Blood, water and airline miles
January 23, 2010 4:31 AM   Subscribe

I have a biological daughter (Angel), that I know, for certain, is mine. Angel, however, does not know that I exist. How do I remedy this situation?

It was during an affair, many moons ago, that Goldie and I conceived Angel. Goldie passed off Angel as her husbands and apparently he was none the wiser. Fast forward to many moons hence and they are divorced. I'm sure he's paying child support for Angel though.

How do I approach this? Ideally, what I'd like to happen is that Angel get to know me. I don't want to shatter Angel's relationship with her real dad (yes I realize that I was just a donor here), but I would like to get Angel to know me, not as her dad necessarily, just as the "donor", "nice uncle", "strange dude that gives her presents", whatever ... a relationship of some sort. If initiating a relationship would mean I would be paying child support - I would be okay with that too.

Goldie and I haven't spoken about this at all. Actually Goldie hasn't specifically acknowledged that Angel is my daughter in the first place. So, I know that Goldie knows and I'm pretty damn sure that Goldie knows that I know. So really the question is "How do I persuade Goldie to let me get to know Angel?"

Difficulties: They are 1.5k miles away. Angel will be 10 this year. I'm in Texas, they are in Florida.
posted by the giant pill to Human Relations (54 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
What is in the best interest of the child?

That is really the only consideration.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:33 AM on January 23, 2010 [18 favorites]


Goldie and I haven't spoken about this at all. Actually Goldie hasn't specifically acknowledged that Angel is my daughter in the first place.

I don't follow this question. On the one hand you say you are certain that this daughter is yours. On the other hand you assert that the woman with whom you had the affair does not acknowledge that the daughter is yours.

So, which is it here: either the daughter is biologically related to you or not. How do you conclude that she is?

Sorry if I'm not following this but it sounds like you are making an assumption here whose truth has not been proven. If that is the case I wouldn't barge into these people's lives claiming paternity.

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you.
posted by dfriedman at 4:38 AM on January 23, 2010


I have a biological daughter (Angel), that I know, for certain, is mine.

I wouldn't barge into these people's lives claiming paternity.

Goldie told Abby, Abby told me. Kid looks like, etc and so forth.
posted by the giant pill at 4:41 AM on January 23, 2010


I'd think very carefully before you disrupt the life of a 10-year-old girl who recently went through the divorce of her parents. I also don't have the impression that you've really thought through the legal and emotional implications of declaring yourself Angel's real dad -- for you, for Angel, and for her parents. Like St. Alia said, this shouldn't be about what you want -- this should be about what's best for Angel right now.


Goldie and I haven't spoken about this at all. Actually Goldie hasn't specifically acknowledged that Angel is my daughter in the first place.


So....how are you so sure that she is? Is it possible that Angel's social dad is really her biological dad?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:41 AM on January 23, 2010


So....how are you so sure that she is? Is it possible that Angel's social dad is really her biological dad?

I am certain. For many, many reasons that are not even relevant to the question. Rest assured, that it is not possible for Angel to be anyone's child but mine.
posted by the giant pill at 4:49 AM on January 23, 2010


Clearly this is weighing on you, but be careful to examine your own motives. I have to agree that what is best for the kid should be what all the adults in this situation should be thinking about right now. What she needs now is reassurances that her parents love her, not a situation that will plant seeds of doubt.

Talking honestly with the mother about your theory and intentions would be the first step for any sort of connection, but I would seriously consider waiting until the kid is an adult to do so, if you feel you must do this.
posted by dawnoftheread at 4:54 AM on January 23, 2010


Please, this question is not about proving my paternity of this child. It is about starting a relationship with her. And there is no way to go about that, other than thru her mother. As I said in the question, I'm not looking to be a father figure or destroy her relationship with her father - I just want to be somewhat in her life - in any fashion that her mother would find amiable.
posted by the giant pill at 4:56 AM on January 23, 2010


I have a biological daughter (Angel), that I know, for certain, is mine.I wouldn't barge into these people's lives claiming paternity.Goldie told Abby, Abby told me. Kid looks like, etc and so forth

This does not constitute "knowing for certain."

More importantly, it is obvious you have not given one moment's thought about the child's perspective.

Do you love your father? Now, imagine yourself when you are 10 years old. Now imagine that some other man comes in and says that the daddy you love with all of your heart is not your daddy at all. The very earth you stand on has been ripped out from under you.

Now imagine over time--16, 17, 18--it dawns on you--your mommy did not treat the man you love with all of your heart, with any decency, and the man who you know is your "real" daddy didn't respect the union between your mommy and the man you loved as your daddy as a child. Does this lead to a healthy upbringing for the child? Do you realize how hard it is for a child to trust in romantic relationships after that?

I realize we all make mistakes. The secret to life is not compounding them. I know upon reflection you can see how this might not be right for her.

Having said that, in most states there is a legal presumption that the child is the issue of the husband.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:01 AM on January 23, 2010 [26 favorites]


Dawnoftheread has some great advice. The next 10-15 years can be particularly tough on a kid, and it's entirely possible she'll seek you out on her own until then. Other than waiting for that, and talking to the mother there's little you can do that wouldn't be potentially emotionally damaging to Angel.
posted by drezdn at 5:01 AM on January 23, 2010


It sounds like the mother is key in this situation. I agree with Ironmouth, by the way, and feel like, were I 10 and found out my dad wasn't my dad, it would send me into a spiral of confusion, doubt, and complicated feelings toward my mother that, on the cusp of adolescence, would be especially traumatic.

However, were I 10, and my mom had an old friend who came to visit maybe once a year, and my mom and that friend and I were to go on a trip to Sea World or something, that would be okay. A decade down the road, if that guy who I knew through only positive, joyful experiences and healthy respectful interactions with my mom and myself, turned out to be my biological dad, maybe that wouldn't be quite the earth-shattering blow to the psyche that it otherwise would be. (I am NOT a child psychologist.)

You need to talk to the mom about this, first. She's in the guardian of this child and is responsible for her well-being. She has chosen not to involve you whatsoever, and you should respect that, but you can let her know that you are willing and able to be involved, if (and ONLY if) she would like that as well. A physical letter, or an extremely formal email, would be the approach I would take, if at all. If she knows that you know, as you say, then she's most likely already considered involving you, and doesn't wish it. Don't get your hopes up.
posted by Mizu at 5:11 AM on January 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


How do I remedy this situation?

That language makes me flinch. The girl has a mother, it sounds like, and a father, apparently, one who is supporting her.

From her perspective, what needs remedying, exactly?
posted by rokusan at 5:13 AM on January 23, 2010 [14 favorites]


After seeing your responses, let me break it down further: Goldie's husband probably believed that his wife was only sleeping with him. He was wrong. Yet you are certain that she was only sleeping with you? How do you know this? You do not. Were you alone with the mother on a space mission? She fooled her husband, she could be fooling you.

Let's look at the known facts:

You had unprotected sex with a woman who was married to another man. Literally this is your only actual known fact.

A third party claims to have seen the child and states that it looks like you. This same third party also claims that the woman told her you were the father.

This is called hearsay and is generally inadmissible in a court of law. In point of fact, the woman herself could be mistaken as well, even with the timing. Only a DNA test proves you are the father.

And proving who the "real" father is, contrary to your assumption, is very important in this matter. You propose to inject yourself into the life of this child based on a series of assumptions and things that a third party told you. Even if you have seen a photo, it is quite possible that your wistful feelings could be projecting a resemblance to you on to the child. Given these risks, for the mental health of this child, you cannot make the assumptions you are making here. I know it seems all causally related to you, but situations like this require a lot more certainty. A child is at stake here.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:18 AM on January 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


The wisdom of Solomon says that sometimes the real parent is the one who lets go.

Not forever, but this elementary school kid (!) does not need to "lose" her "daddy" (and her trust in her mother) on the heels of dealing with a divorce. Don't make her bear the consequences of bad behavior on the part of grownups quite yet.
posted by availablelight at 5:22 AM on January 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


Goldie and I haven't spoken about this at all.... So really the question is "How do I persuade Goldie to let me get to know Angel?"

You don't really mention how much contact you have with Goldie these days, so the first thing to do is to re-establish that contact, if only via email or Facebook or whatever.

Once you've done that -- and right after you've done that -- you have to ask her, flat out, "Is Angel my child?" If she answers yes, then the follow-up question is, "Will you tell her about me and let me be part of her life?" If her answer is "Yes," then you proceed based on Goldie's wishes and timing. Do not push her to go faster, if she wants to wait.

If her answer is "No," then tell her, "I respect your decision. I will ask you again in a year." Then you do not bring it up until that year has passed. Repeat until Angel is an adult (NOTE: this does not necessarily mean "when she turns 18"), at which point you will be free to tell her whatever you'd like.

And be ready for eight to twelve more years of not being part of her life. It sucks, but that's the consequence.
posted by Etrigan at 5:31 AM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I honestly have no idea how I could have phrased this question any better. So I'll try again. I'm asking for suggestions to talk with Goldie about this. I would like to apologize for that. I should have bolded it & put it first.

I would also like to apologize for not making clear that I am 100% certain that the child is mine. I know that it is hard to believe that anyone is certain of anything in this world, but of this I am certain. Now you say, that I really can't be certain, I am. Can we pretend that Ask Metafilter and I are both certain? Because that is not the question that I am asking. I am asking for approaches to talking with Goldie about this.

Now as for not thinking about what would happen with Angel after she finds out that I am her father: It is not my goal or intention, while she is not an adult, to know that I am her father. I do not want to destroy her loving relationship with her father that she may or may not have. I just want to be there, in a friendly fashion, so that when she is an adult - I'm not a complete stranger. However, if Goldie chooses that Angel should know the truth at this point I would not object. Is this good for Angel? Who knows? I know that my mother divorced my dad for adultery. I know my mother and father still love me, and that it is possible to have a loving relationship regardless. The scores of people my parents have had romantic relationships with hasn't dampened my appreciation for the religion of love & the desire to be trusted and to trust. Children are very resilient and adaptable. Do I wish harm on Angel of course not. But I do know that Goldie is now on her 4th marriage and her 3rd child. (Angel is the 1st child of the 1st marriage) I doubt I am going to have that much of impact if she finds out the truth.
posted by the giant pill at 5:36 AM on January 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


I do not want to destroy her loving relationship with her father that she may or may not have. I just want to be there, in a friendly fashion, so that when she is an adult - I'm not a complete stranger.

Ah, now I see what you're looking to do.

You can't.

Sorry, but imagine you're Angel here. You've already been through three divorces, two half-siblings and lord knows what other turmoil in your life. Suddenly, there's this guy (and yeah, you already know what "Uncle" means) who lives 1500 miles away but that keeps... doing what? Coming to see you and your mom (but he doesn't seem to care about your brother and sister) every couple of months, just to "hang out." A decade later, he's still around every now and then. Who knows what else you've been through by now. And suddenly, you find out this guy is your biological father. No one ever told you. You probably figured it out long ago and hinted, but no one ever came out and said it.

You are going to hate your mother for not telling you. You are going to hate the guy she was first married to for pretending. You are going to hate this The Giant Pill guy for not telling you. You are going to hate your third stepfather for going along with it (and that's assuming that it doesn't drive some giant wedge between your mom and that particular stepfather, which means that all the pain from that point on WAS YOUR FAULT).

Halfsies doesn't do it in this case. If you "happen" to move to Florida, then maaaybe it would work. But not this way. It's just too weird.
posted by Etrigan at 5:44 AM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you have no legal standing as a parent of a child, the only real way to spend time with a child is to be the parents' friend. So I think the question is not, "How do I persuade Goldie to let me get to know Angel?" so much as it is, "How to I start a friendship with Goldie and her husband, so I can spend time with them and their children?"
posted by Houstonian at 5:53 AM on January 23, 2010


I knew an "Angel" in this situation, except that she never found out who her "donor" father was. Her parents also divorced, and while her legal father did pay child support, he barely spoke to her. She was hurt and confused as to why he disappeared from her life until she was 18 and her mother told her he was not her father.

If you are not going to tell Angel that you are her father (a good idea, I think), why not just call Goldie and talk about visiting her family as a friend. If she presses you as to why, you can say much of what you've said here: that you know that her ex-husband is Angel's real father, in terms of their relationship, but that you are interested in knowing Angel in some capacity because you suspect that she is your biological child. I wouldn't say that you *know*, because she might react poorly to that. You should give her an opening to further the conversation. If she acknowledges your parenthood, you can emphasize that you want what is best for Angel, and she can define that relationship. If she thinks it would be okay for Angel to know you as a friend but nothing more, you won't fight that, etc. I think emphasizing that you just want to be a family friend/uncle type who visits sometimes and sends presents/talks on the phone sometimes is important. I also agree with Houstonian in terms of what kind of relationship you need to cultivate.

If she denies that Angel is your child and doesn't want to be friends, then you are kind of out of luck, unless you want to start pushing for legal recognition.

It might be good to talk to this friend of yours who told you what Goldie said, and see what she thinks Goldie might respond well to, what the relationship between Angel and her father is like, Goldie and her new husband etc.
posted by carmen at 5:58 AM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't see any way for you to improve Angel's life here and now. You can talk to Goldie and tell her what you've told us, and she'll probably tell you to get lost. You have selfish motives here that you should admit. This is something you want but you probably can't have.
posted by RussHy at 6:01 AM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Most Ask mefi seems to be against you and a relationship with Angel. I'm going to disagree. Everyone is assuming that she already has a great relationship with her father figure in her life right now. Maybe she doesn't and she is missing that aspect of her life. Maybe she does have a father figure in her life, but Goldie is less supportive or she just needs another caring adult. I'm surprised at all the people talking about step- this and half- that that are so concerned about the addition of another figure.

So I'm going to sort-of recommend you follow through on this with some caveats. Obviously, the first is to speak with Goldie and in some way initiate contact. You haven't mentioned her personality much and this is what I'm concerned about. Is she likely to dramatically drop this bomb on her daughter at an inopportune time? Or is she likely to let you and Angel develop a slow relationship before letting you tell her daughter the truth of your relationship? I think you should consider getting to know Angel a slow thing and don't suddenly rush to Florida if Goldie gives permission. Consider her reaction and yours carefully. You have been thinking about this for a long time, but for Angel it will likely come out of left field. I would work on developing the relationship with her for several years (maybe eight?) before telling her. I think you could easily be a "family friend" from Goldie's life who "knew" Angel as a baby and was taking interest. Of course I think that if Angel ever seemed to guess then I would tell her the truth. Don't lie about this for certain.

I would also consider that Goldie may start asking you for child support. She may ask that you gift her some money, things, etc in order to allow you to see Angel and all under the table. Maybe not, but I can see it as a possibility.

Finally, you call her "Goldie" which implys to me that you aren't over this woman. What do you anticipate your relationship will be? Please don't go for this with any expectation of getting back together with the mother, that will be obvious to everyone including Angel and seriously complicate the matter. (Later on she may wonder whether did dad come back for me or mom.)
posted by aetg at 6:02 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are a couple of possibilities here:

1. The child is yours, Angel doesn't know, and Goldie's husband doesn't know, in which case I think Goldie did you and Angel a bad turn. That just wasn't fair to either of you, but as to what's fair right now should be your question. If this is the case, then you need to contact Goldie --- or have this mutual friend who told you about this daughter contact Goldie and maybe get some better details or something? There really can't be any doubt whatsoever with you going forward. And no matter how you do it, I'm afraid, under the circumstances it probably won't be well received no matter how gently and unobtrusive you are about it.

2. The child is yours, Angel doesn't know, but consider maybe the possibility that Goldie's husband does know. You don't know for sure that he doesn't, and I think in some ways that may mean even more upset precisely because he chose to stay with his wife and to raise another man's child. They're divorce now, but that could be for any other number of reasons people divorce.

3. Given the timing of your mutual friend telling you this and the divorce, maybe that is a reason they divorced. Maybe it's possible that Goldie's husband found out and that set off a bunch of other trust issues, in which case venturing into this child's life right now would be a huge, huge, huge mistake. You could be coming in at what is possibly the worst time for Goldie as well if she kept this fact hidden from everyone in her life and it just came out now. You don't know the circumstances of the divorce, and you don't know if this did or didn't play a role in that.

4. Maybe everyone already knows. Maybe Angel knows that she does have a second father out there and maybe when she's older and not going through such a hard time, she'll seek you out. You don't know this either.

5. It is, I know you say it isn't, but really there is a possibility the child isn't yours. There really could be. You say there isn't, but how is it you know for sure? I mean, pretty much you'd have to guarantee and be 100% sure you were the only one sleeping with her for a period of 6 weeks give or take, assuming she gave birth between 38 and 43 weeks or so. But what if that's not the case? What if she slept with someone after that 6 week period and that baby came a month early? That would put Angel's birthday at about the same time as the baby she would have had with you. To my mind, the only way you can guarantee that six weeks or so if Goldie's husband was in the armed forces, an undercover cop, or something else that would have prevented him from being around.

There are too many "if" factors and unknowns for you to enter their lives right now. I am really sorry for the wrong done to you if Angel is your child. But right now, at this moment, it really seems like a bad idea for you to go barging in their lives. Give it time. Maybe try to get some more details through non-invasive means. Talk to this mutual friend again --- what exactly did Goldie tell her? What more does she know that she didn't tell you? Is there anything she may have gotten confused?

This family is already going through a lot with the divorce alone. Give it some time. Give it a lot more thought. I think maybe the best route to take in a few years may be to have this friend tell Goldie you're interested in a relationship, maybe. Right now, I just don't believe there is anyway for you to contact Goldie that would result in what you want. In time, there may be. But who knows when that will be?
posted by zizzle at 6:04 AM on January 23, 2010


I'm going to take a different tack here and instead of analyzing your motives or the harm you may or may not cause by getting involved in Angel's life, I'm going to try to answer your actual question!

I think you should tell Goldie just what you've told all of us here: I want to be a part of Angel's life, but I don't want to mess her up or be intrusive or interfere with her relationship with her dad. Can I? If so, how could we make that happen?

You seem to be motivated by a genuine interest in the child and a desire to be a positive influence. It sounds like Goldie's got a lot of men coming and going in her life. It could be a good thing for Angel to have one constant positive male role model. Maybe you can be that guy. As long as you make it very clear that you will respect whatever decisions Goldie makes about how much (and what kind) of contact you have with the child, she should at least be willing to hear you out. If she's reasonable.
posted by rhartong at 6:06 AM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Going along with what aetg is saying...

It might be prudent/wise/thoughtful to start a savings account now. Possibly it could be a college fund for Angel down the road. Down the road it might prove inappropriate to actually give it to her (for whatever reason), but then again, it might be totally welcomed and appreciated.
posted by ian1977 at 6:09 AM on January 23, 2010


Well, if you phrase it as you did in your last posting, it seems difficult to give some advise, because nobody here has any idea about how good Goldie's judgment in this matter is likely to be.
Otherwise it would be simple; try to contact Goldie, and ask her: "Do you think it's a good idea (since we all [apparently] know that Angel is my daughter) to introduce me to her, and if so, when and in what way?" Apparently this isn't what you have in mind, or you wouldn't be posting here. So your question is, unfortunately, still not entirely clear. Do you need advice about how to talk to Goldie or are you concerned about meeting your daughter?

A comment on your last paragraph. To you, the most positive outcome of knowing your daughter is clearly this: "I just want to be there, in a friendly fashion, so that when she is an adult - I'm not a complete stranger." I have a lot of sympathy for this outlook, but I nevertheless think that you need to try to view the matter primarily from her (Angel's) perspective.
This has nothing to do with "harm" or "no harm". It is, simply, not for you to decide whether this one individual child, Angel, is resilient and adaptable or not. Trust the people who know her well on this; if in doubt, don't take a chance.
posted by Namlit at 6:10 AM on January 23, 2010


Also, with regards to paternity...why aren't we just trusting the OP? He says he knows for reasons he doesn't get into. Do we have to question that? Maybe he has genetic information about Angel and a statistical breakdown of the chances of her being someone else's kid? Maybe they each have a super rare genetic trait. Maybe he sent in a soda can she drank out of for DNA testing. We don't know, the OP claims to know. At some point don't we have to just trust the asker?
posted by ian1977 at 6:14 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


You might want to look at this New York Times article from a few months ago about fatherhood and DNA testing. I'm not at all suggesting you get a DNA test, but the article might make the situation a little more concrete for you in terms of what might happen if you got in touch with Angel, what the legal issues are, etc.
posted by deeparch at 6:21 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I honestly have no idea how I could have phrased this question any better.

You couldn't have. It's an artifact of AskMe, especially this sort (re interpersonal relationships, soliciting answers that require no particular expertise), that people like to second-guess the asker. It isn't you. It would have happened anyway.

But there are two separate issues, on that tack. You're looking for "suggestions to talk with Goldie." Some of what you're getting are challenges to your factual premise, that you are/aren't the father. Separately from that, you're also getting, "You should not do this." Recognize that the latter is not the same as the former, and may indeed be both relevant and responsive.

Recognize one other thing. In this thread, you have phrased everything in terms of, "I want..." and "I would like..." You haven't said anything about what Angel might want, or what Goldie might want, or what Goldie's ex-husband might want. I'm sure you think that you have considered these things. Your language suggests otherwise. This is not an uncommon human failing, to ardently believe we have given due consideration to that which we have not. I can't say it is true of you, from the few words you've typed hereā€”but those words indicate that it might be. You should think about it.
posted by cribcage at 7:07 AM on January 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


There seems to be a whole lot of not reading the question here.
Whether or not the OP is right about paternity is irrelevant. He acknowledges that presumed dad is the Real Dad and he doesn't intend to tell Angel anything different.

The reasons for and feelings about Goldie and Real Dad's divorce are irrelevant. Goldie has been married 3 times since then. The divorce is old news.

The relationship between Angel and real dad is irrelevant. OP is not trying to replace real dad.
The question is "How do I persuade Goldie to let me get to know Angel?" Unfortunately, the answer is that you probably can't. You aren't local. You can't casually drop by for a visit. You can't invite the family over for a barbecue. You say you "just want to be there," but you AREN'T there. If Goldie doesn't talk to Angel about you, Angel isn't going to think about you at all. You can't be enough of a presence for a 10 year old to even remember who you are without things getting really weird. The most you can realistically hope for is to be a vaguely familiar name. I admire your motivation, but it just isn't practical.

With that said, assuming you figure out some way that you could build a relationship with Angel, you've only really got two choices with Goldie. One is to very simply ask her if it's okay with her if you . . . whatever you intend to do. If she presses you for a reason, tell her that you believe that it's possible that Angel is yours biologically (don't tell her you know - that sounds arrogant and confrontational) and that you would like her to know who you are in case it ever becomes an issue. If she tells you no, you're out of luck. Maybe you can try again in a couple of years.

Your only other option is to go very very slowly and not expect much to happen as a result. Send a Christmas card (to the entire family - not to Angel). If you hear any news about the family, send a card, or a postcard or an e-mail to say that you heard what was happening and wanted to send your condolences/congratulations/whatever. If you happen to be in town, call and ask Goldie if she minds if you drop by (just to say hello because you're in town - not to see Angel) or invite the family to lunch. Maybe after a couple of years of that, you could escalate to sending Angel a birthday card. Of course, most likely Angel will ask her mom "Who is thegiantpill? Why is he sending me a birthday card?" and it's all in Goldie's hands again.
posted by Dojie at 7:16 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just want to be somewhat in her life - in any fashion that her mother would find amiable.

Tell Goldie this. See where it goes from there.
posted by cooker girl at 7:45 AM on January 23, 2010


Here's how I would see things if I was Goldie - "Why does this guy suddenly want a relationship with my almost pubescent daughter? Where was he when she was 3 or 5 or 7?" I think you should expect that this may be Goldie's reaction. Her daugter is about to enter puberty and NOW you want a relationship????

Here's how I would see things if I was "real" dad - "What? All this time I thought this was my kid and I've been paying her board and keep and she wasn't mine? I'm going after that m@#$%$&^%$@r with everything I've got. Where's the phone number for my lawyer?"

Are you prepared for these reactions and the emotional and monetary results?
posted by eleslie at 8:21 AM on January 23, 2010


However, if Goldie chooses that Angel should know the truth at this point I would not object. Is this good for Angel? Who knows? I know that my mother divorced my dad for adultery. I know my mother and father still love me, and that it is possible to have a loving relationship regardless. The scores of people my parents have had romantic relationships with hasn't dampened my appreciation for the religion of love & the desire to be trusted and to trust. Children are very resilient and adaptable. Do I wish harm on Angel of course not. But I do know that Goldie is now on her 4th marriage and her 3rd child. (Angel is the 1st child of the 1st marriage) I doubt I am going to have that much of impact if she finds out the truth.

When you get in touch with Goldie, resist any temptation to say anything even remotely CLOSE to what you said above. Because stuff like "It might be a GOOD thing for a ten year old girl to learn that she shares no DNA with the man she thought was her father, because, after all, my single data point of personal experience should prove that nothing bothers children" makes me, a stranger across the internet, think "I distrust his intentions", so I imagine it would set Goldie's distrust-radar off like, times 1,000.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:28 AM on January 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think Dojie's got it.

It's really up to Goldie. She's the primary parent and as such probably knows what's in the best interest of her child. Call her to initiate a casual relationship and let her take the lead. Avoid being demanding or confrontational. After you've spoken a few times and felt out her attitude towards you, you might mention what Abby told you. See where it goes from there. Be careful with Angel. She's about to enter pre-adolescence and let me tell you what, brother: It's hard to be a preteen girl. Paternity complications will only make it harder and it sounds like her life is pretty complicated already.
posted by dchrssyr at 8:39 AM on January 23, 2010


Do I wish harm on Angel of course not. But I do know that Goldie is now on her 4th marriage and her 3rd child. (Angel is the 1st child of the 1st marriage)I doubt I am going to have that much of impact if she finds out the truth.

I understand that you're asking for advice on how to approach Goldie. But when you say things like this, it sounds like you are trying to ignore the potentially damaging consequences of entering Angel's life.

Just because Angel's been through three divorces doesn't mean that she's had so much bad stuff happen to her that this will merely be a drop in the bucket. The fact that she's had so much instability in her life should make you think very carefully about what's right for her. Instead, you seem to be using it as a rationalization for doing something that could be very harmful to her, and thinking about your own needs and desires instead of Angel's best interest.

I wish you the best in trying to rebuild a relationship with Goldie and seeing if there is a way for Angel to be in your life. One of my best friends was in an "Angel" situation, and having experienced the fallout from this type of scenario from the other end, I hope you proceed with caution.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:45 AM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is this good for Angel? Who knows?

Generally, with ten-year olds, it is very important that we take their needs seriously and make them paramount. You seem utterly unconcerned. If you truly love the child, think long and hard about this.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:51 AM on January 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Contact the mother. Ask if it's appropriate for you to have some kind of relationship with the kid.
If her answer is yes, the mother gets to dictate the terms. But you should move closer to the family. It's the only way you could do this without being weird.

The needs of the child are quite frankly irrelevant to the question. The question is how to initiate, if appropriate, a relationship with a biological daughter. The mother is the only person in a position to know if its appropriate and how to make it happen, if at all.

I'm not in any way hopeful that you'll get what you want out of this.
posted by disclaimer at 9:40 AM on January 23, 2010


This is really not a good situation. Like other posters, I don't think that bringing this into the open will be beneficial for Angel. However, it's also morally wrong to keep Goldie's husband paying child support for a child that you know isn't his... and there's the dilemma.

In this situation, it seems like the best you can do is choose the lesser of two evils. Only you can make that decision, but considering Angel's age I'd lean toward letting this go.
posted by ripley_ at 10:30 AM on January 23, 2010


ok, so maybe I'm crazy- but I'm pretty conservative with my values generally speaking, much more conservative than people around me, for the most part, and I think that if you are 100% certain that you are the biological father, then you have not only the right, but the obligation to give the child a chance to get to know you and be a part of your life.

Yes, you have to do this carefully, and yes, you have to be very cognizant of the child's feelings at every step and move very carefully, but I do thing contacting the mother might be a good first step.
posted by saraindc at 10:34 AM on January 23, 2010


Call Goldie. Say this: "I would like to get Angel to know me, not as her dad necessarily, just as the "donor", "nice uncle", "strange dude that gives her presents", whatever ... a relationship of some sort. If initiating a relationship would mean I would be paying child support - I would be okay with that too."

If Goldie is reluctant or outright refuses, explore your options with a lawyer. In most states I think the husband at the time of conception / birth is presumed the father of a child. Check with a lawyer and ask what your options are as far as getting a paternity order (a positive outcome is pretty much going to seal child support obligations, btw). From there, follow through with any attached rights.

The legal / possibly messy side of this is between you and Goldie. Even if you're the father backed up by DNA, even if you start paying support...you don't have to explain the details immediately to Angel. Try to keep the relationships between you & Angel and you & Goldie separate, especially if it gets messy. Good luck.
posted by motsque at 10:38 AM on January 23, 2010


furthermore- I think that the relationship between a blood parent and a child is absolutely inalienable....I know I'm not answering your question- the truth is, however you contact the child- it will be a rough path but I absolutely encourage you, with the assumption that this is your child (and you can formally establish this at some point as well) to follow this path. And have faith, that if your intentions are good, and if you try hard, the path you take will lead you in the right direction.

good luck and please update us on how it goes. feel free to pm me if you want a more positive audience to discuss the steps that you take and the emotional turmoil you are about to go through. i think the end result will be worth it if you are solid in your resolve to be a positive factor in the child's life.
posted by saraindc at 10:44 AM on January 23, 2010


C'mon people. Reading comprehension. He's not looking to "bring this out in the open":

Now as for not thinking about what would happen with Angel after she finds out that I am her father: It is not my goal or intention, while she is not an adult, to know that I am her father.

The people who understand what you are asking are giving you the only good info there is: you have to go through Goldie. No one really knows your relationship with Goldie since you haven't said anything particularly helpful about this, so there's not much advice other than to start working on your relationship there and see how that goes. Is she refuses to acknowledge you or let you see the child, your only choices then are to let it go or get lawyered up. That last one may not bein the best interest of Angel.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:52 AM on January 23, 2010


Get in touch with the child's mother. Tell her "you and I both know that there is a chance that Angel is my daughter. If she is, I want you to have access to this:" Give her your complete medical history and as much of your genealogical information as you know. Just make up a big packet and mail it to her (after speaking with her and warning her its coming). She may need that someday. Set up a savings account for Angel (for college or just "for the future".) Be accessible to her mother. Maybe send a Christmas card to the whole family. Do nothing else.

If her mother wants you to be in the picture, she'll know how to get in touch with you.
posted by anastasiav at 11:03 AM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anastasiav has it. It is important that you are the bio dad, especially for health reasons. Also, if you are her biological dad, really you do have a right to be in her life. Of course if you pursued that right through legal avenues, you'd also have a lot of responsibility toward Angel and Goldie for a long time, financial and otherwise. Maybe if you wanted to exercise your right to be her dad or be in her life, you should have approached this before she was already 10 years old, but we don't know your reasons for not doing so.
posted by ishotjr at 11:40 AM on January 23, 2010


I would honestly wait til lshe is 18 or over. I feel at 10 years old it could do more damage then good. Just keep the possibility open that the mother could tell her at anytime.
posted by majortom1981 at 12:02 PM on January 23, 2010


Children are very resilient and adaptable.

Some are. Some are impressionable, rather than resilient. Some are fragile, rather than adaptable.

The ones who've had a lot of instability in their lives? Actually more likely to tend toward the impressionable and fragile, rather than resilient and adaptable.

Your words do not sound very compassionate toward this child.
posted by palliser at 12:03 PM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jesus palliser, "not very compassionate toward this child"? He never said that he wanted to be her dad, just an adult in her life that has a special interest in her. I don't know WHAT I would have done if my parents had been the only ones raising me. Having an additional adult in your life who cares for you and loves you can be exceedingly beneficial for a pre-teen, and a girl in Angel's situation it can have an even greater impact, especially since it sounds like her mother's life is somewhat chaotic. I think that OP is extremely compassionate and not at all selfish about this situation. He has a biological daughter, and he is not barreling into her life, declaring, "Child, thou art the fruit of the seed of mine loins!", he is asking an incredibly thoughtful question about how to find a way into her life without bunging it up any more than it already is.
The Giant Pill, I am so sorry that so many people have been so incredibly judgmental on a manner that didn't deserve nearly the vituperation that it received. I admire you for wanting to take an interest. Of course, you go through Goldie. The distance is going to be an issue. Good luck.
posted by msali at 12:43 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just contact Goldie (I would think email might be easiest if that's possible as it will give her some time to think/process) and tell her what you said above:

Ideally, what I'd like to happen is that Angel get to know me. I don't want to shatter Angel's relationship with her real dad (yes I realize that I was just a donor here), but I would like to get Angel to know me, not as her dad necessarily, just as the "donor", "nice uncle", "strange dude that gives her presents", whatever ... a relationship of some sort. If initiating a relationship would mean I would be paying child support - I would be okay with that too.

Just be prepared to do whatever Goldie thinks is best. She knows Angel, and will have a much better sense of whether this will harm her.
posted by grapesaresour at 1:13 PM on January 23, 2010


Jesus palliser, "not very compassionate toward this child"? He never said that he wanted to be her dad, just an adult in her life that has a special interest in her.

I said his words did not sound compassionate, and the "words" I was referring to are the ones I quoted at the very top of my comment: "Children are very resilient and adaptable." In context, they were the opposite of compassionate, in that they gave the back of the hand to the notion that, contrary to his expressed intention, Angel might find out he's her father, and might be distressed by this new change to her life. The idea behind them was, yeah, that might sound pretty upsetting, but hey, kids bounce back. That's pretty much the definition of "not very compassionate."
posted by palliser at 1:26 PM on January 23, 2010


Thank you, palliser, for pointing out that this is a myth: "Children are very resilient and adaptable".

At 15, my mother introduced me to my biological father. Neither my dad who raised me, nor my biological father knew her secret until then. This information made me question my sense of being and I felt abnormal compared to my peers. Please keep the following in mind before you try to insert yourself into Angel's life in any way:
1. be patient
2. put her emotional needs ahead of yours
3. be patient some more

I have known my biological father for over 25 years now and we have a mutually respectful relationship. It has taken a very long time for me to think of him as a father.
posted by hipaa_chik at 8:01 PM on January 23, 2010


The needs of the child are quite frankly irrelevant to the question.

Did I really just read that? I mean, I scanned it four times looking for a missing word and everything. I was an inch away from checking to make sure "irrelevant" actually means what I've assumed it means all these years, even.

Please don't think that way. You see, the rest of you are adults who can understand and deal with complex relationships and emotional baggage. Don't dump your own need to feel significant onto a 10 year old girl who doesn't need any extra confusion or pressure in her life. Please.

The best advice above was to silently start a savings account. You can tell your ex about it, but it might be better to keep it to yourself. Give it to your daughter when she's 18, perhaps as an anonymous college tuition payment or three. But until then, stay the heck away and let her finish growing up.
posted by rokusan at 10:18 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure you should be in contact with her. It seems like a potentially explosive situation. Do start a savings account though.
posted by xammerboy at 11:25 PM on January 23, 2010


I think all people deserve to live the full integrity of their lives. This issue goes into the realm of family secrets, and generally I don't think secrets are a good thing. I don't think she should be told right now, but at some point she should be. I would suggest that is the point when you should meet her.

I think the idea of you visiting with her or developing a relationship with her while she doesn't know you're her biological father is a bad idea. I would be enraged if my mother let some man around me who she knew was my biological father and didn't tell me. I think that would be damaging to her. Not to be too woo-woo, but the energy you'd be putting out while you're with her would be off and I think she would know something is up. I say this from experience as both a foster and adoptive parent who has a lot of experience with these kinds of issues.

I think you should maybe first talk with Angela about the bigger picture. Is she planning on telling her daughter? Does she know when? How does Angela feel about it? I would approach it like that rather than approaching it as wanting to get to know the child. I would also talk with a therapist about this, someone who specializes in adoption might be familiar with some of these issues. Actually, I'd do that first, get your motivations into the open and then approach Angela.

There is nothing but time here. Don't rush anything. And good luck.
posted by orsonet at 8:06 AM on January 24, 2010


"At some point don't we have to just trust the asker?" Not at this point - the whole question rest on the statement that the OP is 100% certain that he is the father - and he doesn't simply omit how he know, he specifically writes that he won't say how he knows.

There's no evidence that he's seen or been near the child himself.

I give this the same level of trust I'd give a phrase like, "I am 100% certain that my former lover wants me back, despite having a restraining order against me and planning a wedding with someone else."

Seriously, you are not allowed to "be a part of your child's life" until you establish that the child is yours.

Local social service and free familyl law clinics night be a useful place to find good information for the whole path.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:41 AM on January 24, 2010


ok, so maybe I'm crazy- but I'm pretty conservative with my values generally speaking, much more conservative than people around me, for the most part, and I think that if you are 100% certain that you are the biological father, then you have not only the right, but the obligation to give the child a chance to get to know you and be a part of your life.

I agree.

I think it's fucked up to let a kid grow up thinking that her biological father is one guy, when it's really another guy. I had almost no contact with my father or father's family for over a decade. He might not be my biological father in the way I would like him to be, but he's still my biological father. I value knowing him now and having the chance to interact with him. Do we have a typical father-daughter relationship? No, not at all. He didn't come to my wedding, much less walk me down the aisle. That doesn't mean that anyone has the right to decide on my behalf that I don't "need" to know my own biological father. Nor does anyone have the right to decide on Angel's behalf that she doesn't "need" to know her biological father.

OP, I think you have the right impulse but you're not taking it far enough. There's no reason for you to remain a friendly stranger. It's more likely to make her feel manipulated than if you simply tell her the truth and start acting like you want a relationship with her because you're her biological father. Which you are, and you do. Tell Goldie that it's your intention to be a part of your daughter's life. If Goldie isn't cooperative, consider moving closer to your daughter and perhaps suing for visitation. Try to give Angel some leeway to determine the extent of your interaction. Expect her to be pissed off, distant, uninterested, unpleasant, etc. If you can give her things or contact her in ways that don't compel her to respond, even better.

Send pictures of yourself and any old pictures of your family--your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles...and get her into contact with your extended family if practical. I valued those connections immensely. It was so cool to hear that I'm the spitting image of my grandmother. Wish I'd have been able to meet her before she died, or at least go to her funeral. You take these things for granted--please let her have them if you can.

Consider looking up advice for birth parents of adopted children. I think a lot of it would apply to you.

Good luck.
posted by kathrineg at 2:41 PM on January 24, 2010


A related story.
posted by mkb at 4:14 PM on January 31, 2010


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