It takes a village to raise a child, but some parents have to do it solo. When Richard Johnson became a father in 2015, he had no idea that his partner would leave him and their daughter, Persephone. He rose to the occasion and began to learn everything he could about parenting, including joining a single dad Facebook group called Life of Dad. About 10 months later, Richard posted a thank you to the group that went viral.
Bringing His Daughter Home
Richard was 21 when he became a dad, but for a long time, he didn’t want kids. “I came from a family where everyone is either divorced or a single parent. My father wasn’t in the picture, and I never wanted that for my kids, so I was dead set on not having any.”
However, he changed his mind after meeting the woman who’d become Persephone’s mother. “We decided that we wanted kids, and I wanted to give them the life I didn’t have.”
Despite the newfound desire to have kids, discovering she was pregnant scared the life out of him. “The more I thought about it, the more panicked I got. I didn’t know what it meant to be an involved father except from what I saw on TV or movies.”
But then the mother left after her daughter was born. “We still don’t know exactly why, but we suspect post-partum depression played a part,” wrote Richard in his viral post.
Also, she took Persephone with her. “She took my little girl to California, but then called a week later and said if I didn’t come get Persephone, she was going to put her up for adoption,” said Richard in an interview with Yahoo Parenting.  Richard rushed to bring his daughter home.
Raising a Daughter on His Own
Those initial days as a single father were extremely difficult. In a follow-up post, Richard explains,
“I spent more than a few nights holding my little girl as she slept weeping because I wasn’t sure I was going to be a good enough father for her. One night, in particular, was the night she first crawled. She came to me and laid her tiny little hand on my cheek and stared into my eyes. I took it as ‘Come on Daddy, we have a lot to do.’ So I told her no more crying for either of us and we were going to fight to be happy. We’ve kept true to that promise.”
He embraced being a single dad and began to learn everything he could about parenting. He turned to older friends who also raised little girls for advice. Richard even learned how to braid before Persephone’s hair grew long enough for it.
Read: Postman returns Father’s Day letter sent to heaven
Richard’s Viral Post
When Persephone was about 10 months, Richard felt more confident about his fatherly role and wrote his viral post to Life of Dad.
“In the first few weeks of it being just her and me, I stumbled upon your page by accident. I was so nervous and scared about being a father in general, but now I was a single father and had to fulfill two roles.” He wrote, “I wasn’t sure I could do it.” 
“I had read every ‘new parent’ book I could find and clocked in over 1000 hours in YouTube videos from everything to braiding hair and painting nails to theories on how to deal with common parental issues,” he continued.
However, while the other research taught him how to be a parent, the support group helped him grow confidence.
“I then started to watch your page more closely and saw that there were other fathers out there who were in similar predicaments as me. The page started to turn into a major confidence booster and really helped me through all of this.
“I always look forward to photo submissions and reading the stories of some of the awesome dads out there in this community. You truly helped my daughter and me through a very difficult time.
He concluded, “We’re both very happy now and continue to grow together everyday. She’s now 10 months, and I now get asked by my friends for parenting advice constantly. We’ve come a long way, my daughter and me, and we definitely owe part of that to this page and the people within it. So from both of us, we wanted to thank you.”
Persephone & Richard Johnson
When his story garnered some media coverage, Richard made the Persephone & Richard Johnson Facebook page where he could update people on his and his daughter’s story. Updates included adorable photos and videos of Persephone and her dad as they celebrate holidays, game days, music, and overall enjoy life together. In 2017, Richard announced that he found a new mom for Persephone who loved her as much as he did. And on May 27, 2021, Richard wrote a celebratory post as Persephone graduated from kindergarten.
“Gosh, where have the years gone?!” he wrote. “I remember when we first started this page you could barely walk but now look at you! You destroyed the challenges of kindergarten and set a bar I’m envious of! Through covid and all life has thrown at us you stood tall and kept smiling. Not many adults have the absolute tenacity you do. We never have let life get in our way, have we? You taught me how to keep going and now look at us.” He ended his post expressing his pride and love for his daughter.