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Finding Out Your Dad Isn't Your Dad

Updated on November 27, 2010

Four years ago, when I was 34 years old, I came home from work at 6:00 in the morning and my live-in boyfriend said to me, "Honey, you are not going to believe what happened last night!"  A man had shown up at my doorstep, slightly tipsy, and announced to my boyfriend that he (the man) believed he was my biological father.  He spent about an hour telling my boyfriend information about myself and my family, particularly my mother.  He left his name, address, phone number, and email address and told my boyfriend that I could contact him whenever I wanted to, if I chose to do so.

I spent some time pondering the matter and pouring over old family data.  I had my mom's diary from the year 1968 to 1974 (four years before my birth and two years after), and plenty of family photos.  My younger brother and sister have dark brown, curly hair with reddish tints that show up well in the sun and dark brown eyes, like my dad.  I have mousy brown hair, straight as a board, and green eyes, like my mom.  Nothing too telling in that...except that I favor my mother.  The entire year prior to my birth had been removed from my mom's diary, which was suspicious.  I saw a notation in the back that said my mom and dad had been separated for a year and a half prior to my conception, and that they had gotten back together right around the time I would've been conceived (my parents had been married for six years before I was born).  Suspicion arose at that, too, because my siblings and I had never known that our parents had anything but a happy marriage prior to the arrival of children.

My alleged biological father contacted me again several weeks later and wanted to meet me in person.  He arrived with photos of me as a child and claimed that my mom had sent them to him via his mother.  He said he used to have a 60's muscle car with my mom's name stenciled along the rear spoiler.  He said that he and my mom had lived together for a little while in North Carolina and that she found out she was pregnant, told him he wasn't responsible enough to be a father, and that she was going to reconcile with my dad.

To find out for sure, this man said he would pay for DNA testing to be performed.  We sent off to a firm in California that does cheek swab testing for their kit and performed the tests, then waited for the results to be delivered via email and normal mail.  *wait wait wait*

In the mean time, I had an argument with my mom via email and made a comment about my alleged biological father, which stirred up a hornet's nest with my parents.  Thus they were clued in about the mystery man and the pending DNA tests.

The DNA results said that it was 99.99999999% probable that he was my biological father.  My dad and I then took our own cheek swab DNA tests and the results said it was 00.00000014% probable that HE was my biological father.  So the midnight ramblings of a drunken stranger proved to be true, much to my dismay and the dismay of my family.

I haven't had much contact with my biological father and don't really think I want any.  I don't understand why he would wait thirty four years to drop this bomb into my lap and the lap of my family.  It isn't as though he had any hopes of reconciliation with my mom, because my parents have been married since 1966 and are still married today.  How many people do YOU know that have been married for forty-four years?

I have two children, a 21 year old daughter and a 16 year old daughter.  My dad was very upset to learn that they are not, now, his biological grandchildren.  My parents have gone through quite a bit in the past four years since this revelation and my mom denies that she knew she was pregnant when she reconciled with my dad before I was born.  My sister and I don't believe this denial, but cannot prove otherwise.

It has really put me in something of a tailspin because I've spent the past two decades doing genealogical research on my dad's and mom's family trees...and then I find out that I don't even belong to one of the branches.  The large and loving collection of relatives on my father's side aren't actually my blood-kin.  I used to KNOW that I was Scotch-Irish on my dad's side and French-English on my mom's...and now it feels sometimes like half of me is missing.

I don't necessarily believe that blood makes a person your family.  I have ONE dad and ONE father, and that is the man that raised me from birth to the age at which I moved out of the family nest (and back in again, then out again, then back, then out...).  I wouldn't be the person I am today with the values and morals and independence and ability to think for myself if it wasn't for him.  So he IS my dad in every sense of the word.

My dad struggles with it occasionally, and I know it bothers him more than he shows.  He is a very proud and quiet man, and he comes from a large but very close and loving family.  Family means a great deal to him.  Sometimes I wonder if it's actually my mom's deception that has hurt him the most, and I guess it probably is.

At age 38, I still want my mommy sometimes when my heart hurts...and I still want my daddy when life seems to deal with me unfairly in some way and I want him to protect me or defend me.  My dad, the one who raised me, is the best father a girl could ever ask for, and I wouldn't trade him for anything.  Even if it was deceitful and dishonest of my mom to reconcile with him because she believed he would be the better provider, and to keep from him the knowledge that I wasn't his biological child, I'm glad she did in a way.  Otherwise I might have missed out on the best dad ever.


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    • profile image

      Numb and reeling 14 months ago

      Trust me when I say, I feel your pain! This past weekend, I just learned that my Dad is not my Father, and that a man that I thought was my mom's friend, is in fact my biological father! I'm in my mid-50s, and I have an adult daughter, and a grandson.

      And, in the same conversation, I learned that the "injury" I was told I had at 3 years old, was not an injury, but was actually tuberculosis, and I spent almost a year in a Sanitorium for people with tuberulosis!

      I am just blown away. I don't know what to feel, think, or say. I need to share this with my 4 siblings, but am trying to determine what this all means. I've made an appointment with my primary care physician to update my medical history, although there is clearly half of my genetics of which I am clueless. All three individuals involved have passed on - my mom, dad, and biological father. The biological father has two children whose names I remember, so I might try to find them, only for medical history reasons. I think it is terrible when adults do this to children. I just happened to learn this from my 75 year old cousin, who had vowed to take this information to her grave. I wonder if my siblings will look at be differently now. We are very close, and love each other dearly. What to do!!!

      Numb and reeling

    • profile image

      Ashten1 5 years ago

      Forgot to add that my father was not like the hub author's father. He was, at the very least, verbally abused as a child which clearly arrested his development as a father. He was not the classic, Post-World War II breadwinner dad--my mother joined the workforce when I was an infant. In short, he was never "Ward Cleaver." However, he was honest and hard-working and if he ever suspected that I was not his own, he concealed it. After my infancy, he was never demonstrative. Yet, there is no doubt in my mind that my father loved me.

    • profile image

      Ashten1 5 years ago

      This happened to me as well.

      In 1991, when my dad was dying, my only sibling (nine years my senior) told me that he was not my biological father. According to her, my mother had had an affair and I was the product of that affair. I was 36 years old at the time and I was devastated.

      In researching this topic on-line, I am surprised at the number of those who weigh in, insisting that honesty is the always best policy. They are misinformed.

      In my case, anyone who might have known about this situation, with exception of my sister and my mother (who would have never disclosed this story to me) were long dead. My sister employed the flawed logic, “if it were me, I would want to know.” Apparently, she forgot to consider that she was secure in the knowledge of knowing that there was no question about her parentage. And, she forgot to consider how I might react.

      There was no purpose in disclosing this information to me. Nothing could be gained by it other than my sister getting off her chest a secret she had been burdened with for most of her lifetime. My sister’s motivation for telling me “the truth” was that she thought it would lessen my pain if I knew that my dying father was not “my real father.” My “real father” had died many years prior.

      Like the author of this hub, my identity was in question and half of my family tree was now stripped from me. What my sister did not realize is that, in effect, I lost my father twice—once through her version of the truth and again when he died a few weeks later.

      Several years later, I confronted my mother. She denied everything and if there were any truth to the story, she took it to the grave. I never raised the issue again and I never broached the subject with my sister.

      My sister is an expert researcher. A few days ago, she e-mailed me a photo she had found on-line of my alleged father. That was the final straw for me. I informed her via e-mail that, regardless of any evidence, we share the same biological father. The man who raised me is my father. While it is possible that my mother may have slept with two men at the same time, that does not mean that the “alleged father” is my biological father. And, under no circumstances am I am interested in pursuing this.

      For those who insist on the self-righteous, “honesty at all costs,” approach to life, that “growth can come from honesty,” etc., please take a few minutes to research this. I could not find a single individual, like myself and the author of this hub, who appreciated knowing "the truth." On the contrary, all of us share the exact same word in describing how we feel: “devastated.”

    • chuckd7138 profile image

      Charles Dawson 5 years ago from Bartow, FL

      Oh, I know this subject all too well. I found out when I was 20 (in 1991), and I was able to have a 17-year off-and-on relationship (because of his mental health issues) with him until he died in 2008. Knowing the truth produces a roller coaster of emotions, thoughts and drama. Additionally, for some, the truth doesn't set them free; it binds and imprisons them. Great hub though. It's a two-sided sword to know that there are others like me but know the pain like me too.

    • sarasca profile image

      sarasca 7 years ago from Bristol, VA

      Thank you to those who have posted comments. They have all been carefully read and considered.

      I suppose what really hurts me the most about the entire situation is that it has hurt my dad the most. He has always been a solid and rock-steady anchor in my life and it upsets me when he is off-center himself.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Awesome hub. :-;

    • Karen Wodke profile image

      Karen Wodke 7 years ago from Midwest

    • Karen Wodke profile image

      Karen Wodke 7 years ago from Midwest

      Incredible story. What strange predicaments we humans get ourselves into, not realizing the far-reaching implications of our actions. You are lucky that the man who raised you is such a fine person. I hope your family can overcome the turmoil that has been raised by this issue.

    • mylife=adventure profile image

      Casey Coulter 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      This happened to my sister about 4 months ago she finally got the courage to ask our parents about it and they told her that my father is not her biological father. I was devastated just as much as she was, my sister raised me since i was a baby so it felt like a piece of that was taken away. But when you look back you have to see who was there for you and that's who really counts as your father, mother, daughter or sister. Thanks for sharing and good luck to you and your family.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 7 years ago from South Carolina

      Dear Sarasca,

      Family secrets can be devastating when first exposed, but after all the dust settles, they can also help us grow. It must have been quite a shock for you to learn about your biological Dad, but as you have so eloquently stated in this hub, it did not change the feelings you have for the man who raised you and that everyone else (except Mom) believed WAS your natural father.

      This hub is beautiful and heartfelt and I think that if you haven't already directly expressed your feelings to the Dad who is your Dad in every sense of the word and who raised you, I hope you share it with him.

      Love is not genetic. It is born and grows out of our day to day thoughts, beliefs, feelings and actions as well as our choices.

      You are an adult woman now, and it is entirely appropriate for you to choose to continue loving your Dad, Mom, siblings and other relatives as much as if they were your full biological relatives.

      You may also be selling your Mom's motives for returning to your Dad all those years ago, short. Even if part of her reason for returning was to have a positive male figure and provider in your life other more powerful reasons and feelings may also have been part of her decision. Perhaps the 1 1/2 year separation had taught her what love really meant and that it was far more than infatuation with an irresponsible "Bad Boy."

      Your Mom may deeply love your Dad and be currently suffering herself knowing that her past actions have brought so much pain to those she loves.

      Some family counseling might be of help to all concerned.

      Your biological Dad's motives for contacting you are disturbing mostly because he never made them clear. Was he hoping that you would want a relationship with him? Was he simply drunk? Is he an alcoholic and given to impulsive destructive behaviors?

      All we know for sure is that his current actions have hurt you deeply and have been destructive to your parents' relationship.

      I pray that love and forgiveness will eventually heal the wounds that were inflicted by the exposure of the secret and that you make peace with it one day.

    • zzron profile image

      zzron 7 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Wow, what a story. Things like this is what makes us stronger better people and more able to handle the ups and downs in our lives. Life is a learning experience. God bless you and your family.


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