CAROLINE WEST-MEADS: Should I try to contact my secret son?
Q More than 40 years ago I met a woman at work – she was a sales rep for one of our suppliers. Although she had a steady boyfriend we went for drinks a few times and one night she ended up staying over at mine. This became a regular thing. She would phone whenever she was going to be in town.
Suddenly it stopped then, after about a year, she turned up at my workplace, baby in arms. I thought perhaps she had married her long-term boyfriend. I held the child as we talked, but she made no mention of a partner.
She had given her baby the same name as me. After ten minutes she left and that was the last I heard from her. I tried tracing her but she had left her company. In due course I married and had children. But several years later I was thinking about her and decided to check the birth records. I discovered that I was registered as her baby’s father on the birth certificate.
I have started thinking about what happened to her and the baby. Her son probably has his own family by now. I don’t know what he was told about me but I’ve been wondering if I should contact him.
I was thinking about her and decided to check the birth records. I discovered that I was registered as her baby’s father on the birth certificate. Stock image used
A Sadly it seems you’ve been hiding from the truth for many years. Because even though all the facts point to him being your son, you still seem to feel that there is room for doubt. Even though she dropped very heavy hints, I do wonder why this woman never told you directly that you were the father and didn’t want you in her son’s life.
Maybe she sensed hesitation – perhaps realised that you didn’t love her – and decided to raise the baby alone. She was certainly not seeking to conceal that you were the father from any boyfriend or husband as she named you on the birth certificate. It was unfair of her not to tell you directly about your son because she deprived you of the chance of getting to know him – and he you. Maybe he was even told that you’d died.
However, you have also abdicated responsibility. As we grow older we can gain greater perspective and want to make amends, so perhaps this is what motivates you now. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer as to whether you should contact your son because there is no knowing whether this would be in his interests. I certainly wouldn’t contact him without first trying to trace his mother and asking what he knows.
You also need to consider your wife and children. Does she know that you might have fathered a child before you met her? I feel she should, so please contact support agency pac-uk.org (advice line 020 7284 5879) to talk this complicated situation through.
MY ELDERLY MUM DOESN’T WANT TO GO INTO CARE
Q I feel very alone with my situation. My 98-year-old mum, who lives independently, is having periods of confusion – she has been admitted to hospital as they have been so severe. We have spent many hours there, but they discharge her as soon as possible, saying it’s better for her to be in her own environment.
Her daily carers contact me if they have concerns but I don’t know how to deal with it; I have no purpose beyond being ‘on call’ 24/7. I would feel happier if she was in residential care but I know it’s not what my mum wants. It leaves me feeling guilty for wanting to have a life other than looking after her.
Her daily carers contact me if they have concerns but I don’t know how to deal with it. Stock image used
A Firstly, please don’t feel guilty. There is nothing wrong with wanting a life beyond your caring role. Given your mum’s age, I expect you have been doing far too much for far too long and are exhausted. Perhaps the most terrifying part of caring for an elderly parent is when they need full-time help but, for whatever reason, that hasn’t yet happened.
I know she says she doesn’t want to be in residential care but have you ever heard anyone actively say they do?
However, it sounds as though your mother could be a danger to herself. If she is suffering from severe confusion, then she could accidentally set the house on fire, or fall and hit her head. Sometimes full-time care really is the only option. So please do ring adult social services, explain that she is not safe living alone and ask what they can provide.
Also contact Age UK (ageuk.org.uk; advice line 0800 678 1602). They can advise on emotional support for you, and how to get your mum the care she clearly needs.
If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email [email protected]. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @Ask_Caroline_
CAROLINE READS ALL YOUR LETTERS BUT REGRETS SHE CANNOT ANSWER EACH ONE PERSONALLY
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