You are the father
While some people’s New Year’s resolutions are simple, Pamela Chandler, 42, a teacher from Atlanta, Georgia, set out to find out more about her heritage, never having known who her father was or where he was from.
Six months later, she found herself on a plane destined for The Bahamas to meet the man, who, up until a few months ago, didn’t know she existed.
This week, Joseph “Kinky” Fox, 62, got an early Father’s Day gift – a face-to-face meeting with Chandler, the child he unknowingly fathered at 19 years old.
“I am just now, at the age of 42, learning who my father is,” Chandler told The Nassau Guardian, while snuggled between her newly discovered father and stepmother, Nelda Spence-Fox.
“I’ve gone my entire life not knowing his name, where he was from or anything like that, and this year I just decided that I wanted to learn more about myself.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking for my father. I was just looking for my heritage; what I could be mixed with or anything like that. And, so, as I was watching an Ancestry.com commercial, I said, ‘Oh, I should just go ahead and sign up for that’.
“And so, I signed up for that and I got what I was looking for – the heritage.”
Chandler said she had no idea that she would find her father, as her mother was only able to provide limited information about him, like his band name, “Kinky”.
“I had a little bit of information about him,” she said. “It wasn’t enough that I thought was enough to find him. He would have been in New York at the time, back in the 70s. He was a drummer, and he was from some island. That was the information I grew up with.”
Chandler said when she got the DNA kit from the online company at the beginning of the year, she was initially apprehensive to do it and let it sit on her counter for weeks before actually opening it.
She said she finally got the courage to do it sometime in February, swabbed her saliva and sent it off to Ancestry.com.
She said when she got the results some six weeks later, she was matched with over 300 relatives and found that she had second and third cousins connected to The Bahamas.
One of her cousins contacted her and helped her to put the pieces together in a matter of hours, eventually giving her a name and a number for Fox.
Fox, who now works as a legal consultant, said when Chandler contacted him, he initially thought it was for legal advice.
“I received this message from this lady saying, ‘I’m trying to find my father’,” he said.
“So the first thing to go in my head was, ‘Cha-ching – money’. It’s a U.S. call, it’s a job.”
Fox said after her second message to him, he asked her what her father’s name is, so he could do a search.
“What happened was she sent a message back saying, ‘All I know is my father is from an island. He’s a drummer; he was in a band’. And the last thing she wrote was, ‘And he goes by the band name Kinky’.
“So when she sent me that message, I knew I was locked. I knew it was over with. There was no getting out of that because I was in New York. I didn’t remember the time, but I know what I was back in the day.
“Back in the day then, everything was more casual. It’s not as complicated as it is now. So I just wrote, ‘Wow, I’m Kinky’.”
Fox said he called Chandler but tried to be very careful of what he said to her.
“I’m feeling kind of guilty now, because I’m trying to find the information,” he said. “I know all of my kids. Why would I not know this one? And when she started telling me the story of her mom and everything, I said, ‘Okay, this is how it happened’.
“I was a bit scared at first. I was a bit afraid of how I was going to deal with it with her or how it would go. Then I was starting to prepare myself for the ‘You was no good’, ‘Where you been?’
“All of those things were going through my mind. But then she had a whole different thing. She just wanted to meet me, just wanted to talk, so that made it easy.”
Fox said he and Chandler spoke every day from March 27.
He said they decided one day to make it official and do a DNA test.
It wouldn’t be until April 25 until they got the results.
But there was one other factor made that made the father-daughter duo nervous.
Fox’s brother was also in the band, and they also had to consider the possibility that he could be her father.
“I told her ‘Even if I’m not your father from the DNA, I will still accept you as my adopted daughter’,” Fox said.
When the day finally came when the results arrived, Fox and his family and Chandler gathered via a video call to find out the results.
“The results, we got it back, and it felt like the TV show, 99.9996 percent,” Chandler said.
“So it was a big relief at that point because there were no more questions.
“I can’t believe that I found him as quickly as I did without looking for him.
“I had no idea. I just thought it would be something I would go my life not knowing who my father is, and I accepted that, and it was fine.
“And I didn’t have any expectations; even once I got his name, whatever it was going to be, let it be. I had no expectations of trying to make up the past, just whatever it is, let’s go from here.
“And so, I was so excited to find him well, that we can have a relationship, that we can speak every day, and it’s worked out very lovely.”
Fox met Chandler’s mother during a trip to New York in 1974, while he was on a concert tour with his band, “Foxfire”, later named “Der Kinky Fox”.
“My mother was very young. She was 16 when she had me; he was 19,” she said.
“I’m still trying to put the pieces together, but he was in a band, and I think she kind of tagged along with some relatives, some older relatives. And I think it was exciting to kind of, I don’t want to say be a groupie, but to kind of hang out with the band.
“I’m not sure when she learned that she was having me.
“… The story that I got was, she was in a relationship, but then when I was born, she didn’t know who the father was until I was born, because I am very, very light, whereas everyone else is very, very dark.
“So, I always say I came out telling the truth.”
Chandler said she never got that information growing up as a child. When she was in college, her mother told her the only other thing she knew about the man she had had a one night stand with – his nickname.
As for how her mother is reacting to the discovery, Chandler said she is happy for her.
“I think she is relieved that I found him,” Chandler said.
“I think she knew that she [didn’t have] any more information to give, and I think she’s probably held that guilt that I don’t know anything else to tell you, like that’s all I knew.
“It was during a time where it just happened the way it happened.”
Chandler said once she met Fox via video call, she immediately felt a connection.
She said she never had a father figure.
“It just was what it was, so it’s pretty exciting to now find him, know him and love him,” she said.
She said after speaking to her father for only a few weeks, she had no trepidation to visiting him in The Bahamas.
Fox said he felt like he also knew her for years.
“It wasn’t like I was expecting a stranger to come; I was expecting my daughter,” he said.
But while Fox and Chandler were excited to unite with one another, Fox still had to break the news to his wife of 20 years.
Fox and his wife have one child together, but nine between the two of them.
She said when her husband called to tell her the news, she was initially shocked.
“When he first told me on the phone, after the third, ‘You hear me?’, I said, ‘Yeah, I heard you. How old is this child?” Spence-Fox said.
“I’m trying to be a nice wife here, but just don’t say the wrong age. Just don’t even tell me she is 20.”
She said when she saw the picture of Chandler and her mom, she said to Fox, “This is your child”.
She said she took a week to digest the matter, told their children, and then made a call to Chandler to introduce herself.
“The minute I spoke to her, she was so respectful, I fell in love with her,” Spence-Fox said.
“I need her to know that she is a part of our 10.
“… I am happy. I’m a happy mom right now. I’ve been bragging all over Nassau.”
Chandler has been in The Bahamas just over a week and will leave today.
She has a daughter and is expecting another child.
Asked whether there are plans to meet with Chandler’s mother, Fox said, “We have already spoken and there is plans to meet her.
“I have no problem meeting her mother, because she’s a part of a good thing and I’m a part of it now.
“I say it’s all in acceptance; it’s just what people accept.
“What could we do?
“It happened, things happen. She’s now 42 going on 43. I’m going to be another grandpa. I’ve got another granddaughter.
“How happier can I get?
“She is well-taken care of. She is well-educated. She educates people. I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m on the top of the world’.
“My family loves her. My wife accepts her. My daughter and all of them, all of her sisters and everybody all love her.
“They love each other, [and] that’s all I’m concerned with. I’ll meet her mother, her grandma, whoever. You want to go to the graveyard to say hi to those who left us earlier? We’ll go do that too. We have no issues.”