Question: Dear Luise: I am writing to you because I am lost on what to do about my 15 year old daughter whom I have not seen since she was a baby. I dated her mother for a very short period of time, and was made aware of the pregnancy a couple weeks prior to her due date. I was there for my daughter’s birth, and even though she moved immediately afterwards to another state to be with her parents, I sent money every month on pay day. Quite a few months later I received a couple of phone calls from her parents stating that the money I was sending was not going to help my daughter, but rather for partying and other similar type of things, and that the mother was in another state, had met another man, had gotten pregnant, and wished to start a family with intentions on her new man adopting my daughter. I was also told to stay away and it was better for the both of them as they wanted nothing to do with me. I stopped sending checks and had no information or way of future contact. 6 months or so later I got a knock on the door and it is my daughter’s mother, and being very upset yelled at her telling her “you have the nerve of showing up here like this!” She left, and I have not seen them since. I have extreme guilt about this, and know I made a huge mistake by letting her go without at least talking to her then. I wish I would have never let her go, I regret it every day now. A couple years later I eventually met someone, got married, and am now divorced. We did have two children together, and I am happy to say we mutually decided that we will always live in the same town and split custody. I finally decided to start a search for my daughter a couple years ago, I can’t stop thinking about her and felt like I needed to try and find out if she was ok. I eventually found her mother using the internet, but could not decide on how to approach contacting her, not ever doing so directly to date. I was however able to meet up with a really good friend of hers recently who was willing to talk to me and give me some information along with some pictures. As of last week I now know that most of the information I got from her parents back then was a lie, and I get the impression her parents wanted me out of their lives at the time, not her. My daughter’s mother has also stated through her friend not to attempt contact, my daughter does not know the man who raised her is not her biological father, and it would destroy everything she knows. Other information about my situation that could be important is that I was not put on the birth certificate when she was born, and my daughter’s mother never married, and my daughter was never legally adopted by the man that raised her. I want a chance to get to know her, and if I am lucky be a part of her life someday, but I don’t want to cause any problems or hurt her and her mother in any way. I don’t know what to do next, and would like some advice on how to approach this. Thank you. S.
Answer: Dear S.: Good for you for approaching the situation thoughtfully and cautiously. Your daughter has been lied to and now you are being told to respect that. That doesn’t make any sense to me or to you, I’m sure.
I think I would do some deeper research on the situation and get some support if I were in your shoes. Talk to a child psychologist, maybe, and even an attorney, if you want to set up a trust for her. Because she is at such a fragile age, just entering into her teens, I think I would wait until she reaches majority and leaves home before I approached her. She needs to know eventually but it is really tough to know what might reinforce her approaching maturity and what might undermine it, by undermining her trust in her mother.
What you want has got to be pretty much set aside and that’s hard as well. You may need a counselor to help you through the feelings you have and being denied the right to express them. It will be hard to step back with the knowledge you now have but in your daughter’s best interest, it may be wise. Blessings, Luise