looking for her dad

Dear Suzie,
I have four children, the first of which is a sixteen year old girl, very mature for her age. I had her as a result of a brief and adulterous(and very stupid, selfish, etc) fling at the age of 20. This broke up my marriage, which with hindsight should never have happened at such a young age, and left me pregnant with my eldest. I have subsequently grown up, remarried and had the other three closely after my daughter.

I have always told her the truth about her parenting, never telling her any lies at all, and of course only giving her appropriate information for her age. She would like to meet her biological father, but I have no idea how to go about finding him, and also, as he wasn’t the nicest of people, I’m quite unsure what his reaction would be towards her, and I do not want her to be hurt by him. I have no problem with her seeing him, but I fear a negative response from him.

What should I do for the best? Also, my husband has brought her up since the age of six months and I don’t want to hurt him either!
Many thanks.

I’m sure she loves the man who has brought her up from babyhood, and thinks of him as her father. And that won’t change. But when she looks in the mirror, when she tries, as all teenagers try, to come to terms with “Who am I and what will I become?” she can’t help but wonder about the man who is her biological father.

I can tell you, from personal and professional experience, that children take on a startling amount of character and even physical aspects from non-biological carers. My own stepson has been told by friends who have met me or seen me on television that he’s very like me. This is why this curiosity and this search won’t break her link with her “real” father – the man who brought her up. But we also carry in us aspects from biological parents even if we never knew them – my own father left when I was 3 months old and yet apparently I have certain traits that are his. So of course she is curious, and of course she would like to see him.

Would helping her get in touch be problematical, for her or your husband? Her father might not have been the nicest of people to you – and may be the same to her. However, people can be dreadful partners but good parents. And people can also grow up and want to do better by those they had let down earlier in life. Whatever, she may need to make the journey even if it ends in a way that you’d find disappointing and he turns out to be the way you remembered him. She may not be as disappointed, if she at least has satisfied a natural need, to know.

The way to deal with this is for you, she and the father who has brought her up need to sit down and talk this over. Recognise and acknowledge the feelings sloshing around – her need to know, your fears of her being hurt, your husbands feelings of anxiety and hurt. Once you can discuss them they can be put into context and proportion. Then contact The Salvation Army Family Tracing Service, at Salvation Army They can trace her father and make the contact, and help all of you through the process in a way that makes it manageable for all of you. I can give you a personal recommendation – they are excellent and sensitive.

The real issue isn’t whether she will trace her father, it’s when and how. Sooner rather than later and with your support and help is best. Good luck!

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