A man was devastated when his beloved wife died, and he had to look after his newborn son as a single parent. He was still reeling from the loss when a letter arrived one day, demanding a DNA test that revealed shocking results.
There's something about parenthood that brings out the best in people. Welcoming children and showering them with tender love and affection is a source of infinite joy for parents.
Ben Goeller from Elyria, Ohio, was no exception to this phenomenon. His heart was filled with profound paternal feelings for his kid, despite battling the trauma of losing his better half. But what he didn't know was that life had more surprises in store for him.
[Left] Ben pictured holding Baby Bryan; [Right] Ben and Bryan busy playing together. | Source: youtube.com/OWN
Ben and his wife, Rondi, were high school sweethearts. They were head over heels in love and tied the knot at 19. The couple was married for 21 years and had been together much longer than that. Regarding their relationship, Ben expressed:
"We had been together longer than we'd been apart."
On their 20th wedding anniversary, Ben recounted that Rondi walked into his office and gave him unexpected news — she was pregnant. When the couple discovered they were having a boy, Ben was thrilled and couldn't wait to play baseball with his son.
Baby Bryan. | Source: YouTube.com/OWN
WELCOMING THEIR SON
Their two daughters were already studying in college, and Ben tried his best to be there for Rondi. He accompanied her on every doctor's visit and was even beside her when she delivered the baby in 1993. The Goellers named their boy "Bryan."
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Little Bryan's arrival was pure joy for the Goellers. "Being there for Bryan's birth was — it was phenomenal. I got to hold him even before my wife did. It was really a nice experience," recalled Ben.
Ben Goeller. | Source: YouTube.com/OWN
AN IRREPARABLE LOSS
Sadly, their happiness didn't last long. When Bryan was just four months old, his mother suddenly passed away. Ben revealed that his wife complained she had a pounding headache and wanted to rest. But when she lay down, she never woke up.
It turned out Rondi died of a brain aneurysm, and Ben's life turned upside down. The grieving widower was left alone with a little boy who needed constant supervision. He was 40 at the time and became Bryan's mom and dad.
Ben learned how to change diapers, feed his son, bathe him and do all the important stuff. He was still recovering from the shock of his wife's sudden demise and trying to be a good father to Bryan when something strange happened.
Ben pictured holding Baby Bryan. | Source: YouTube.com/OWN
THE LETTER THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
In May 1994, just before Bryan's first birthday, Ben received a shocking letter from a stranger who claimed to be Bryan's father. The letter also demanded Ben take a DNA test to prove paternity. Talking about the letter's contents, Ben revealed:
"It states that, 'We believe that your son is my biological son, and I demand a DNA testing and I demand custody. And basically, we'd like to take your son away from you.'"
Ben was shattered and called it his life's worst moment. Still, he took the DNA test, which revealed an appalling secret his wife thought she had taken to her grave — he was not Bryan's biological father.
A candid shot of Ben holding Bryan. | Source: YouTube.com/OWN
MORE HEART-WRENCHING NEWS
The shocking DNA test results also corresponded to other heartbreaking news — Rondi had cheated on Ben. The Ohio man said he never doubted his wife's intentions and never even checked her phone records or spied on her whereabouts.
Ben shared his worst fears had come true. Not only did he have to deal with the fact that his late wife had an affair, but he also had to fight for Bryan's custody. The letter he received came from Richard Lorence, Rondi's co-worker.
In the letter, Lorence referred to Bryan as Kevin, the name of Ben's dog. He later expressed he didn't know the boy's name or birthday but suspected he was Bryan's biological father.
Ben watches Little Bryan crawling. | Source: YouTube.com/OWN
FIGHTING FOR THE BOY
Ben, who cared deeply for his son, hired a private investigator to find information on Lorence. He discovered that Rondi and Lorence had worked together at Lorain Products. A year later, Ben was convinced, and Lorence was serious about establishing paternity.
Lorence's claims were proven true as per the DNA test results. The letter brought both men face to face in court as they fought hard for Bryan's custody.
Initially, young Bryan's time was split evenly, and the two men traded him every Thursday evening and Monday morning for three years. Ben was also made to pay Lorence monthly child support, but he later appealed the decision.
Ben helps Bryan with his school work. | Source: YouTube.com/OWN
Amidst the court battle, Ben recalled his son was caught up between his biological and non-biological fathers. The distraught widower appealed to the court when he realized the legal paperwork didn't include his one weekend each month with Bryan.
Ben revealed he yearned to take his son to the games on weekends, which he couldn't do during the regular school week. In July 2000, the court ruled that the shared parenting agreement was illegal because the parties were not a married couple.
Consequently, Ben was given Bryan's sole custody, and Lorence received full visitation rights. What are your thoughts on this story? How would you feel if you were in Ben or Lorence's place?
Take a look at this story where a man met his girlfriend when she was pregnant and was criticized for being a father to another man's baby. Click here to read the whole story.
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