When to tell him...

Andrea - posted on 02/22/2015 ( 7 moms have responded )

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Needing some advice. Quick back story. My husband's ex was a whore and cheated on him and got pregnant by some guy. She didn't tell my husband until the little boy was 4 and she had already determined who the father was. The mother of this sweet boy is a drug addict and so is the bio father. My step son has severe abandonment issues from his mother due to the fact that she just left them after she confessed about cheating and she comes in and out of their lives when it's convenient for her. Anywho, since my husband and I got married, my step son has also been acting out about that. All of this to lead to my husband not wanting to tell him about him not being his bio dad. My step son is now 11. My husband wonders at what point you tell a child that he is not really yours... Especially when he is deeply emotionally scarred from already having one absent parent. Any suggestions?

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Jill - posted on 02/24/2015

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WOW! I don't envy you and your husband the situation you are facing. While I was not abandoned by both parents, I was abandoned by one (my bio-dad) and I can tell you that I never wondered about him until I was in my late teens (almost 19). I had phone contact with him until I was about 10 or 11, but I never met him until I was 22 (what a waste of time!). My parents split when I was 2. He never tried to visit the four of us even once, only the occasional phone call when he promised big, expensive gifts and then never sent them. I don't know if he used addictive substances.

Given my own memories, I don't think your step-step son is old enough to process this situation and he sounds like he needs some serious confidence building and critical thinking skills before you drop a bomb like that one. As a person with abandonment issues (in addition to my dad, my brothers were kidnapped for a time by him when I was too little to understand why they left me behind-they were found and brought back), I can tell you the only thing that counters abandonment fears is confidence and self-esteem.

Is there any way you can spend some real time helping the boy develop rock solid confidence and self esteem and teach him critical thinking skills before you tell him the truth. Even if you wait a year or two and work on these things before you tell him, he will likely benefit. Plus it will help him in so many other areas of his life like anxiety, depression, anger, etc.

With regards to the fact that you are not the legal guardians, I think sometimes it is better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. If the courts get involved, then you will be forced to tell the boy before he may be ready. Of course, if someone intervenes against your will (like the bio-mom or bio-dad or another blood family member), then you will have the option taken away from you, but until then, I would just love the boy and do your best to meet his needs if you are ready, willing and able, kind of like really generous foster parents. If your willingness to provide care ever changes, then, of course, you need to find a blood family member to take the boy. When the boy is old enough to process the information and once he has developed the skills and internal strength to deal with the knowledge, then you can approach the courts to do an adoption if you and the child want to go that route.

Good luck!

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Raye - posted on 02/24/2015

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Andrea, the longer he waits, the more the boy will be hurt and confused by learning the truth. There is never a "perfect time" where he will magically understand. It should be done sooner rather than later.

If your husband is content providing a home and stability for this child, then he should look into adopting him. Either way, he should sit the boy down and say that he is glad to have him in his life and he wants to continue to be a father-figure to him, but that he is not the biological father. Explain that his mother made a mistake but don't go into too much detail. Let him know that the boy is his son in his heart even if not by blood. Let him know that being a father is more about love and being involved with raising a child and not only about who shares his DNA. Let him know that nothing needs to change and he is still welcome to live with you.

He may need counseling to help him get through both the abandonment of his mother and also the shock of learning his "dad" is not his true father.

Andrea - posted on 02/23/2015

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He has communication with his mother (currently) she's off an on. His mother has communication with the father, who is about to be put in jail for some drug dealings.

Ev - posted on 02/23/2015

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He needs to know now for nothing more than medical needs if he does not have a relationship with his parents. If there are some medical issues in that family makeup that he might have issues with now or later in life....he needs to know and you need to know.

Andrea - posted on 02/23/2015

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All great questions. But basically the child's mom has been off and on drugs for years and she voluntarily left them. The bio dad doesn't want anything to do with it. So basically, there is no legal boundaries set currently (WHICH I KNOW COULD TURN INTO A HUGE MESS) ... Basically my husband has raised him as his son thus far and he sees him as his own. I personally would have disclosed this info a long time ago but I was not with my husband at the time. So now.... He is 11... And emotionally a wreck.... When is the right time?!

Ev - posted on 02/23/2015

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Outside of telling his child who his father really is, how is it that you two still have legal custody of said child?

As for telling him about his parents, he should have been told long ago and had some sort of counseling as well. To keep this information from a child that is not even your husband's is quit....uncalled for. Why is he still raising this kid unless he has legal guardianship? I am confused how you two still have this child.

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