For over 20 years, it has just been the two of them. Ever since Alayna Bruflat's father disappeared from their lives when she was six months old, all that was left were questions.
"Where is my father? Why am I not good enough? Am I just messed up? Is there just something wrong with me?" Alayna Bruflat said.
Even then, Kathy Schrad tried to be strong for her daughter as the search for this mysterious man continued.
"I really felt like if I was a really committed mother, why would she need a dad?" Schrad said.
That need to find a father figure was still there, no matter how close the two were as a family.
"Our family friends that we hung out with were all married and I was the odd one out, you know, but she could see what she was missing," Schrad said.
Bruflat says she lacked that role model, a support system to show her how she was supposed to be treated as a woman. That missing piece led her down a dangerous path that included teenage pregnancy. It was soon after she was pregnant that they found her father.
"I did find my dad when I was 15 years old. I found my dad in prison for life. I was a one-night stand. My dad is not a dad; he's a biological contributor," Bruflat said.
It was the ultimate disappointment. She felt alone, with no father to be there for her when her child died. She didn't think she would ever find someone to call dad until two years ago when Schrad met the man she would later marry. It didn't take long for this fatherly influence to take hold.
"It's the person that is adamant about being actively in your life and being there to protect you from the things that scare you," Bruflat said.
Bruflat has now seen both sides of this world: what life would be like with her father and what life can be like now with her dad.
"It would have been absolute hell if I had my biological father in my life, but that does not go to say that the fathers that are fighting to be involved in their kids' lives, that doesn't have any precedence on the fact that there are men that will step up and take care of their kids and be the role models that their children need," Bruflat said.
Bruflat says that if her step-father had been involved in her life 10 years ago, his parental influence would've offered a different life as a teenager, one that she can look back on with no regret knowing she had a dad to support her.