cassidy realizes she may never know who she really is.

Junior Advisor’s Pick, Chapters/Indigo, 2006

What People Are Saying

This book tackles numerous weighty and highly relevant issues.
– Canadian Children’s Book News

A great take on the classic “finding yourself when becoming a teen” plot . . . five stars!
– Kristie Foreman, Junior Advisor’s Review

A well-written and sympathetic tale.
– The Brandon Sun


“What?” The kitchen light flickered; the storm was picking up. I was momentarily disoriented. “I don’t get it.”

“Sit down,” Mom said softly.

My legs shook. Blood pounded behind my eyes. I felt like I had a case of instant flu. I sat. “What are you talking about?”

Dad pinched the bridge of his nose and dropped his gaze. “It’s complicated.”

“Am I adopted?”

“You’re not adopted.” Mom grabbed the butter tart squares from the top of the microwave and sat back down again. “You’ve seen the pictures of me pregnant. How I looked right after delivery.” Her voice sounded strangled, like she had a chunk of rigatoni caught in the back of her throat.

“What then?” I stared from Mom to Dad. “What is it?”

“It’s . . .” Dad hesitated. “It’s . . .

complicated,” he repeated weakly.

Complicated. Now that explained a lot. Mom, aka Queen of Avoidance, busied herself cutting the butter tarts into perfect 2-inch squares.

“Do you plan to tell me this year?” I snapped. “Or do I have to guess?”

Dad tapped his fingers nervously against the table. “Grace,” he murmured. “Help me out here.”

When Mom dropped the knife, it clattered against the glass baking pan. We all jumped. She leaned back in her chair and gave me a wan smile. “Cassidy, we love you more than life itself. You know that, right?”

I nodded.

“And you know we would never do anything to deliberately hurt you?” she added.

Rain blasted against the kitchen window. I shivered. “Right.” This was like a bad movie. I expected sappy music to start building any second now.

“The fact is, Cassidy, you were a very special baby. I mean, you still are special, but as a baby you were our little miracle.” Mom picked up a square, looked at it and put it back down again. “The thing is, you were a wanted baby. A chosen baby. A baby we yearned for. One we tried very, very hard to conceive. And we did try hard. Believe me, we did but it’s just that -.”

Dad interrupted her rambling. “You were conceived under exceptional circumstances,” he told me.

Exceptional. At least he was past complicated. “Invitro fertilization, you mean?”

“Not invitro,” Mom said. “Donor implant.”

“Donor implant?” The lights flickered again. “What the hell is that?”

Dad frowned. “Watch the language, Cassidy.”

“Well, what is it?”

Two balls of color flushed his cheeks. “My sperm count was too low to conceive a child.” He cleared his throat. “We used another man’s sperm.”

It took a minute, but when the truth dawned I stared in horrified fascination at my mother. “You mean you slept with another man to get pregnant?”

“Oh no. No!” Mom practically giggled.

“No, of course not. It was all done in a laboratory. His sperm was . . . you know . . . inserted inside . . . when I was fertile.” She waved her hands in the air to cover her discomfort. “It was all very clean and scientific. Businesslike. There was nothing nasty about it.” Clean and scientific. Businesslike.

The bones of most birds are hollow and filled with air. And that’s how I felt. Hollow. Like if somebody said anything else to shock me, my air-filled, insubstantial bones might be crushed under their words.

A voice that sounded like mine said, “So I’m not related to you?”

Dad shook his head. “Biologically, no. That’s why you don’t need to be tested. You don’t have my genes. But I’m still your father, Cass. That doesn’t change.”

The clock above the table ticked; the refrigerator whirred. I stared at the man I thought of as Dad. I mean, I really looked. He had red hair and freckles. I was blonde. He was stocky, I was tall. He was a steak lover; I preferred pasta. He was understated and quiet. I wasn’t. The unconnected bits of my life had always been there, only now they clicked, puzzle-like, into perfect place.

“I’m not going to get Huntington’s?”

“You are not going to get Huntington’s. We don’t share the same genes,” he repeated.

I vaguely remembered an article in People magazine a few years ago about donor implant. Some girl found her long, lost father. But I’d been too busy looking at the clothes and reading about Rene Zellweger to pay much attention.

Now I struggled to digest the news.

But you know how it is. Some things become part of you right away and some things stay weird for a long time. Like when Nana died. I must have picked up the phone to call her every day for a month. Her death just wasn’t real.

This couldn’t be real either.