Q. I was dating a man for 2 years when I got pregnant. He did not want to have a baby and wanted abortion and made it clear he did not want to be involved. I wanted to have the baby so I had a baby boy and moved away.

6 months later I met my now-husband. The birth father has signed his rights over and we are in the process of my husband adopting my son. My son, who is now 5, has a baby sister, and does not know that his daddy is not his father. I feel he needs to know or he will likely somehow find out when he is older and become resentful. How and when is it good to tell him? Although i occasionally talk to his father to update him on my son, he has no interest in my son.

A: You are a very wise woman. Secrets like this rarely stay secrets. It’s far better for your son to hear about this from you and your husband than from someone else. You have control of what and how he is told. His trust in you is preserved. I think you should start talking about it right away.

In many ways, your husband’s situation is the same as any adoptive parent. There are books and websites available to give you some guidance. I did a quick web search of “adoption, telling a child” and found some excellent sites. I suggest you do the same and read about others’ experiences. Then you and your husband should have a careful discussion about what your son needs to know at this time and create a special story that is easy for him to understand. Ideally, you should then tell his story to him together.

Please understand that this is not going to be a one time talk. As your son gets older, he will probably have questions. I hope you can let him know that you are open to whatever questions he might have. If you can be at ease about it, he won’t have to feel conflicted or guilty about wanting to know what is only natural for him to want to know.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jul 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). When do I tell my son his Dad isn’t his bio-Dad?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/07/25/when-do-i-tell-my-son-his-dad-isnt-his-bio-dad/