Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Man fathered a child; now dreads the DNA knock on the door

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am a male in my early 70s. I made a terrible mistake when I was 16 years old: I got my girlfriend (also 16) pregnant.

Both sets of parents were supportive and arranged for my girlfriend to enroll in what was at that time referred to as an unwed-mother's home. At birth, the child was immediately placed for adoption and went to a loving home.

I know nothing of the child and have had no contact with my ex-girlfriend since she left our town for the home.

My question is, should I be open with my children (now adults) about their having a half-sibling out there someplace? I've told my wife, but never discussed this sordid part of my history with anyone else. Not ever.

I am concerned that someday there will be a knock on my door due to the extensive research capabilities available via the internet.

To try to find out details about the child seems to me to be a fool's errand, and any light shed on this subject would only serve to hurt people.

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I have managed to keep my mouth shut for decades; should I continue to hold this secret to myself? Thank you for your insight and advice.

-- Burdened

Dear Burdened: I think you should make an effort to reframe how you've been thinking about this episode for the past five-plus decades.

Here are the words you use to describe your role in the birth of this child: "Terrible," "mistake," "sordid," "secret." You describe any possible disclosure as a "fool's errand" that will "hurt people."


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