Mother and daughter
For 10 years, Asako and her daughter, Megumi were happily living together in their humble home. Everything seemed to be alright. Their relationship was fairly healthy and happy. Megumi grew up to be a normal and fun-loving girl. But things started to change when she turned 10.
Megumi’s fun and carefree personality slowly started to change. Asako paid no mind at first but she increasingly got worried when her daughter’s change in personality started to strain their close mother-daughter relationship.
At first, Megumi didn’t really mind the bullies but as time passed by, she slowly felt more and more left out. She would often find herself feeling jealous over her friends having both of their parents present during important school activities.
She was used to being teased for not having her father present but overtime, she started to get sick of it.
When Megumi was still a baby, her mother faced multiple problems. Although her birth was uncomplicated, the relationship between her father and mother wasn’t that good.
Just a few days after Megumi was born, her father packed his bags and left them. That’s when Asako made a promise to herself, she would raise Megumi as best as she could without relying on any man.
But maintaining a family with just two members, it was inevitable that Megumi would ask questions as a child. After all, she would see how other families normally have a mother and a father and she can’t help but compare herself to others.
But despite Megumi just having a mother, she still grew up to be a polite and kind girl. However, Asako did not anticipate the day complications between their relationship would happen.
Megumi started to seem more unhappy as her tenth birthday approached. She was anti-social and refused to talk to anyone. She wasn’t her usual fun-loving self anymore, she stopped playing with other kids and would space out during class.
Asako started to panic, her daughter started spending more time alone too. Asako then wondered if it had something to do with her absent father.
Asako then found herself seeking advice from her friends after several sleepless nights. She was really worried about the fate of her relationship with her daughter. After talking with her friends about her concerns, it became clear to her that something was definitely lacking in Megumi’s life.
Asako always thought that she has been doing her best for Megumi. She had a stable job and she makes sure that she’s able to spend quality time with her daughter. After Megumi’s father left, Asako’s heart was broken. She was afraid of engaging in romantic relationships again.
She thought that she would be enough to fill the void in Megumi’s life, but it seems she was wrong.
Eventually, Asako was confronted by Megumi’s teachers about her daughter’s behavior. They were also concerned by the sudden change in her personality. She had been acting more and more withdrawn as several months passed by and it caused people around her to worry.
Asako then sat her daughter down to talk. Megumi admitted to her mother that she didn’t want to go to school anymore because of the constant bullying. She was often bullied for not having a father. Asako then knew that she had to do something.
It was difficult for Asako to hear her daughter admit that she was having a hard time at school because she didn’t have a father. Due to the trauma that Asako experienced when her previous partner left, she did not want to engage in any romantic relationships anymore.
But it seems that she needs to figure something out fast or her daughter might spiral into depression.
Desperate to find a solution, Asako then decided to do some research. She knew that engaging in a new relationship might just bring more problems. There is a risk that Megumi might get attached and her partner might leave again just like Megumi’s dad. Asako didn’t want Megumi to experience the same thing she did.
She was about to give up until she saw something online that gave her hope…
Finding the solution?
She saw the number on her screen and contemplated long and hard if she should dial it. It seems like it was the answer to all her problems. “It’s harmless and convenient,” she thought to herself.
But she knew she had to be extra careful for it to work. She picked up her phone and dialed the number.
Setting her plan in motion
Asako talked to her daughter, she told her that someone wants to reconnect with them. This filled Megumi with excitement. “Could it be?” the little girl thought to herself. She never thought the day would come when she could finally meet her father.
Megumi’s face brightened up, she couldn’t contain her smile.
When Asako was researching for ways to fill the void in her daughter’s life without having to date anymore, she came across a site called Family Romance. They offered eccentric but genuine services.
It was a strange tactic but Asako was desperate to repair the bond she once had with her daughter. She then tried to choose the perfect surrogate father for her.
Asako contemplated a lot but in the end, she chose a man named Ishii Yuichi to serve as their family’s surrogate dad. Asako chose Ishii because she felt that he was the easiest one to talk to.
“He’s very kind and sweet, so I just followed my instincts. My requests were very simple. Firstly, I wanted him to say how sorry he was that he couldn’t be in Megumi’s life until then. Secondly, I wanted him to listen to whatever she wanted to tell him,” Asako explained.
Did it work?
Overtime, Megumi became more outgoing and happy. “She loved to talk, she was lively. She even wanted to go back to school, and that’s when I thought, ‘This has all been worth it!’ Asako shared.
Although it seems Asako’s plan has been working perfectly well, she knew she can never let Megumi know the truth.
At a rate of $200 for a few hours, Ishii was tasked to play the role of the family’s father as well as he can. At first glance, it may seem like an odd business to run but it’s actually more common than people think.
“We receive about 250 requests a month, and our customer satisfaction rate is 98 percent,” their website said. But surely, Ishii can’t possibly keep playing this dangerous game of charades forever.
Does he have to pretend forever?
It seems the decision is up to Asako whether she should reveal the truth to her daughter or not, but until then, Ishii is required to put up a facade in front of Megumi. “If the client never reveals the truth, I must continue the role indefinitely,” Ishii explained.
“If the daughter gets married, I have to act as a father at that wedding. And then I have to be the grandfather. So, I always ask every client, ‘Are you prepared to sustain this lie?’ It’s the most significant problem our company has,” Ishii added.
With Asako spending so much time with the surrogate father, it’s nearly impossible not to develop any genuine feelings towards them. “When the three of us are together, I feel at peace,” Asako said.
“We talk, we laugh, and we are very kind to each other. He’s been in our lives for such a long time now, I would like to marry him and become a real family,” Asako shared. But is it even possible for Asako’s fake relationship to blossom into something more?
Ishii doesn’t only work as Megumi’s surrogate because the men in their company are tasked to have a maximum of five families at a time. When Asako confessed to Ishii, he rejected her feelings politely.
“I have told [Ishii how I feel], but he told me to my face that he’s with us because it’s his job. It’s very complicated. I’m very aware that he’s only with us because we’re paying him,” Asako shared sadly. But despite their family’s unconventional setup, Asako is confident that Megumi will be able to accept the truth one day without any complications.