Dear Amy: I gave birth to a child in the ’70s. I was 16 at the time, and for all these years I thought I knew who my daughter’s biological father was. He was not involved in her life and made it known he did not want to be. I married and my husband adopted her. Our daughter knows all the details.
Yesterday, I found out via a DNA test who her real biological father is. It is not who I thought it was. I had no idea, and I am stunned. This person passed away 10 years ago. I confessed everything to my daughter, right away.
How do I get through this? I have beat myself up for so long over this out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and now I find this out.
What do I say to the other “father,” who I have not had contact with in 40 years? Do I say anything?
— No Words
Dear No Words: I think it’s important to recognize that you have done so much that is absolutely right. You and your husband raised your daughter. He adopted her. He is her dad. You have always been honest with her regarding her DNA parentage, and you are being honest, now.
It would be wise for you to find a professional counselor to help you and your family navigate through this. Some of the layers of this situation are intensely personal for you, but this also has wider consequences for your husband, and (of course) your daughter.
The National Association of Social Workers has helpful links to databases of social workers and therapists: Check their website at Helpstartshere.org. Many professional counselors will connect with you virtually.
You have already been brave about this and have notified your daughter about her DNA parentage. It is hard to know how this will affect her, but you should continue to be truthful and transparent.
Yes, you should contact the person you always assumed was her biological father. I gather that he never financially contributed to your daughter’s care (if he had, it would bring up a further complication), but he could be harboring his own complicated feelings of guilt and sadness about his long-ago rejection. (Rejecting a mistaken-daughter is not appreciably different from rejecting an actual-daughter, but all the same he should be told the truth.)
Your daughter might be interested in connecting with some of her bio-relatives, and when the dust surrounding this settles, I hope you all find peace, love, and resolution regarding the choices you have made in your life.
Dear Amy: My great uncle (age 90, no wife or children) recently asked me to help him out by taking on power of attorney and oversee his care. He told me I will inherit everything (house, accounts etc.). It could be a lot when all is said and done (over half a million dollars).
Here’s my dilemma. I have two siblings, but he is only leaving everything to ME! My siblings know about this. He told me he chose me because for the last decade (and more) my wife has remembered to send him a Christmas card, and my siblings have not.
My mom (my father died) says I NEED to split everything equally three ways, OR ELSE!
My wife says I should do what I want and maybe not be so “forthcoming,” concerning what is going on.
What do you think?
Dear J: I’m with your wife. She is obviously the more thoughtful of the two of you, and you should pay attention to her.
You are agreeing to take on a huge responsibility regarding your uncle’s life. This man’s life is in your hands, and you owe it to him to do your very best to see to his needs for the rest of his life. You should set up a meeting with your uncle and his lawyer.
Your uncle’s savings should be used to pay for his care. This can be very expensive. If there is any money left after his death, then you will have earned it.
Rise to this challenge. Take it seriously. Do a good job. And do not discuss this with your mother.
Dear Amy: I loved your response to “Befuddled Guest” who was faced with a vaguely familiar person at a dinner party only to learn later that this person is transgender.
Thank you for this: “Names. We have them for a reason.”
When you know someone’s name, you don’t need to worry about the rest.
— Big Fan
Dear Fan: Exactly.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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