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#1 of 18 Old 06-14-2010, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So my dh has two children from a previous relationship, he was never married to their mother, but they carry his name. Their mother is an unreliable person, has alcohol issues, has abandoned them...She moved in with her mother and moved out without the kids two weeks later when they were about 4 and 11, they have lived with her mother ever since. They are now 12 and almost 20. Dh has a distant relationship with them, he would like to be closer but doesn't know how. Especially with his daughter, she is very busy with her equestrian pursuits, and the grandmother isn't very communicative.

Part of the problem is, his daughter is not his biological daughter. She doesn't know this. The older she gets, the more obvious it is gets,( she is the younger child.) My husband is of Polish descent, her bio-dad is Turkish, she is dark skinned, and looks like nobody on either side of the family. My husband would like to tell her the truth at some point, or at least have a test done, but is being headed off by the grandmother, who feels that it would damage her in some way to be told the truth. I think that her grandmother purposely limits his contact with her, not sure why.

I feel that it is wrong to keep this information from her, and I feel that their already distant relationship is going to be broken if she figures out the truth on her own. Also, for medical reasons she should know. It would have been much easier to tell her from the beginning, but now she is 12, a very vulnerable age, and it would probably be better to wait.

What would you do in this situation? What should I tell my daughter when she gets older? What should dh do? I am looking for people who have been in similar situations to give me their feedback on what happened when they were told the truth, or whether they figured it out on their own, and how they handled it. I am not trying to damage my husband's relationship with his daughter, only trying to figure out how she will react when she learns the truth, and how to work with her grandmother to facilitate their relationship, because I feel that she has purposely made it difficult for him to see his daughter.

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#2 of 18 Old 06-14-2010, 06:16 PM
 
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This is not going to be good news for his daughter, which may be why her grandmother wants to protect her. However, at this point, she is an adult. As you say, she has a right to know- for medical reasons, and because she's probably wondering by now. It will be hard for her to hear, but I agree with your dh. It's not her grandmother's place to protect her that way anymore, though I'm sure she's like a mama bear with them, after what they've been through.

Sorry, I assumed that you were talking about the older child- the younger one is a different matter, because she's potentially more vulnerable because of her age. Maybe she's the kind of kid who can handle it, but that's an awful lot of parental abandonment and "who do I belong to anyway" issues for a kid to deal with. Probably especially at twelve.

Could you clarify which kid you're talking about?

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#3 of 18 Old 06-14-2010, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry, The daughter is the younger. She has had abandonment issues in the past. I am not sure if it would help or hurt to know the truth. I was a fan of telling her when she was younger, now it is a bigger deal. The grandmother would rather not tell her at all. It is generally the practice in that family to keep secrets. I do plan on telling my daughter the truth, eventually, like when she is an adult, unless the other daughter is told the truth sooner.

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#4 of 18 Old 06-14-2010, 07:12 PM
 
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Have you weighed out the positives versus the negatives of telling her. What would be the upside and the downside of telling her now? I think you and your husband and the grandmother should all talk about this. Why would you want to wait until your daughter is an adult to tell her but think it is a good time now to tell the 12 year old? I'm just curious as to the thought process.

Why do the three of you live in a different state from his children? That makes it REALLY difficult to have a relationship much less be a father. Has he always kind of been on the sidelines with these two kids?

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#5 of 18 Old 06-14-2010, 07:23 PM
 
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What do you hope to accomplish by telling this girl that her dad isn't her dad? Does the bio dad want anything to do with her? I'm guessing not, or this wouldn't be an issue right now. 12 years old is such a vulnerable age, and to take away the little bit of dad she has right now just seems mean. I know YOU don't see it as taking away her dad, but chances are she will perceive it as a rejection.

As for medical reasons: her Grandma knows the score. Her Grandma takes her to the doctor. If anything comes up that's relevant, it can be dealt with then. But I would guess that even Grandma doesn't know the medical history of the bio dad, in which case the medical reasons argument becomes moot.

Now she might want to know about her genetic heritage, she might want to meet her biological family. And maybe they'd want to meet her. But she can't make those decisions until she's older. So why tell her now? Tell her later, when she's an adult and can process the information with maturity.

As for what you should tell your daughter? My vote is nothing...not until you apprise the first daughter of the situation. It sounds like your daughter could go a long time without meeting her sort of half sister anyway.
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#6 of 18 Old 06-14-2010, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The reason I would wait to tell my daughter is because I wouldn't want her to blurt it out by accident if the other daughter hasn't been told. Yes, my husband has been sidelined from his other kids for quite awhile. He used to live a few blocks away and still only saw his daughter maybe once a month, his son about once a week. The grandmother has been trying to get rid of him for years. He calls and calls, they don't answer the phone. He leaves messages, they don't call him back. He makes plans, they break them at the last minute, or, if he does get to see her, they basically ignore him until he goes away.

we moved for financial reasons. There are no jobs for my husband there. We live about 2 hours away now. He has tried and tried to get his kids for a visit, but has only had them once in the four years he has lived here. He tries to see them every time we go back. He travels to her equestrian events when he finds out where and when they are.

I know she will come to him someday with questions, or she will completely shut him out for lying to her for her entire life, it's really not far from that now. (Who knows, maybe she already suspects?) I don't want that to happen. I have done a lot of research on the subject, and it points to telling the truth. I know from my perspective, I would want to know.

Frankly, I feel that if the truth were to come out, it might heal the family somewhat, since there is always an underlying tension. I think it would be a really good idea for everyone to sit down and clear the air. I agree that since the truth hasn't been told from the beginning, that it would be better to wait until she is older.

My husband is not the perfect father. He knows that when his ex left those kids at her mother's he should have gone right over and picked them up. He has made a lot of mistakes, and he knows it. Now we are dealing with the consequences.- the distancing of his kids, the lies, the guilt he feels, etc.

Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it.

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#7 of 18 Old 06-14-2010, 08:22 PM
 
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I know she will come to him someday with questions, or she will completely shut him out for lying to her for her entire life, it's really not far from that now. (Who knows, maybe she already suspects?) I don't want that to happen. I have done a lot of research on the subject, and it points to telling the truth. I know from my perspective, I would want to know.

Frankly, I feel that if the truth were to come out, it might heal the family somewhat, since there is always an underlying tension.
I think she needs to know. I don't know the best way to handle that, but I know she needs to know. The sooner she knows the better, IME. I found out when I was 25 that the man I thought was my bio-dad was in fact my adoptive-dad and it changed my life....for better and for worse in some ways. Even the "bad" stuff that came along with me knowing was worth finding out. I really wish my family had told me when I was younger, I feel like it would have answered so many of my questions growing up (why didn't I look like my cousins, like my sister did.....why were some people surprised upon meeting me that I was his dd?)

I edited this down to get a lot of my personal stuff out that didn't necessarily offer anything to this situation - I don't know how I would have felt if my dad would have been the one to break the news to me by himself, without my mom there, especially if he and I weren't on decent terms. I do think her grandma owes it to her to tell her.
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#8 of 18 Old 06-14-2010, 08:40 PM
 
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You should stay out of it.

You're right: if there's already distance, it won't help for the daughter to figure out this isn't even her "real" father. But how would it be different if her distant father made a point of telling her he's not even her "real" father? The damage would be the same. Worse, potentially, if your husband angers the grandmother, who encourages or forces the daughter to cut off contact with him.

You also need to consider that the grandmother - while you may disagree with her - is the one who has raised these children for, what, a decade? Your husband could have fought for custody when his ex-wife abandoned them, but he didn't. Normally, one expects a grandparent to defer to the parent's wishes about how to raise the child, but in this case it is the grandmother who deserves the deference.

You've given no compelling reason why the daughter needs to know. Does she have an actual medical condition that makes it urgent? Plenty of adopted kids, or kids with poor family connections get through life just fine without a detailed medical history. Based on what you've described, getting along with the grandmother and finding non-confrontational ways of getting closer to the girls sounds much more important than insisting on revealing this factoid.

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#9 of 18 Old 06-15-2010, 09:57 AM
 
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What about the older brother? He's a full 8 years older. Does he know? Perhaps he's already told his sister.
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#10 of 18 Old 06-15-2010, 10:28 AM
 
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I don't think it's your place to tell her.

The research you've read doubtless refers to children who live with their parent full-time (or at least have frequent visitation). There is nothing good that can come out of telling a 12yo that her dad--that she has barely seen in years--isn't her real dad. Why hurt her? Her dad isn't a part of her daily life, so it's only going to be seen as justification for why he's not there or as an excuse to pull further away. Don't do it.

More importantly, her dad is so far out of the picture that he doesn't have a right to tell her this information. Her grandmother is her guardian, and she says no. Imagine that you adopted a child. How would you feel if you weren't ready to tell her that she was adopted, but someone she barely knew told her anyway because they thought it was "for her own good"? It wouldn't be their place, and it's not yours here, either.
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#11 of 18 Old 06-15-2010, 10:34 AM
 
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You can't predict how the child will respond. It is similar to finding out one is adopted, I guess. I have known other people in similar situations. One told her son when he was 9 (he knew the bio-dad as a "family friend) and another--I'm not sure when she told her child--less than 12 or so. And it didn't affect her relationship with the man who was her legal dad. She is now 17 and never appeared to have issues with it.

Personally, I would want to know and I would want to tell. If she looks so different, she may wonder about it anyway.

I wonder if Bio-dad knows and what he thinks. The girl may or may not want to establish contact.

Sure is complicated...hope it works out well for all involved.

BTW--not all Turks have dark skin! My baby's Turkish father is dark, has that mediterranean look, black hair, olive skin, but 2 siblings are fair skinned, but with brown eyes.
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#12 of 18 Old 06-15-2010, 04:31 PM
 
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You should stay out of it.

You're right: if there's already distance, it won't help for the daughter to figure out this isn't even her "real" father. But how would it be different if her distant father made a point of telling her he's not even her "real" father? The damage would be the same. Worse, potentially, if your husband angers the grandmother, who encourages or forces the daughter to cut off contact with him.

You also need to consider that the grandmother - while you may disagree with her - is the one who has raised these children for, what, a decade? Your husband could have fought for custody when his ex-wife abandoned them, but he didn't. Normally, one expects a grandparent to defer to the parent's wishes about how to raise the child, but in this case it is the grandmother who deserves the deference.

You've given no compelling reason why the daughter needs to know. Does she have an actual medical condition that makes it urgent? Plenty of adopted kids, or kids with poor family connections get through life just fine without a detailed medical history. Based on what you've described, getting along with the grandmother and finding non-confrontational ways of getting closer to the girls sounds much more important than insisting on revealing this factoid.
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#13 of 18 Old 06-15-2010, 04:58 PM
 
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Are you hoping that DH and his DD will break ties?

If not, I really don't understand why you are pushing your DH to do something like this *now*, esp. when he doesn't have custody and hasn't really persued things very hard it doesn't sound like. Does he pay child support? I'm going to assume not--is that why he is scared (and probably rightly so) that g-ma will forbid him any contact if he flagrantly goes against her wishes?

What proof do you have, paternity wise, other than guesses? Do you have a genetic test? Are you willing to pay for one?

Sometimes people who are burdened with something like this want to just unload to get it off their chest, esp. if they are resentful towards the people who insist on the secret (like the grandmother). Honestly, I think you should back off--it's not your place to begin with. I do think though, that if your DH has enough backbone he should tell g-ma that while he will respect her wishes as the guardian for this child, once she turns 18 or if she ever asks he will be honest with her that he SUSPECTS that he is not her bio dad.

I guess I question why you want to involve yourself in this, since if there is any blowback you are going to be the one who gets the majority of the fecal matter from the oscillating device blown your way if your daughter lets it slip or it's perceived that you're the person pulling the strings behind this. Regardless of whether or not his sperm was involved it seems that he is either on her birth certificate or acted as her dad. As an adoptee I am DISGUSTED by people who do not tell their children from the start that they are adopted--because the truth ALWAYS comes out and it's really crappy if it's a suprise to the sole innocent party in the arrangement...the kid. But that is on DH. And grandma. And mom. Your DH could have asked for a paternity test at the time of the divorce--he didn't. He could have shared this info openly while spending time with his kids--he didn't. So don't blame grandma for this all--the blunt truth is your DH had plenty of opportunity to do this along the way and chose differently.

And you have been "pushing" him for 7 years, and he has told you no? I'm sorry, but grandma has nothing to do with it. And I'm wondering why it is even more important to you now. If you've lived with it for 7 years, surely 6 more isn't that big of a deal. As for what will happen--well, from your description she doesn't have much of a relationship with her dad now, and both parents have kind of abandoned her. It's not surprising that she doesn't really have much time for him now that she's old enough. When she finds out, and she most certainly will, at least your DH will be able to say, "I've wanted to share this since the beginning, but also needed to respect gma's wishes because I was afraid she might not let me see you. I'm really sorry that my cowardice might have caused you additional pain. I really don't care about whether or not it was my sperm that helped create you, I've loved you since the moment I met you and always will. If you need space, then I understand. If you are angry with me, I can understand and respect that too. I'm here for any information I have that you want, and you're my kid no matter what. I'm sorry that I didn't do what I should have done in the beginning."
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#14 of 18 Old 06-15-2010, 06:42 PM
 
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I think it would be different if your husband fought for and got custody of the children and THEN told them the truth. Sort of like a "I love you so much I want you to be with me, I don't care about the biology" type situation. But I too have to question your motivations. Your husband already has a distant relationship with this child. If he truly wants to be closer, why would he tell her something that would damage even a strong bond?

I guess my question is, in your best case scenario what will happen if he tells her?
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#15 of 18 Old 06-15-2010, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Please, let me clarify-I am NOT pushing him to tell her now. I am NOT going to tell her myself. I think at this point it is better to wait for her to come to him. No, he is not paying support. He was, but the mother backed off, I think because she was afraid that he would question paternity, which he did have the chance to do, but chose not to at that time. I am in complete agreement that if he told her now it would ruin what little relationship they have...I am not trying to be selfish, I am trying to be fair to this child. I think her mother has done her a great disservice by lying to her. It makes me sick to my stomach. Yes, my husband made LOTS of mistakes, and he carries alot of guilt in his heart. there are reasons for this, but I am not going to make excuses for him. He was a very immature person when he made these decisions and now he is living with the consequences. He is concerned that she will ask him what happened, and worries about how to explain the circumstances to her.

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#16 of 18 Old 06-15-2010, 10:42 PM
 
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If she should happen to ask him straight out, then yes I believe he should tell her the truth. Obviously she would know something about it if she even thinks to ask.

But there is no way that he should bring up this subject with her. Honestly, he hardly knows her, and he wouldn't be the one that would have to deal with the aftermath of this revelation.
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#17 of 18 Old 06-19-2010, 05:39 PM
 
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For better or for worse, the grandmother is the parent in this situation.

Later on in life, your DH can beg admittance into their lives, make it clear that he loves both children and doesn't care about biology, and ask to have the role of grandfather to their children. That's pretty much all he has the right to do. He failed them horribly. It's their choice, as adults, to let him make amends or tell him to take a long walk off a short pier.
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#18 of 18 Old 06-19-2010, 05:41 PM
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Jeannine speaks my mind...

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