Well, folks, it’s finally happened. Your friendly neighborhood advice column has achieved its final form: that of an online Maury knock-off, complete with our very first paternity mystery to tackle! I’m just *sniff* so proud. Will we bring peace to this baby mama’s drama? I mean… probably not, right? But that doesn’t mean we won’t give it the ol’ Povich try!
[Not sure who YOUR dad really is? Neither are we! But you can tell us all about it, or anything else, just by sending an email to [email protected]]
I know I was trying to be lighthearted in the intro, but for real: this question is intense AF.
18 years ago I was a stupid 18 year old who got knocked up. My boyfriend and I had only been dating less than a month when I found out. Even though, in hindsight, the timing didn’t exactly add up, we both conceded that he was the father. We’re now married with a 17 year old and a 13 year old. Been together the whole time. Here’s the problem. Through the power of facebook, I was recently reconnected with my ex. The one pre-baby. It is very obvious looking at his pictures that he is the real biological father of my 17 year old. I never thought about it over the years but now I can’t stop. Do I tell anyone? (Anyone being the kid, husband, ex?) Do I let it go and continue living the way we have been for 18 years? There are so many factors. I feel like shit about the whole situation.
Holy shitballs. Ok. First of all: This is just further proof that Facebook is the fucking WORST. And we didn’t need any more proof! But this shit right here? Definitely another solid addition to the “Fuck Facebook In Its Stupid Fucking Face…book” list. If there is one lesson I hope you take from “Ask Pajiba” it’s this: Leave your past behind you, and not on your Friend list.
But setting that aside for a moment, let me just say: Dear Reader, I’m so sorry. Even just reading about your predicament gave me a pit in my stomach, so I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. I’m not good with secrets, or with surprises, and this is like an unholy union of both. Still, the Overlords were strangely united in their reactions to your question. I feel like I say this in this column all the time, but this is YET ANOTHER situation where maybe honesty is not strictly the best policy. Our advice?
Forget you ever saw that picture. Forget you ever had any reason to doubt who the father of your kid is. Lean into your continued ignorance, and let this shit go.
Because look: You still don’t know for sure that your ex is your kid’s father. Facebook photos aren’t DNA tests and genetics are fucking weird. Your kid could be taking after a great-uncle on your husband’s side that no one’s ever heard of, but who happens to look a bit like your ex. Unless you get a proper paternity test done, you won’t know for sure. And until you had a reason to question it, you and everyone else in your family were fine with how things stood. Family isn’t just a matter of blood — it’s what you make of it. And it sounds like you’ve made yourself a lovely family. The person who has been a father to your child for 17 years will still be that kid’s Dad, even if you DO get the test done. Does it really matter to you if he isn’t the biological father?
Now, there are three clear exceptions to this advice. Do you think your husband and/or child will ever see a picture of your ex and have the same suspicion that you do? If you think this is likely to bite you on the ass eventually, then sure — get a jump on it now. Or, far more seriously: Is there a chance that your child might face any genetic diseases that would necessitate knowing who the true biological father is for medical reasons? And the “it’s a small world after all” scenario: Is there a chance your kid could somehow start dating a relative of your ex, and you need to head off any possible incest at the pass? Those are the situations that would give you reason to pursue this issue, but again — get it confirmed, don’t just follow a hunch based on a physical resemblance.
Otherwise? Honestly, this is EXACTLY what deathbed confessions are made for. Write this shit down in your diary or something and leave it for your family to read in like 40 years or whatever, when you’re already gone. But if you DO decide to confide in someone about this, I’d start with your husband. It sounds like you two forged a real, lasting bond, regardless of the circumstances that brought you together or any confusion at the beginning. The very fact that he WAS there with you from the start means that he should be able to understand how this could have happened, and that it certainly isn’t your fault or anything.
And no matter what a paternity test reveals, he is the real father here.
Good luck, Reader.