Ask Amy: DNA Discoveries Make (and Break) Families
Sometimes the past never really goes away
Dear Amy: I have been with my husband for 40 years.
I thought we had a great life together, however, I just found out that he has a biological son who is only two months younger than our youngest son!
The child’s mother put him up for adoption, which my husband claims he knew nothing about until months after the adoption was done.
What really hurts is that he cheated on me with this same woman when I was pregnant with our first child.
He says that she meant nothing to him (just sex), and that he always loved me, and that since it happened 30 years ago, I should just move past it.
I found out about all of this a few months ago when his son contacted my daughter through a DNA matching site.
Since then, all I can think about is that our entire life was a lie.
How do I get past this?
– Heartbroken in PA
Dear Heartbroken: Your husband does not get to declare this story over, just because he wants it to be.
In addition to his infidelity, he fathered a child, knew about the child, and seems to have done nothing to help the child or the child’s mother. This is quite a “tell” about your husband’s deeper character, and you have the right to question his character now.
DNA matching has dragged all of us into a new age of discovery, and quite often these DNA disclosures force us to face uncomfortable facts about ourselves and the people we love.
“Move on” is not acceptable. It won’t help you. Your husband should work a lot harder to go through this with you. Then you would have the opportunity to move on together, reclaiming your shared marital history in the process.
A counselor could help you to unpack and process this challenging truth. Your husband should respect your need to handle this in your own way.
Your children will also have questions and concerns, and their father should be brave enough to face these questions honestly. I hope your family will also eventually find a way to be open and inclusive with this newly discovered biological son.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2021 by Amy Dickinson