Whatever Happened To ... The attorney who met adult daughter for the first time

Whatever Happened To
A. Scott Bolden photographed in 2007 with, clockwise from bottom, granddaughter Ashanti, daughter Shayla, and twin daughters McKenzie and McKay. (Angela West)
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By Kathleen Hom
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just before Thanksgiving 2001, attorney A. Scott Bolden received a telephone call that would forever alter his world. A former lover from his days at Morehouse College nearly two decades earlier wanted him to know that their daughter -- a child he'd never met and had long denied was his -- needed him.

Bolden decided it was past time to know the truth.

On Dec. 16, 2007, Bolden shared the story, detailing in The Washington Post Magazine the challenges of forging a relationship with Shayla, the daughter who was 18 and pregnant the first time they met. Then a newly divorced father of twins, he also described how out of balance his life had become.

"Money, power and political ambition were my holy trinity, my amen and hallelujah chorus," wrote Bolden, who had lost his bid for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council in 2006.

It wasn't easy to hear about the milestones he'd missed and make the transition into being a father to a young adult, he says. But Bolden, now 47, says he has developed a good relationship with his daughter and considers it a blessing that he is in her life and able to see his granddaughter grow up. "It's not perfect," he says, but "we really manage the baggage."

One continuing issue for him, he says, is trying to get out of the mind-set of a lawyer expecting his advice to be followed. But he sometimes slips into his controlling mode and worries that he is "one conversation away from getting back to the 19-year absence."

Today, Shayla, 28, her daughter, Ashanti, 9, and Bolden's twin daughters, McKenzie and McKay, both 15, all live in Atlanta. Bolden said he tries to visit them at least once a month.

His daughters get along well and have conspired to persuade him to move down, he says. But he laughs and adds that the last time he checked, his law firm wasn't expanding there.

Shayla, who had married and separated from Ashanti's father, has reunited with him. Bolden said he anticipates more parenting challenges through the twins' teenage years, but, as with any other family, he expects to turn to their big sister, Shayla, for help.

Read the original story, "Becoming Shayla's Father."

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