Avatar universal

Paternity of my son

My wife and I have been married 26 years and have an 18yr old.  There is an ex-boyfriend of hers who she dated for 4 years, and had an abortion with prior to s meeting.  They ended their relationship and he became best friends with her brother so he still around today.  Per my wife, they remained secretly intimate for another 6 years - only months before we met.  He is still around, back them he around often.
Her behavior is always very odd when he is around, and while I never paid much attention to it, I found it to be very odd.  Her brother has moved away but recently this guy has been popping up in our lives in the most peculiar ways.
My son is now 18 yrs old, and frankly the resemblance is shocking.  Long story short, I had facial recognition paternity algorithms run on both him and my son, and me and my son.  He and my son came back at 88%, with 6 out of 8 features at 100%.  My son I came back at 45% with 1 feature out of 9 at 100% - a feature that scored 100% on the other test.   I approached her and he reaction was panic.  At first she offered to get a true DNA test done, then within days she told me to to myself and listed out the repercussions.  I'm just interested in any thoughts that might provide me some insight.  I
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134578 tn?1642048000
What repercussions did she list out? Ones to you? Or to your son?
Helpful - 0
It started off with simply me having just egg on my face, but it morphed through several renditions until she would take the house and kids, our family, her family and the other family would all be ruined.   She also got into having me put in a mental institution.  I expected if i were wrong, I'd have egg on my face, and that she might opt to divorce, but the test could still be private - between her and I.  Going to the extent of rhreatening to make it public seems to me to be an effort to stop any notion of testing altogether.  If she couldn't forgive me for doing such a test (eventhough she has already seen the Facial Recognition test) but threatening to make it public regardless doesn't need to happen, and frankly would decimate my son.  Now she avoids the subject at all costs.  Similar situations where friends have separated due to infedelity, the topic is changed, avoided, if acknowledged at all.  Her behavior is more suspicous now than ever, and I think she realizes it is, but cant control it.  
Your family has a lot to lose in this situation, and it sounds like she is panicking because she realizes it. (Incidentally, I don't see how she could reasonably think she could put you in a mental institution.)

Are you in the United States? Here, the man who is married to a woman when she has a baby is legally the father. This means that all of this time and more, he is your son both by love and by law, no matter what the biology of the situation is. If you don't want to lose him as your son, you have some emotional decision-making to do. (There is a different set of issues if you were to want to detach from him legally, but the costs to your family seem very high, especially to your son, and it seems a conclusion worth avoiding at all costs.) You also have to work out what to think of your wife, and at what age your son should be made privy to this question about his biological background.

In your shoes, I would see a therapist that is trained in family counseling. Your wife does not need to go, this is about you deciding how you are going to continue to have a family life at least as long as it takes for your other children to grow up. You also have to consider what to do about the fact that your wife may have lied to you, and decide what your relationship will be with her given that. (Presumably the other children are from you.)

Obviously in this forum, I receive letters from women in the position where they don't know who the father is for sure all the time.  I can say that what often happens for the woman in this situation is that she chooses the man who she most hopes is the dad, and shuts her eyes and prays it is true and hopes it never gets questioned. They are usually afraid their whole world will fall apart if man most concerned (the innocent party) were to even find out that there is a need to do a DNA test; they are certain he will leave them (alone and pregnant) if he were to learn he is not the biological father or even that she cheated. This is how it starts. But unfortunately they don't realize that by their silence, the lie has to keep going (if it's a lie). By staying silent due to fear, they pile year after year on top of the original omission. This can ultimately make the situation so difficult for the woman emotionally that she does act crazy. Also, letting a child grow up with an unspoken fact behind his birth is cruel to the child. Many people have written memoirs about learning later in life that the guy they thought was their biological dad, who raised them and loves them, is not their biological dad, and they often say it destroyed them emotionally, not because they aren't from the guy they thought they were from, but because nobody told them. (This is like an adoptee finding out that he was adopted when the parents never told him. It makes the child feel adrift, at least temporarily, unless he or she is told in the right way, which would be "We just love you so much that your biological parentage didn't even cross our mind as being significant. You are our son.") I think your most important concern in this situation has to be your son and your other kids.

Your son does have the right to know this about himself (if it is true), and (unfortunately for you) he has the right to know his biological dad, the same way an adoptee has the right to learn about his biological family. I don't think you can ultimately hide the story from him. It is better (for his sake) to tell him that nobody knew, or that only his mother suspected, and that you only recently wondered. As you can see, this spin on things might give your wife a bye, especially if you are angry at her for all the years of omitting to tell you this important information. But it will preserve your son emotionally, and probably also his relationship with his siblings. For their sakes, the more ho-hum you can make the biological part of it, the better.  (It also removes power from the other guy to hold the possibility over your wife's head. For all you know, he is coming around not because he has any interest in her but because he's curious about this boy, and is threatening her that he will tell the kid. It isn't his right to tell the child, it is your right.)

There are families where the father did know from the day of the marriage that his pregnant bride had a baby from someone else, and of course lots and lots of men have married a woman with children already, and have simply made the decision to take the child(ren) as their own. Your wife didn't give you that choice, and that was unfair, and she never confessed there was a question, which was wrong of her. And at some point you will have to decide what this means to the two of you. But families with kids who are a biological mix do go on as happily as any other family. The story of this one or that one's biological background isn't spread about publicly, but it is not hidden as a horrible secret either. It's treated matter-of-factly as something not really very significant, since you're a family. That's the healthiest thing for the child. No kid wants to feel like he was unwanted or an accident. That's why it is shattering later for an adult to learn such a secret, the fact that it was hidden from him by the people who supposedly love him makes him feel like they lied to him all his life, and there goes his trust in the world.

Talk to a counselor about what this all means, and how you can tell your son, and how you can preserve your family's serenity and security. Later work out what this means about your wife. I would tell the son that there is a question at the point where you decide to do a DNA test, and I would tell the other kids (in as offhand a way as you can manage) once you know for sure. But they all should know that it doesn't change anything, and life goes on as before.

Avatar universal
You and your wife have lived, laughed, cooked, slept and vacationed together for a quarter century. That is something not easily put aside. Could you tell yourself to quit worrying about the paternity of the child you have called your son all these years. What would happen if you told your wife it is not important to you who is the father. The only thing you ask is that she tell her ex to quit hanging around - it makes you uncomfortable.
Helpful - 0
But, what would he tell his son? (And, what if the ex tells the son what he suspects? I am wondering if this is why his wife is so nervous with the ex around; she is afraid he will say something.)

At this point, the o.p. suspects the situation enough to have done a (not 100% reliable) kind of test. But his son is 18, and with companies out there doing ancestry DNA searches for fun, it's possible he will do one some day to learn more about his background. (My son is only 14, and he's already interested in doing one.) If the suspicion gets confirmed, the son will feel like his parents (especially his mother) misled him all his life, and (according to what people who have found out later in life that their paternity was not as they expected) will feel like he doesn't know who he even is any more. Kids in this situation consistently feel like their parents either lied to them or hid something from them, their whole life. It is apparently more shattering for the person involved than one who has never had it happen might suspect.

If the son tests and the result comes out as the o.p. fears, both of the parents would have to pretend they never knew nor suspected, and they'd have to be the best actors in the world and act thunderstruck and amazed, to preserve their son's sense of belonging and identity. If the guy and his wife can carry on this act and the son believes they never knew, maybe it would work. But there is still the wild card of the ex blurting something out before the parents would wish the son to even wonder about such a thing. I think he's hanging around because he thinks the boy is his son and wants to know him. He won't take being shooed away lightly if this is so, and who knows what he might say.

I understand the approach you suggest when it comes to the guy's relationship with his wife. If the suspicions the guy has are true, she did him wrong but it was long ago (except that she hasn't come clean in the meantime). This is probably why the couples the o.p. knows who have dealt with infidelity in the past have stayed together and just not talked about it, what good would it do to rake up old grievances?  And if this were the 1940s where there would never be a way for the son to find out, I'd say let all the sleeping dogs lie. But in this day and age (and especially with the ex in the picture who might say anything to the kid if told to go away), I don't think the father can keep such a big question from his son. When and how to broach the subject with the son is the issue he faces now, later he can decide about his relationship with his wife.
And besides, the son does have the right to know his genetic identity. Hate to say it because it makes things more complex. But a dad knowing something like this (given, of course, that his suspicions prove to be correct) and not telling his son is withholding a pretty big piece of information.
Avatar universal
I thought about letting the son know that his mom once dated this guy. It would not take long before he asked the obvious question, and the answer could be “It’s not that important. I’ve loved you all these years, and always will. If it bothers you, you and I can sometime do a DNA test to know for sure. “
Helpful - 0
Not knowing the guy's son, it's hard to speculate how that would go over. If my dad had said it to me at age 18, especially if he said "It's not important," I would feel like of course it was important and how could he even say such a thing? But him saying "I've loved you all these years and nothing would be different no matter what the DNA test said" might work.
Avatar universal
a) If boy in question, or his offspring, ever does DNA testing on their own, for ancestral curiosity, they may discover this, on their own.  Entirely possible the boy too will notice the resemblance.
b) Even bringing it up is rattling your wife.  Clearly she expects ruin to come from even discussing DNA testing was done.  I'm surprised you discussed it with her, because the innuendo alone can be damaging to a relationship.  It says clearly that you suspect she was still sleeping with this guy while married.
c) Continuing down this path with questions and/or testing can have dramatic shifts in all three of your relationships.  The sole question here is are you prepared for that.  It's already changed your relationship with your wife, and likely will change your relationship with your son.  And at best will confirm your 18 year old is or is not your son, and not who is his father if not you.  Because if not you, old boyfriend would also have to consent to test.
Helpful - 0
I agree that the son might someday do a DNA test, which is why I wrote above that the dad ultimately can't try to hide the question from his son.

The last comment, though, I don't think so. If the test between the legal father and son shows no biological relationship, it will be clear what happened 19 years ago whether or not the other guy ever gets tested. There is no other candidate according to the dad, and he already has done a facial recognition paternity algorithm test that suggests {but by no means proves) there is a legitimate question. It also sounds like the ex is purposefully hanging around, maybe not sure but definitely curious, so probably as a practical matter, if the father's test comes back negative, there would no issue about the ex's willingness to test.

If the o.p. is still reading in, I do hope you understand that you are still this boy's father, no matter what a paternity test says. Biology is not parenthood. By 18 years of love and care, and by the law, you are your son's dad. This is going to be interesting to your son, and to your family as well, but it doesn't have to be shattering or traumatic. Talk to your counselor and remember that all you have to say to your son is that he is your beloved child.
" according to the dad...", " there would no issue about the ex's willingness to test"
Both are total speculation.  Negative test only says who isn't the father, and from there either mother comes clean, or boy may be chasing Who is?
There are at least 3 relationships in play when opening/pursuing this question: mother->son, mother->husband, husband->son.  And possibly another set, ex-boyfriend and [any/all of the three].
"all you have to say to your son"
Another overly simplistic presumption.  Boy may say bye, to both parents.  Ancestry.com only advertises the Warm Fuzzy scenarios, and not the My Family Blew Apart scenarios.
If you read all of the above, the information given by the original poster and also all the responses, you will find that everyone is responding to the fact that his primary concern is that he doesn't want to destroy his son. (Secondarily, he has to decide what to do if he finds his wife was unfaithful years ago.) The problem is that the clock is ticking on the issue because the son may test on his own some day, or could simply figure out the possibility because the other guy who keeps hanging around and makes his mom nervous. The ex doesn't need to test for what the dad wants to know, but all the relationships involved hinge on his dealing with this with care. Thus, the recommendation he talk to a family counselor about the whole story.
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