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.