Friday, July 18, 2008

Embrace the Words

Dear Aunt B,

I am a 30 yr old father of a 4 yr old boy. I am very involved in his life. I have not been with his mother since he was born and she is now married. About 2 1/2 yrs ago I had a sexual relationship with my sons mothers step-sister. My sons mother does not know any of this. I haven't talked to the step-sister for at least 2 yrs and a couple days ago she had informed me that her 17 mo old son may have been fathered by me. She is with another man and he has known since the day the child was born due to a DNA test. He has accepted the fact and wants to be the child's dad. They don't want anything from me, they just thought I should know since the child is looking more and more like my son. I am confused what I should do. I feel like I should be there for the child. Another advice column said it would be better for the child if I did nothing and let them be. I just want whats best for the child. Can you help me figure this out?

Dear Reader,

Wow, another advice site told you "it would be better for the child if I did nothing and let them be", huh? I have mixed emotions about all this but I doubt I'd tell you to flat out stay out of it all.

Life can sure be trying, can it not? And it doesn't come with a users manual, does it? For these life altering, life changing decisions, such as this one, there's not much in the way of rules or even a guide to help us. Although your situation is, of course, unique, you are not the first to go through this. Thus, it's important for all parties involved, especially your son, that you make an informed, educated and wise decision. Let's hope it's one which does not come back to bite you in the butt...

I'm sure this is probably one of the hardest decisions you'll ever make. I'm not sure if I can really help you answer this one. I wish I could make this easier for you. I do imagine this is a rather lonely and distressing affair, especially if you go it alone, as it appears you are. What you do have, especially in dire straits such as this, is what I endearingly call, the "small still voice."Only you might hear this Voice, the voice of reason, the voice of your Higher Power. You must listen for It and then listen to It.

It seems to me that you are a reasonable man. It seems that you've weighed things out and in fact only want what's best for the child. Your son seems to be in a good place(I have a good feeling about it all) and it's commendable that a man who is not even his father would choose to raise him as his own. Now, knowing this, it might be something to consider that you sit down with them, if it's possible and etch out a strategy, feel it all. You must let them know that it's not your intent to upset their family unit. You should state that you only want what's best for the child, you would hope things could remain amicable(say this out loud to them) and before it's all said and done, shake the hand of the man who will raise your son.

Yes, the day will come, in the not so distant future...

On the flip side, I'd like you to envision your son, many years from now. Will he wonder why you weren't there? Will there be irreversible damage because you chose to stay out of it all? Will he be able to see that you stayed away with his best interests at heart? I have the answer to this question and you may write me again, if you can't see it or hear it. Selah

You do have the right, given the fact if you are the father, to be a part of your sons life. This is a moral right as well as a legal stand. Maybe consider waiting till he is a bit older and can understand. I do believe it is paramount to his emotional well being for your influence, your imprint, your signature and your voice to be ingrained upon his heart.

This is certainly a gut wrenching situation. I have so much to say and so much more that I want you to think about, questions you need to ask yourself. Can you or will you be able to forgive yourself if you walk away? I think it will plague you all the days of your life.

I would recommend that you sit down with the Mother and the would be Dad, if at all possible and talk about all this. Ask if it is possible/plausible for you to inquire about your sons welfare in continuity? Out and out ask them, if it is their wish for you is to stay out of the scenario? If they tell you that they do in fact want you to stay out, possibly agree until your son is of a certain age of understanding. Now, it's not really fair to all parties for you to come and go as you please, meaning, one day you're not there but magically appear years down the rode. It might be confusing to your son?

The legal ramifications are that if you do walk away without that continuity of inquiry as to your sons welfare, it would be considered as an abandonment issue. It could be held against you. But if you make it clear that you want even limited interaction, it changes the story. You could agree, if it is their wish, to stay for the most part, on the sidelines. But the real question there is can you do this?

Another man will be called "Daddy"by your son. Can you live with this? I do not say this to provoke you. I say it to make you think. See, the ball is in your court still. They've made you aware of your possible fatherhood, for what reasons? Was it out of fairness? Was it so you'd hear it from them first? My point is that I do believe they seem to be reasonable people, for one. Secondly, it seems possible that you were told, quite possibly, to get your permission concerning an allowance, a clear right of way, for this other man to raise your son. I would tend to want to know the reasoning behind it all? You should ask what or why? You do have the right to know. You don't need to even appear as if you are asserting this right but you simply state that you want to know what the plan is? You tell them that you want to do the right thing for them as well as your son and this is the only reason you ask.

My advice to you would be to ask what is their ulterior motive for telling you, as well. Based upon their answer and carefully weighing in your feelings is important. Make it clear that you understand their position but, with the child's best interest at hand, you are willing to step back but not to step out. Make it very clear that you want this window of opportunity open to you and make it even clearer that your intention is not to abuse this.

It should be understood that you are trying your best to be unselfish and only representing the very best of intention, for your son. Tell them that you will make a conscience effort to do what is best for your son as well as his Mother. What should you do or how can you make this happen/work and maintain amicability and a good relationship? Let it be known that you are willing to work with them.

As well, possibly have an open door of communication, even if it's an email address where they can contact you in the event that issues arise. This could be medical, as well as financial issues, so you'd want to keep in touch.

I suppose I've not actually answered your question, have I? I do think this is a situation that merits contemplation, a deep soul searching. But I also feel, with my loyalty to you, that you may write the handbook on how this is handled. It can be simple; You ask that the door of communication between you and the Mother will always be open with that assurance that you will not, as I said before, abuse that right. You let her know that when and if they need you, you will be there.

Finally, if you do decide to step aside, the most important and unselfish thing you could possibly do is to give permission to the fella that will raise your son, to not feel guilt but embrace the words, when your son calls him "Daddy."

I'd ask you to sit down, in a quiet spot and listen for this Voice to advise you. I'd like you to quiet your thoughts, clear your head, take a cleansing breath and ask for guidance. I am here if you need me further...

Keeping It Real,

Aunt Babz

Dear Friend,

This is a tricky situation, and I can see where you are conflicted.

I don’t think anyone is qualified to tell you what the best thing for the child will be, as we have no idea the baring from not knowing of your genetic background, what that can do to a child or an adult mind. It is a very difficult thing to deal with, not knowing who your genetic parents are, and sometimes it is better for a child not to know initially. Sometimes it is better for them to know right from the start. The only one who can answer that is the child, and usually it is too late by then from the time that they can figure out what they need. So I wouldn’t let that make your decision at all. Because as sure as I am breathing, every person in the world wants to know his or her lineage. Even if they choose to ignore it that is something every person wants to know.

But the best thing for a child is always a loving family. And a family is becoming such a variant of dynamics in this world that it isn’t simply a house with a mommy and daddy and kids. It is the bond of love and trust and knowing that the love it there no matter if you live in the same house or countries apart. Family half the time isn’t even genetic-bound, it is that love between people. Family is what is important to a child, not lack of knowledge.

I think for me personally I would figure out how I felt about having a potential child out there in the world that I didn’t know at all or have had no hand in raising. You sound like you are very involved with your first son’s life and love it, could you live knowing you were not a part of this second child’s life? With that, I would likely ask for a paternity test to see if you were the parent of the child and make a choice after being informed. If the child isn’t yours, then I wouldn’t say or do anything, it is a moot case. But if the child is yours, that is a totally different situation.

I don’t think that the mother would have contacted you “just to let you know”. Either her or her husband must have had a guilty conscious about this, and knew that you had a right to choose what to do here. Maybe making an arrangement for the child to know whom you are, and where to find you at all stages in his life is the answer so that the child doesn’t feel abandoned or lost later in life. Maybe it is in joint custody between you and the mother. Maybe it is with visitation. I don’t know what the answer is; only you can decide what you are willing to live with in regards to your children.

You need to decide if having a son that doesn’t know you is okay with you. You need to decide if not being there for him is something you can deal with. Because in the long run this is your life, and you will need to deal with whatever consequences come of your decisions. And you will need to be able to live your life without regret. Figure this question out, and it will unravel the rest.

Good luck with your decision, and let us know how you are.

Brightest Blessings


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