I see it everyday. Another person learns through DNA testing or other ways that the person they believed was their biological father isn't. Or that both the people they believed were their biological parents aren't, in fact, their biological parents. And I feel their pain, I really do. I have, as they say, been there and done that. It can be a bit of a shock, even if you are partly expecting it.
Why do people think lying is OK? As a child I was taught lying is bad. Ironically, I was taught this by my mother, who apparently didn't apply that morality to her own self, as she took the secret of who my father really was to her grave. And lately, I think I will never truly learn why she lied.
Adoptive parents sometimes lie and lead their children to believe that they are their biological children. I don't believe that adoption has to be an ugly thing, something that should be hidden at all cost. And there is a cost to lying. People who believe otherwise are lying to themselves as well as others. When a parent lies to a child, trust is lost, and the child then begins to doubt everything the parent has told them. Believe me, I know. I think many adoptive parents have good intentions when they lie. Some are just protecting themselves and their own image of the family, but some really do just want the child to feel that they belong, that they are as loved as other biological children in the home, want to spare them the knowledge of the far-less-than-deal situations (ie conceived from rape, drug addicted parents etc) that they were born into.
I do believe some children are better off not being raised by their biological parents. I know many adoptees. Many are quite happy with their adopted parents, some not so much. I know many people who weren't adopted. Many are quite happy with their biological parents, some not so much. People can be happy or unhappy with the upbringing regardless of being adopted or not. All adoptees don't wish they were raised by their biological parents, and some people who were raised by their biological parents wish they have been adoptees!
Here's the thing. Years ago, a woman could put another mans name on her child's birth certificate instead of the biological father's name and have a reasonable expectation that the lie would never be revealed. If she was unsure who the father was, she could name one of the possibilities and quite possibly keep the truth to herself forever.
That was then. This is now. Now, people do DNA testing all the time. The cost is low (under $100 for an autosomal test) and people will test on a whim. They will test because a distant cousin asked them to for genealogy purposes. They will test because they are curious if they have any Native American ancestors, how much Neanderthal DNA they have, what their health risk may be, what color the eyes of their children would likely be, and a ton of other reasons. Had the cost of testing been what is it today I would tested years earlier than I did. The 4 digit price tag was all the kept me from testing myself and my (now I know half-) sister, and learning that my mother did not tell me the truth when I asked her point blank about my biological father.
Odds are quite high that if you lie to your children (even children who are adults already today) that they will learn the truth in their lifetime. Probably in your lifetime. And when they do, the fact you lied is going to make the situation worse. Chances are good that they already have a clue.
I have mixed feeling about this. I believe that everyone should tell the truth, and quickly, before they are caught lying, but that doesn't mean I don't have compassion for the people who are in unfortunate circumstances. For some parents who are lying it is rather unfair they now need to come clean. I don't deny that. If a husband and wife opted for anonymous sperm or egg donors, or both, they at the time believed there was no way, ever, that the donor could be identified. For many of them, this was the reason they used an anonymous donor and not a relative or family friend etc. They wanted to be the only parents in the child's life. Now, there is a good chance the donor can and will be identified. And they potentially are stuck with this new person, or persons, being in contact with their child (likely adult child), who they technically picked but as an anonymous donor not for the child to be in contact with! But in the end, the truth is the truth. How would the parents feel if their daughter started a sexual relationship, even marriage, with the biological father, or a half sibling, not knowing that this genetic connection existed? That it is fine, they aren't "really" related? I think not.
Lying is bad, even with good intentions. Sure, when we ask our husbands "Does this dress make me look fat" we don't want to hear "Heck yeah! You look like a cow in that!" but if we are on our way to an important job interview we do want to be told that what we are wearing is inappropriate if it is. We just want to be told gently and with compassion. So, in conclusion, if you are lying to someone about their true genetic origins, please, come clean, and quickly, but do it with compassion for all parties involved.
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