Wednesday, September 9, 2009

For U

My dear friend U has asked me to surprise him, I'm using this as an opportunity to get some feedback on a very difficult issue that plagues me and will for a while, it's my skeleton in my closet:

In 1998 I had left Christchurch, aged 22 years and headed to Massey University in Palmerston North to study to become a Veterinarian. I was already a qualified veterinary nurse but knew I could achieve more and was quite desperate to get away from Christchurch and a bad triangular relationship. I looked at studying Naturopathy in Auckland or studying Veterinary Science at Massey. I chose the Veterinary because I didn't think I could comply with the wishes of the Wellpark College in Auckland that asked you to not consume alcohol in your spare time, I was a bit of a drinker at that time.

I headed to summer school at Massey early January to catch up on some Physics, Maths and Chemistry because I'd been out of the studying game for a few years.
I jumped into it feet first and absolutely loved the brain extension I was getting from the study. A couple of weeks into my Veterinary, February 22nd to be exact, I had a brief liaison with a lovely young man after an Orientation Comedy night at the Uni. Headed into town and proceeded to have my wallet stolen. I was alone and in a club in the middle of a small city where I knew no one other than the younger teens that had been living at my hostel during summer school. I had just moved into a flat the week before and was considering my options to getting home when this lovely young guy came up and started yarning away. He knew the bar staff and got them to do a check and one of them ended up finding my wallet in the alley out the back. All the money was gone but the cards were there so I was sussed. I thanked the guy by buying him a drink. We got to talking about life and study and old flames, we'd both been burnt. We decided to share a taxi as he lived in my direction. Funnily, he never got out of the taxi until my place. At that point I knew he had more in mind than sharing a cab. I thought he was really nice, not my type but a pleasant guy, into his rugby etc and I went with the flow rather than say no. I have since found through counselling that this is the classic response of a rape victim, say yes first before you get the option taken from you. He came in, we bonked at least four times over the night. In the morning he left, all I knew was his nickname, as he walked out I asked why people called him this particular nickname, he pulled out his driver's license and showed me his name and said "because my mother was cruel". His first two names were extremely uncool. I didn't even see the last one, I laughed and agreed that the nickname was better. All I knew about him, from out conversations during the night, was that he was from a certain wee town way up north, he was in his final year of a double degree at Massey and he was a year younger than me.

5 weeks later I discovered I was pregnant. This had been my only liaison with anyone (other than a pash up session with Blair a week before I left for Palmerston North, he was still a friend at this stage remember??) for months so I knew who the father was. I just didn't know who the father was!!!

I did a bit of searching, went through the graduation lists, searched through the rugby clubs via a mate, kept my eyes out at Uni, just never found him.

I then moved back to Christchurch.

In my last trimester of pregnancy I searched again, I went through the microfiche records at the public library of all the children born in 1976. My friend helped me and we got to I and gave up.

I had Peta on the 21st November, 1998. She changed my life for the better. I was independent, living on my own, doing my thing and being a great Mum.

Then when Peta was 5 months old Blair and I got together and never parted. We were old friends with a history of lust for each other and it just developed into more. He immediately became Peta's Dad and always will be. At four or five years old Peta started realising that she was a bit different in colouring to Dad and her little brother Ben. She started drawing pictures of the family at school and her and I were pink and Ben was light brown and Dad was dark brown. We knew it was time to tell her that she had a different biological father. Being the typical woman, I had a big event planned, get Ben babysat, take Peta for a special picnic and tell her. Blair was more nervous than I, the fear of rejection from her was forefront in his mind. That evening, after we'd first discussed that we needed to tell her, Blair went upstairs to say goodnight and came back down about 20 minutes later and said "It's done". What's done?? "I told her", "you fucken what???". I was gutted, this was something I had planned and had much angst over for years and here he had just waltzed up there and told her without me even being involved. He said good night to her and then asked her if she loved Daddy, she said yes. He then said, you do know you have another Dad, one that made you, Mummy was with him and they made you but he wasn't around anymore so me and Mum got together and I am your Dad now. She just smiled and said "Don't worry Dad, you're my Dad and I love you". He had the response he wanted.

She was brilliant about it, asked a few questions, does every now and then but is, all and all, quite grounded about it all. If we had done it my way it could have gone wrong with all the hype that I would have had going on. Blair did it in a subtle, without drama, sort of way and it worked brilliantly, bugger that he is.

Back to the guy.

Every now and then I would search his first two names in Old Friends of FindaFriend or one of those things and then go to the high school in the wee town he went to and try and find photos of the rugby team etc. Just to have the details for her. But was never to any avail. Then came the advent of Facebook. Last January a mate was here staying and she queried me about whether I'd ever looked into it any more. I said no, she wondered if I'd looked on Facebook, I admitted I hadn't even thought of it.

That night I, when Blair and everyone else was asleep I searched his first two names.

And there he was, my god, he was so like Peta. I txt my mate immediately, "Holy hell, what have I done??". She went on, searched him too and found out that an ex boyfriend of his was on the guy's friends list. She emailed him and said "hey, see ........... on your friend's list, i think I know him, where is he from, what's he do with himself?" Almost immediately she found out that he was living in Hong Kong and a banker and holy crap!! I knew his last name, I could contact him right there and then if I wanted to.

I told Blair about it that night, he was less than impressed that I'd gone behind his back, he felt threatened, which is fair enough, then he over reacted and said if I didn't contact the guy he would and just went all emotional and crap about it. My parents also reacted the same, "Why bother at this point, what was I hoping to achieve, Peta was quite happy, wait until she's 18 and then has the option of finding out for herself, what if this guy couldn't have kids, what if he wanted nothing to do with her but his parents were friends of a QC, and being a Hong Kong banker he would have all the money at his disposal to contest custody, it would be okay if you could be a fly on the wall watching his life for 3 months and find out what sort of person he was and then make the decision......" and on it went. I ended up letting it die a natural death and didn't mention it again. I have printed out his picture and written his details down, and details of that night, it's all in an envelope in our files marked "for Peta", should anything happen to me.

I feel justified in my decision but I also feel terrible that the guy has a child he doesn't know about. I think I am doing the right thing, I will never know, we can only but make out decisions based on the information we have at hand on any particular day..... I just hope that my skeleton in my closet doesn't come out to haunt me down the track. I definitely think he needs to know and so does Peta, New Zealand is way too small a place, she could hook up with his son at university and never know she's dating her own brother, it so easily could happen. It's a cross I bear.

18 comments:

AlleyCat said...

Whoah Dude! That is a heavy cross. I agree that Peta needs to know for the reasons you have mentioned at the least. Have you mentioned those reasons alone to Blair? Perhaps he will be ready to deal with it say when she hits 14 or 15 & starts dating for those reasons.

Personally I think medical history is important too - there may be something Peta may need to know.

Asides the bad experience when you hooked up with him, I was thinking if it were Plumbing Boy (as the father who didn't know). I'd imagine he'd want the option of knowing he had a child. He'd want to make contact. Then again, he wouldn't have forced himself on someone either. People can grow up & change though.

I do feel for Blair & understand where he is comming from - it must be incredibly difficult for him. Why can't blokes think like chicks????

All the very best with what ever you decide. I also think that you are caught in a very difficult situation & trying to do the best for all concerned. There probably is no right & wrong answer. You can't destroy your own family & relationship with Blair. You have to find the middle ground & forgive yourself. (((Hugs)))

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Jules,

I had no idea you really meant to pull something out of your closet love.

I think AlleyCat makes a valid point about medical history. I don't think there are right or wrong choices regarding what to do. As you said, "we can only but make our decisions based on the information we have at hand on any particular day..."

You make a decision and move one, that's all one can do.

In a few years when she's older, Peta may way to know more about her biological father. Blair may be able to handle another man in her life by then.

All I can say little sister is, "I'm proud of the wife, woman, mother and friend you are".

Thanks for the dedicated post.

U

Girl Going Skinny (was The Fat Girl) said...

Oh god love, i don't know what to say. But i think your doing the right thing at this stage. Peta is still only young, wait until she's a wee bit older or tells you she wants to find this man etc. This is such a diffuclt situation and only you can decide what is right. I have ever faith in you xx

Ute said...

That there is some heavy shit to have to deal with, I agree... and hey, thank you for sharing it with us.

You're right about wanting to protect Peta from ever hooking up with an unknown relative, I can't imagine how hard that would be to deal with.

And at the same time, having to deal with protecting your rights as a parent.

I think it's a good idea to wait until she is at an age where she is more mature to understand all the history involved... and I'm sure if ever this guy found out, he would understand that you were only protecting your daughters well being.

As a parent, you do what you think is best for your children.. I think you have done the right thing.

Tracy said...

There is no right or wrong answer here. You have no way of knowing his reaction, you don't really know him at all any more.

I disagree with the reasoning about needing to find him for "medical reasons" unless something actually happens & he is needed as a possible donor.

Peta knows she has a different biological Dad, she also knows Blair is her Dad & she loves him & he loves her. IF she makes the decision in the future to find her bio Dad then all I can suggest is that you & Blair help her as much as you can & reiterate how much you both love her.

It is possible she may want a relationship with him - maybe not, she also needs to be prepared that he wants nothing to do with her.

At the end of the day, you have to make the choices that you think are right, years down the track, in hindsight maybe you were wrong but y ou cannot know that until it is too late. If at the end at the day you do what is best for Peta then you have made the right decisions.

Iam sure in years to come, in the heat of teenage temper tantrums there will be threats that she wants to find her real dad etc etc, ignore them she won't mean it.

From a legal perspective, and you would have to check it out, but I believe once the child reasches 11 if there is a custody battle, the judges pretty much base their decision on what the child wants unless there is a very sound reason not to.

Anne said...

My thoughts have been echoed in the comments above. I do feel Peta will probably want to know as she gets older and then this is something you have to decide on then.

Marie said...

I too agree that you are doing the right thing, wait until she's a bit older, or 'when the time seems right'.

Kelly said...

Hey Jules, I'm coming out of lurker land to comment! Because this subject is way to close for comfort!
I believe that you are doing the right thing. Peta should def know when she is ready. I found out about my bio dad when I was 16 and I think I was too young. It comes with so much emotional baggage and I don't think I was ready to deal with it. Sadly I think my dad was even less able to deal with it and that made it even harder on me. The rejection hurts - it's a real bitch. We both tried but in the end I just kept getting hurt so I put an end to any contact at all. Where Peta and I differ though is that she has had a wonderful dad all these years, I never had that so was very keen to have the father daughter relationship, maybe she won't be that bothered since she already has a great one.
Wait until she shows an interest in finding him. At 16 I hadn't reached that point, but we lived in a small town and my bio dad was about to get remarried. Un beknown to me I was babysitting for his ex wife (my own half brother!) and she was a vindictive bitch and told me.
Anyhoo, that's another story.
I think you have done the best thing for Peta and she is so lucky to have a great family!
Kel xxx

Chris H said...

If it was me:
I would tell her I know who her biological father is now.
If she wants to know about him she will ask...
The guy should also be told... he did afterall make a child with you...
You can second guess his reaction all you like, but you are not going to know until you tell him.
There could be positive fallout, or negative fallout.
But there will be fallout.
I think you are duty bound either way.
It will gnaw away at you forever if you do nothing.
Peta will find out eventually... when is the best time? No one knows.
Give her some credit ... she's a good kid with a sensible pair of parents to help her through this.
I know it is a difficult situation... but it is no one's fault.

HannahHandpainted said...

Thanks for sharing. I think you dealt with things very well. As some others said, there's no perfect solution. I'm glad things are going as well as they are.

Hugs,
Hannah

Epskee said...

Wow.

Its so hard to know what to do. My son's father knows he is a dad, but has never met my boy. He also has a number of other children now, so my son has half siblings all over the bloody place.

Its VERY hard to know what to do. I can't say whats right or wrong, and the only advice (or more correctly, information) I can offer is my own choice.

I too have photos, details, points of contact etc so that if the day ever came that I needed to contact his father, well, I could without too much drama. I also have all the details I have gathered/overheard/stumbled upon of his other children and their mothers.

The comment above that says there will be fallout - is absolutely correct. But if things are ok now, why rock the boat? If we are honest, we know there will come a day when this all comes out, and no matter what we do, it will not go "according to plan" no matter what your plan/best outcome may be. Its not something you have any real control over.

Try not to worry about it too much, no matter what you do you will always wonder if another course of action would have been better. Let Peta set the tone. I'm a firm believer that a child will ask when they are ready to know. Its how you know when (and how much) to tell your kids about sex and other complicated and less than desireable subjects, and I think this subject is fundementally the same. My boy is almost 9, and has only a few weeks ago even askeed what his real father's first name was.

Each peice of information he has requested has been given honestly and freely when he was ready to receive it. And whilst it guts me, whilst I hurt for him, whilst I know in my heart he wants to know more and isnt 100% happy with the way things are, he has accepted it all very well.

In reality I will never be able to completely satisfy him, or "fix" the problem as mothers are want to do for their children. The one thing I can never tell him is why he isnt here, why he sees his other children and not my son etc etc. But no answer to that will ever suffice. There will always be a hole that cant be filled for him. As there will be for Peta.

Until you know for sure it will improve her life, wait. Its hard, yes. But a mother's job is to do what is best for her child. And until you can have some certainty that opening this can of worms will improve things for her, or that she is 18/21/whatever and can handle the fallout, then the happy home you and Blair have created is what's best.

Let sleeping dogs lie. At least until you have a big bone to chuck their way if you wake them only to find them snarling at you.

(sorry i hijacked you with such a long comment, but I felt it important enough)

Janine said...

Well having been an adopted child I feelt hat I can comment on this issue. I grew up knowing that I was adopted and accepting that. Because of the laws etc I was not able to find my birth parents names till I was 20, so the day I turned 20 I did. It wasn't because I wanted parents.....i had fantastic ones that cared and lvoed me since day 1, but I needed to know where I was from and more importantly for me I wanted to say thanks. It turned out my birth father did not know I even existed and it came as a shock to him and his whole family. I met them all about 3 months after I initially made contact and although we did not hit it off, I had achieved what I needed to. Now 16 years later my 1/2 sister and I only recently started a relationship, but the timing is now right as we are older and more mature.

I guess my opinion is yes - i think Peta needs to know and so does the "birth father" but go witht the flow, and things will happen when they are meant to.

I think Blair will come around and realise that you are not trying to hurt his relationship with Peta, but you are trying to make sure that she has the full picture to be able to make the decisions she needs to.

The other reason that i feel it is important to bring it out into the open is medical - hereditary conditions are common and it is best to know as much as you can.

Hope some of my story helps, and if you every want to chat just drop me a line.

Middle Child said...

You will know instinctively the right time to act at all - but as Peta grows, might be her who makes that decision - I have no experience here and don't know what i would do.

Steph said...

Wow! There was a period of time many years ago when I thought I was pregnant. I didn't have my period for 3 months. Had THREE false negative pregnancy tests and didn't have the balls to go to the doc and get checked for months. Had I been pregnant, it also would have been the result of a one night stand (more like a one week stand). I thought about it obsessively for those 3 months wondering what I would do, who I would tell, how I could possibly handle a child? I'm so emotionally immature myself. Thankfully I wasn't pregnant but it really got me thinking.

This is just my opinion, and I don't have children so I can't speak from any experience, but if I were that guy and had a 20 year old knock on my door and tell me she's my kid I'd be furious, especially if I found out her mother knew and didn't contact me.

But, then again, I'm not in that situation so I don't know. What a toughie. Ultimately you have to make the decision you think is best for you and your family.

Jules said...

AlleyC: I personally think medical history is important to an extent, if she ever developed something and needed more clarification then all our thoughts and emotions about it all would be pushed aside immediately and her wellbeing the only mitigating factor.

U: My brother from another mother!! Well, you challenged me and it made me start to think, it is quite cathartic to write it all down.

GGS: Thanks darling, you are wise beyond your years.

Ute: Thanks for your thoughts darl.

Tracy: Hey girl, thanks for the info, every little bit helps xx

Anne: I think I just have to cross each bridge as it appears on the road, thanks Annexx

Marie: You too, are wise beyond your years.xx

Kelly: Thanks heaps Kelly, really great to get the child's perspective, god what a bizarre "only in Invercargill" twist to your story. LOL.

Chris: I hear all of your points, they are all valid and I answered you personally in an email so, hope you got it??

Hannah: Thanks darling, it helps to think people outside looking in think I am handling it as well as I can, that is part of the struggle..

Epskee: "let sleeping dogs lie", exactly what my father suggests. I'm building up my freezer's worth of giant bones to handle that waking dog, LOL. Thanks for your input, much appreciated.

Janine: Thanks chick, every opinion helps.

Middle Child: Thanks Therese, you are really a pinnacle to me of wise advise so I really thank you for commenting.

Steph: Hey there sweet, thanks for your thoughts, as I say, every different opinion helps me in some way. I do constantly think about how angry he may be, but as some other person commented, hopefully he will understand that I did what I did in the interest of her feelings and am willing to deal with the fallout that issue may land on me in the future. I also only found out his identity last year when she was ten, I don't know how much a difference 10 or 20 years will make in the anger stakes, not sure, who knows, I could make the decision to contact him soon, if she queries and says she wants to then I will never deny her that, at this point she is quite happy so I lay waiting ....

Memphis Steve said...

That's a huge decision, but one that you don't have to make in any hurry. You have plenty of time to think it over and try to decide what's best.

AlleyCat said...

heya Jules - i completely agree that Peta's wellbeing is the most important thing on the earth. emotional firstly. RE the medical thing, I have a gene propensity for iron overload. can do bad things for my heath. I am the first in my family to know......was thinking about the next generation.....love

Steph said...

Wow Jules that's heavy. I guess in an ideal world your daughter wouldn't need to know until she's ready and able to deal with the ramifications. But then on the other hand, like someone else said, this guy is out there not knowing he has a daughter, yet who knows what his reaction is going to be, and your duty is first and foremost to your girl.
Fuck, I don't know.
I do know this though, if anyone is capable of doing the right thing and dealing with the consequences, come what may, it's you.

Good luck ((big hugs))