I don't know if my boyfriend fathered a baby with his ex: Ask Ellie
Q: When my boyfriend and I were early-dating (a month and a half) he told me his estranged wife was pregnant. They were divorcing, and he was living elsewhere.
He said the child wasn’t his, that she’d been dating someone casually, and the biological father wanted nothing to do with it.
Five months later, he phoned to say he was going to the hospital because he had their daughter with him and his ex-wife wanted her there for the birth. He let me know he’d stayed at the hospital in case her family needed help caring for their daughter. Though I felt uncomfortable, I felt that he was just being kind and helpful.
Two days later, his father’s new Facebook picture was of someone holding a baby whom he said was his son’s second child. I recognized my husband’s hands.
When confronted, my boyfriend claimed she asked him to come into the delivery room, because no one from her family could be there. He’d then called his own father for support there. I tried to give everyone the benefit of the doubt in this awkward situation.
Over the past few years, many incidents have led me to believe this child is his.
His ex-wife sent Father’s Day pictures of the new child with a card saying “handsome just like daddy.”
Everyone in the family allows the boy to call him “daddy.” (He says it’s so his daughter isn’t confused and the boy doesn’t feel neglected.) His parents babysit both children.
The “father” has never been seen or heard from again, no child support was sought, nothing.
Meanwhile, I’ve grown to love this little boy. He’s incredibly sweet. We take both children when it’s our weekend to have them, ever since his daughter asked if he could come too. I couldn’t say no. We have enough love for them both.
My boyfriend and I have started to talk seriously about marriage. I feel that I need to know for certain if the boy is biologically his before we get married. I need to know if he’s been lying to me for the past five years. (I’ve asked him point blank on multiple occasions). What else could he lie to me about?
Am I being unreasonable if I ask for a paternity test? Should it even matter? I love my boyfriend. I love his daughter and her little brother. Do I really need to stir the pot and risk ruining everything?
A: There’s a simple but deeply significant truth here: You love the child, and you love your boyfriend, even though he did most likely lie to prevent you from leaving him.
Since you’ve been so happy as a “family” till now, it’d be a great shame to risk changing that. This was his one big lie so he could help raise his son while holding onto you, trusting in the kind of generous, loving person you are to accept the child.
Many couples who are going through a divorce have had an episode of “make-up sex” — often triggered by anxiety about the future, not renewed interest in staying together.
In this case, the boy was conceived before you and your boyfriend started dating.
Go ahead with your wedding plans without asking the unnecessary question.
Later, when you feel ready, tell him you hope he’s made sure to include the boy in equal measure to his daughter, in his will and all other important considerations for his son’s future.
He’ll understand how lucky he is.
Ellie’s tip of the day
Sometimes, a beautiful, generous-spirited love outweighs all other considerations in a relationship.
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Ellie Tesher is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: