Should you tell your child his "father" is not his "biological" father?

Leann - posted on 07/08/2010 ( 32 moms have responded )

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Before I met my husband now of almost 10 years......I met a man while I was going through a scary time in my life.....my father had been on life support for 3 months. I was an emotional person at that time. We got pregnant, and he left. He went back home to try to work it out with his daughter's mother. (which I knew all about) We both made irresponsible decisions during that 2 month "relations". He came back when our son was 2 months for a few days, then again when our son was 8 months old. Which was the time I had met my husband. I knew he would never be able to take care of our son like I wanted. So I made the decisions to go ahead with the relation of my now husband. Then four years later my husband and I got pregnant and my husband adopted my son before our daughter was born. And before he started kindergarten, so there would be no questions as to why he had a different last name. My husband and I have always talked openely about the what if's and when to tell, or not to tell. My son had asked many times "why is my eye color different" we always made up a story that's how God made you. Well now our son is 9 1/2 and is around kids with two sets of parents, starting to go through puberty. I'm affraid he will find out or figure out on his own, and I dont want the circle of trust to be broken between he and I. I hadn't been able to find his bio father for years, and now have found him. (I haven't talked to him), but just found him. I dont know if he has grown up in 10 years or not.....I know that his daughter is now 12, so my son also has another half sister. The question is do I or don't I tell, and how much should I say, and should I contact the bio father to see if he is interested or not. I have started to see a counselor to help me through this. I dont want to make a decision and regret it later, I'm trying to think this out fully before doing or not doing anything I might regret. I would love feedback on this. Espeacially if someone could relate to this, that would be great also. Thank you!

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Kimberly - posted on 07/08/2010

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I'd tell him what happened. Don't tell him the story from your perspective, just the facts.

1. Mommy and Daddy Love you
2. Mommy had you before she met Daddy
3. Daddy loves you and you are his no matter what

Nothing else matters. Let him ask questions, and remember not to let personal feelings cloud your responses. Explain that the biological father and you were not meant to be together, but you were meant for his daddy. Negativity will only confuse him.

Kelly - posted on 07/26/2011

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Yes I would. I found out when I was 14 that the man i thought was my father wasn't. I felt betrayed and alone. I kinda knew something was up becuase i didnt look like anyone in my family and asked many times if i was adopted. My step-sister was the one who told me the truth and I couldnt look at my so-called parents after that. I have been lucky that ive met my bio-father and have a great relationship with him. He never fought for me because he believed that i was best off with my egg donor as i call her now. Be honest with your child. Its hard to find that kind of news out but it will be soo much better coming from you and not having them find out from someone else

[deleted account]

My son's biological donor and I were never married. I gave multiple opportunites to the Bio (2 years!) to be involved, take a stand, support and otherwise and he did not do it.

I made the decision to move on and not allow him to bounce in and out of my son's life ~ whenever it was convenient for him. I ceased contact with him. A child doesnt need constant turmoil and uncertainty in their lives.

I have talked to my son (who is now 4) about his biological -but havent used the term 'Daddy' to describe him; I call him by his name. I always said "daddy...is a special name"

My husband (whom I have now been with a little over a year) wants to adopt my son. He has 2 children of his own, whom he takes exceptional care of. He is a hard working, loving, patient man. The true definition of a Daddy.

I believe in honesty...because no matter how hard the truth is to swallow sometimes, it makes us a stronger, better person.

God bless you.

Lissa - posted on 07/08/2010

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I found out my father was not my biological father when I was 12 or 13 and not in the most pleasant of ways. It turned out pretty much everyone knew except me, one of my closest friends had overheard her parents talk about it but didn't know how to tell me. It was awful I felt betrayed by everyone who knew because of the lies. In my opinion the truth will out eventually and it's better coming from you now than later. In my case my biological father was dead but I did have siblings that it turned out I already knew. To be honest I wasn't interested in having another family, I spent a little time with them for a few months but that was it, more out of interest than anything else. You are your sons family that wont change but he may want to get in touch with his biological fathers family and this shouldn't be denied to him. I would say from experience tell him now, kids aren't daft I knew there was something different about me from a very young age I used to ask if I was adopted all the time.

Wanda - posted on 07/13/2010

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I agree with Amy 100%! My story is a little longer than most, but I hope it helps you.....

I had my daughter at 25, and her bio dad wanted out when I was 3 months pregnant. That was the last time I ever saw him. He has never tried to contact her or me. He had a chance to meet her once when she was around 2 or 3, but he didn't take it. After that I found out he actually married some girl who already had a daughter of her own. Nice, huh?
Anyway, when my girl was 18 months, I met this other guy. At that point all I cared about was finding the best dad for her, even if I wasn't totally in love with the guy. And that's what i got. Charles and I got married a few months after she turned 2, and she had started calling him daddy on her own. But things between him and I didn't go very well. We were only married for over a year. Then he moved out of state. He begged to stay in her life, and I worried about when he finds someone else or gets married again or had kids of his own if he would still want to stay in my childs life. My daughter is now 8, and yesterday Charles flew in to pick her up and take her back to where he lives to see all his family and spend some time together before school starts. his family still call her and consider her their granddaughter, and of course, Charles is still her daddy. He has always been there for her like that. He never adopted her, and he doesn't help out financially (no obligation) unless I ask him.
I remarried when my daughter was 5 to Peter. We had met the year before. He knows Charles isn't her real dad and knows the real story. Of course, my daughter knew Peter wasn't her dad, but she started calling him dad too. When she was 6 there was an incident that made me realize she needs to know the truth about Charles. It worried me beyond belief! But we talked to a councelor, and i talked to Charles too. So the three of us (Charles over the phone) sat down and talked to her. I told her that I had her before I met her daddy Charles. That her "real" dad wasn't ready to be a daddy, so that's why he wasn't with us. She asked for his name, but wasn't mad. She asked why he didn't want her, and what I tell her to this day (she still asks once in a while) is that he didn't want ME. That he didn't get to meet her bc he was scared of becoming a dad. But we all reassured her how much we all love her, and I told her how lucky she is to have 2 daddies that love her as much as they do. Charles explained to her that even though not biologically, she is his daughter and will always be no matter what. She calls him her real dad.
With Peter, she gets sad sometimes that he's isn't her real dad. Bc he has 2 kids of his own who live with us every other week, and him and I have a son and are expecting a daughter in a month. So she sometimes talks about how she is the only one who isn't his. THAT is something I can't do anything about. but one time she got this idea about her and Peter putting ketchup on their fingers and then rubbing it together (pretending it was their blood), and with that little "ceremony" it was like she became his real daughter, bc they now have the "same blood".
Her bio dad will never be in the picture, i'm pretty sure. I never tried contacting him, and I'm sure he won't either. My daughter did ask me if she could meet him, and I told her it's been so many yrs I'd have to look for him. But that if she still wants to meet him when she's older I'd make it happen. I'm hoping she'll get over it!!
I don't think contacting bio dads is a good idea, especially when it's more likely that they won't be there for them or accept them like they should. I think that makes a child feel even more rejected. I always said that if her bio dad wants to meet her I'd say no, but if SHE wants to meet him -again, when she's older- i'd help her find him for HER sake.

Sorry my stroy was so long. I just wanted you to know you are not alone out there, and there are many different scenarios. In the end, however, I think it's all about what's best for YOUR child. Not the dads or the mom. Good luck. Be calm when you tell him though, and I would do it with your husband there, so that he can also tell him how much he loves him and how he thinks of him as his own. He can maybe say he lucked out by being able to be his dad....idk.

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32 Comments

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~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/21/2011

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Leann, obviously I didn not read your post before I wrote my response. Good for you guys. Let us know how he is doing.

Gwen - posted on 07/21/2011

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Thanks for the update. It is wonderful that things are going well. Just be prepared to support your son when the "honeymoon phase" wears off if bio dad decides to drop out of the picture again. Approach the whole situation with caution.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/21/2011

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It always hurts my heart in these situations. I really don't think kids should be lied to about their biological parent. My sisters kid is 16 and still doesn't know. It is gonna be so painful when he finds out that is "father" is not biological....but that his brother is.

I have always known that my "bio" father was not in the picture, and that I have had step parents. I was aware of even why. I really feel for the proper development of what a healthy relationship is, they should know. The sooner you tell him, the easier he will be able to deal with it. Good luck, I really hope you tell him.....it would be so much easier to not live with that lie.

[deleted account]

I think you should be honest with your son. I think lying will end up in tears and he may blame you for lying and in a way preventing him from spending time with his biological father.

Angie - posted on 07/26/2010

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I don't think it's ever wise to omit such important parts of a child's life. Chances are he's going to find out at some point - a family member might let it slip. He may do the math and realize that he was born before you ever met his daddy (as opposed to his father who physically created him). If that ever happens, he will wonder:
1. Why didn't they tell me
2. What other secrets are they keeping from me
3. I wonder if they didn't tell me because they don't want me to know my father
Your son is old enough to know that you and his father couldn't create a relationship that was healthy. He should know that his daddy made a decision to become his dad and that you both love him unconditionally. Good luck!

JuLeah - posted on 07/26/2010

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I know a person who works with older folks, assessing their mental state, settling their estate ..... part of her job is to 'interview' or get to know all the family members. She is amazed by what people are willing to tell her. Secrets that folks promised to take to the grave, things they have never told anyone ... they tell her 'don't tell (this person or that) becuase they were not meant to know, but ...."

She says in so many many families, folks that think they are full brother and sister, are not. Folks have been told this person is their Aunt or Uncle, but really it is their bio parent. Folks have been adopted and never told. She said it is amazing what people think they know about their families .....

So, the model of two parents and 2.5 children and a dog has never really been a part of our culture, except on TV.

We all have messy families, cause humans are messy by nature.

It is about loving people/ standing with people/ hanging in through good times and bad ..... some say we are all related if ya go back far enough .... so maybe we are all one big family - if that is the case I will be expecting a few more gifts on my birthday next year and I thank you all in advance for your thoughtful gesture.

[deleted account]

Actually unless he asks then don't bother. In his eyes the dad he has now is his father. If you are really concerned about it then sit him down and tell him a "story" about a woman who made stupid mistakes but with stupid mistakes wonderful things happened in her life. He will figure it out that way. Then answer his questions honestly and openly. Oh and make sure not to bash the biological father or anyone else. Be very very diplomatic.

Patricia - posted on 07/26/2010

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I BELIEVE YOUR CHILD SHOULD BE TOLD USUALLY10-12 IS A GOOD AGE BECAUSE KIDS HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THESE THINGS THAN WE GIVE THEM CREDIT FOR. LET HIM KNOW THAT YOUR CURRENT HUSBAND MAY NOT BE HIS BIO-DAD BUT HE HAS RAISED HIM AS IF HE WERE AND THAT SHOWS HOW MUCH HE LOVES HIM. SAYING BAD THINGS ABOUT HIS BIO-DAD ISN'T A GOOD IDEA BUT FOCUS ON THE GOOD IN HIS LIFE AND LET HIM DRAW HIS OWN CONCLUSIONS(and he will) AND WHEN THE TIME COMES HE CAN DECIDE IF HE WANTS TO TRY TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BIO-DAD.

[deleted account]

Leann, I havet read all of the posts so pls forgive me if I am repeating- i know that can be annoying. I think you should tell him ASAP- not only for the emotional reasons but if there is a medical emergency and you need to tell him in a hurry or you need an organ or blood donation from the bio dad that would be the worst way for him to find out. I agreewith Kimberley that you dont really need to give him the details. I cant honestly advise you as to whether or not to contact bio-dad, maybe let him decide if he wants to? Either way I think yr a very brave lady to admit to your mistake and I wish you all the best- you clearly have his best interstes at heart. Hugs for you.

JuLeah - posted on 07/25/2010

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I'd say tell him as soon as you can. Any one can donate sperm. A father holds you when you cry. A father puts bandaids on your knee, chases monsters from under your bed, comes to your games ..... Explain, in a way someone his age can understand. This man helped me make you, your father has helped me to raise you.

He will follow your lead, so if you have shame, he will. If you have embaressment, he will too. You don't want him to get the idea that you view that choice as a mistake, or him as a mistake.

If you think of this in terms of larger extended family, as adding to your family, he might too.

You have a chance maybe to meet your son's half sister :)

I have seen AMAZING things happen when people come together in love and with good intention.

The choices you made were not bad or wrong. It was what needed to happen for your son to be the person he was meant to be.

Leann - posted on 07/25/2010

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Update:......We told our son together this weekend. He took it really hard......it's been a couple of days and he is doing better. He asked to speak and see his bio dad and half sister. He has spoke to them on the phone and through many emails already this weekend. It seems to be going ok. I'm really excited....but yet still soaking it all in....I will keep you posted....thank you again for all of everyone's storied and advice.!

Amy - posted on 07/11/2010

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I had a similar situation, I was married and had two girls one was 3, the other a newborn when we split up, my current husband adopted the girls at a very young age, like 4 and 1. Their biological father disappeared for 12 years and to this day is still not responsible enough to be in their lives.

I was scared to death to tell my youngest because she never knew anyone else. When she was about 4, another child told her (she had overheard her parents talking about it). She was very upset that someone would say something like that.

So I just sat down with her and explained to her that her daddy IS her REAL daddy because he's always been there for her and loved her so much and would always be there. And that just because "the other guy" was there when she was conceived, didn't make him a Daddy.

This was the best I could explain to a 4 year old, and she was okay with that, and has been okay with that ever since, she's 16 now, and her "biological father" started to come back around (about 3 years ago) and she wants nothing to do with him.

It's a tough one, but I think you should talk to your son before he finds out from someone else that way he will know the circumstances (appropriate for his age of course) and not be wondering about it and dreaming up things that could be worse.

One other thing.........I do NOT recommend contacting the biological father! He has already proven he doesn't want any part of it, and if he tries to come into your child's life and then just up and leaves again, it could really hurt you son. However, if and when your child wants to meet him, then and only then would I "think" about contacting him.

Kim - posted on 07/11/2010

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I personally believe you should tell your son and see what he wants to do. If he wants to meet his biological father then take him to meet him, and if he doesn't want to meet him it's no loss. I'm a step mother to a little boy who life I have been in more than his own mother, so I understand where you're coming from. I also know a few friends who have been in this same situation and have found it better to tell the child and not to lie or extend the truth in any way. 10 is a good age to tell him, and I think that if he is around friends with two sets of parents already he won't take it so badly. But in the end it's up to you and your husband to do what you think is right. I just think it shouldn't be left too long otherwise he won't understand why you kept it from him for so long.
Good luck.

Sherri - posted on 07/10/2010

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He should have been told from day one. It is his right to know such things and would have just grown up knowing. He never would have even questioned it. You need to tell him sooner than later. My son is in the similar situation is biological father wanted nothing to do with him. I met my husband when I was 5 mo's pregnant with him. My now husband signed the birth certificate and everything from day 1 but we still spoke freely in front of my son so he never had a doubt that my husband isn't his biological dad and has always just been fine with it.

Rosie - posted on 07/10/2010

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i feel very strongly children need to know where they come from. my eldest son is not my husbands, his bio-dad left when i was pregnant and hasn't looked back. my husband and i started dating when grant was 18 months, he is now 10. i told him early that he has 2 daddies. daddy chad (my hubby) takes care of him because his daddy that made him, daddy leo, can't take care of him. he's always accepted things as is, and when he asks questions i always answer truthfully.

my husband was lied to about who his biological father was and it INFURIATED him. he overheard a conversation that his mother and step dad were having (yes, the man who played his father for 14 years divorced his mom when he was an infant, and still took care of him after that) about his biological father. he felt betrayed, unworthy, and couldn't understand why the people who claimed to love him most in this world lied to him about who he is and where he came from.

sure, you're child might not ever find out, but every inch of me screams it's the most awful thing to do to a child short of abuse.

Leann - posted on 07/10/2010

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Thank you for all your thoughts ladies.....I hope that all of you who have gone through something like this have been able to find peace. I hope that my son will also be able to get through it. I am goin to go to my counselor this week again....and then I'm trying to plan a weekend trip for just he and I. I will keep you posted!

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/08/2010

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I grew up knowing that my step dad was not my bio father, but I have NEVER met my bio father. I apparently had an opportunity once, and did not find out about it until much later in life. I still regret never meeting him, becouse he has been dead for many years now. A big missed opportunity I always thought. He was not a good man, and I can't blame my mother for protecting me, but I still would have liked the chance. Please tell him...it can mess him up even more later down the line. I speak from experience. It is a hard thing to approach, maybe speak to a couselor about how to deal with the situation. Good luck, I know you are doing what you think is best for him.

Pip - posted on 07/08/2010

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Lies are never a socially accepted things, however having children in the same family with different fathers is accepted. Your son should have always known the truth. You had better say something, as hard as it will be, before someone else does.

Andrea - posted on 07/08/2010

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He should have known from the beginning about his biological father. Tell him now! If he finds out another way he may resent you for keeping it a secret.

Stephanie - posted on 07/08/2010

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my dad told me that a father is the man who brings the child up and is there for them.

Tina - posted on 07/08/2010

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I will have to go through the same thing one day. I hae a stepfather that has been with me since I was like 3 yrs old. But I have always known about my birth father. I understand that u may be a little scared cause my dad was in and out of my life. You will have to tell him oneday. I think you and your husband should sit him down and tell him in a way that he will understand. Also let him know that your husband loves him as much as he loves your daughter. As for calling his dad u never know how thats going to turn out. Cause u cant make anyone do what they need to do. But if his sisters live in the same city or state as you do. It maybe good for him to have a relationship with them. It something to think about just talk to your husband and pray on it. When u do tell him you will have the right words to say.

Brandi - posted on 07/08/2010

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I was 13 when i found out my dad was not my biological dad. I think you should tell your son however I do not recommend contacting your sons bio father. I wish mine had never showed up. I was happy with the dad I have. He raised me from the time I was 3 months old and he will always be my dad. It takes alot more than making a baby to be a dad and it sounds like your son has a dad already. If his bio dad hasnt tried to come into the picture for that many years chances are if you contact him, he may come in and then walk right back out. Just make sure you give him plenty of time to ask questions and most importantly be honest. Dont try to make out like his bio dad is better than he actually is.

Becky - posted on 07/08/2010

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My sister-in-law found out at 13 that she was the result of an affair her mother had with an employer. To this day she believes that was the worst possible time to find out because she was just learning about herself and her body and life...and then found out that "Daddy" wasn't her biological father. In spite of that, however, she still calls "Daddy" her dad. Her biological father is just her "father." She stays in touch with her biological father (and her several half siblings) but never went to live with them or stay with them. He came to her wedding (along with one of her half-sisters) and they're friends on Facebook. Of course it's different for boys and girls, but in my opinion, it's best to tell him earlier before he finds out in a more painful way. You're very wise to realize that if he doesn't find out from you there could be some trust issues.

When I was 12 my parents sat us down (my sisters were 9 and 7) and explained that our dad had been married twice before he met our mom. There were no children from those marriages, but it still weirded us out. To this day it's strange to me to realize my mom was not my dad's first wife, but it doesn't bother me. I know this is different from what your situation is...

You know your son better than anyone else, and know how he might react when given this situation. In my opinion, it's better to tell him now when he's still very much dependent on you than when he's 16 and can hop in the car and disappear for a day or so. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I can't completely relate, but I hope something of what I said helps...

Andrea - posted on 07/08/2010

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Just remember no matter if you tell him now or not you have to one day. You know your son better than anyone else do you think at this age he would be able to handle the information? Are you prepared for family counseling if he not? As far as how much you should say I think at this age it about the basic information of it and any other question he might have. If ask question then answer them honestly as you can. As far contact him that a hard on. Part of me say yes you should the other no. I think yes you should contact him first because you son might ask to see him and if you have talk to him you will have you have an answer before your son even ask to wheather he want to see him or not.

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