Anyone who has ever kept a big secret from their family risks igniting drama when that secret is finally revealed.
But are some secrets worth holding on to despite the potential backlash?
Redditor familyaffairs467 recently found himself in that predicament after a long-held secret finally came to light.
So he turned to the subReddit "Am I the A**hole" (AITA) to find out if he was wrong for his actions, asking:
"AITA for never telling my parents I had a son that was given up for adoption?"
The original poster (OP) explained his big secret and his reasons for keeping it.
"My parents were very cold, strict, and controlling people almost my entire life. Very religious and always cared about how the rest of their church viewed them so they were even harder on me to always be 'perfect.'"
"I was out of the house at 18. I didn't have any money since my parents never let me work so I lived with friends."
"My girlfriend and I were only 19 when she got pregnant. Neither of us with a place of our own, no money. We weren't at all prepared to be parents."
"Despite trying to break away from our parents strict religious views, we still felt guilt about considering abortion (I'm completely pro-choice btw but personally we couldn't bring ourselves to do it) and looked into adoption instead."
"We went through the process and our son was adopted by a nice enough couple."
"It hurt for a long time but we eventually moved on with our lives. The thing is, I never told my parents anything. I feared what they would do if they found out."
"Yes, at that age I still feared them. Mostly afraid they would try to adopt him instead and raise him in the same dysfunctional household, which I couldn't allow knowing how they'd be."
"We were no contact at all when this was happening and didn't speak until after 15 years. My dad had a heart attack and was in the hospital. I reached out and helped while he was in recovery."
"They both wanted to mend our relationship since this was sort of a wake up call and while it's not perfect & they're in some ways still stuck in a certain mindset, I know they have tried to be more open and loving."
"Now when my bio son was adopted, we agreed he was free to contact us once he was older and that's exactly what he did when he was 19. 'Ben' has been in my life for almost 2 years and it's been such a blessing getting to know the wonderful man he grew up to be."
"Ben has expressed interest in meeting my parents as he's already met my ex's parents. He knows the whole story about them and that they don't know about him at all."
"He's fine if I don't want them to know but I decided it was time anyways and decided to speak with them."
"Boy was it a major disaster."
"My mom was so upset she was almost in tears and my dad wouldn't even look at me. They acted like I was a monster for never telling them they had a grandchild out in the world and also angry at the fact that I “gave him away" when they would've given him a home."
"They were far to upset so I left the house."
"Despite having confirmation that they would've tried to adopt him and it was the right choice not to let that happen, I have gotten a lot of talks from my mom's family agreeing adoption was the best choice but that my parents still had the right to know of their own grandchild's existence."
"For that, they believe I was in fact wrong for keeping them from knowing this. I understand lies, especially of this magnitude, would blow up eventually anyways, but I am questioning whether my choice was so bad I'm TA for it."
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You're The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
They assured the OP that he did the right thing for both himself and his son.
"NTA. You went no contact for years for a reason. They probably wouldn't have raised that boy any better than they raised you."
"Letting them know they had a grandchild would've probably caused a sh*t show, you kept that out and let you and your son have semi-normal and healthy lives."—ThrowRA_Cottage
"NTA Exactly this!"
"You did the right thing for your son. It was the best option for him. You gave him a life out of that toxic environment."
"You have confirmation now that they would have tried to adopt him themselves... That should be enough to reassure yourself that you did right for your child."—ChiisaiHobbit
"NTA. You did the right thing to protect him from them."—SomeoneSomewhere1984
"NTA. You and your ex gf made the best choice for him."
"I am close to your parents' age and a Christian."
"It sounds like maybe your parents got so bogged down in trying to 'look like' a Christian family that they forgot to act like Christ."
"If you and your girlfriend had felt safe coming to them for help and advice they would have known about your son."
"Tell your extended family to kindly butt out; if you didn't feel that you could go to them 20 years ago you certainly don't need their advice now."
"Tell your parents that you made the best decision for your child years ago and that you plan to enjoy whatever relationship you can have with him now."
"Tell them that they need to pray about whether they want to be a part of that or not; but that that is dependent on them casting aside blame and offering and accepting forgiveness."
"This old lady is praying for continued reconciliation, love and joy for birth and adoptive families."—nannylive
One Redditor even weighed in with their own childhood horror story.
"I grew up in a fundamentalist cult."
"I never would have wanted my own child to be raised in that environment. When you are extremely sheltered, manipulated, controlled, and terrified by your parents, it is very difficult to make adult decisions."
"You were extremely young at the time. You did what you thought was best for your son, and gave him a good life. You arguably made the best decision you possibly could've made for him."
"Hindsight is 20/20, and maybe you should have told your parents. But your reasons for not telling them are valid."
"I remember very well how easily I caved to my parents' whims, despite trying to stand up for myself. What if they had hounded you day after day after day. Would you have been able to maintain your resolve, and give 'Ben' up for adoption?"
"They would've placed an insane amount of guilt on you. I know that if it were me I would never want a child raised in that environment, but the pressure from my own parents would have been insane."
"Your parents are mad now, but they would have been mad for the last 19 years if you told them."
"With the knowledge that you have now, you might question if you should have told your parents about your decision. I don't think there is an easy answer for that, but you did it from a sense of self preservation - not to hurt them or to be spiteful."
"I'm not a cruel person. Despite the differences I have with my parents, I don't deliberately hurt them."
"But a part of me feels like you should simply look your parents right in the eyes, and say that you decided to keep the knowledge of 'Ben' from them because of how they treated you growing up."
"And you didn't want your own son raised with the same sense of despair. But I also know how parents like ours play the victim, and it would only make things more volatile."
"When my parents tell me they are disappointed with me now, in my own head I just shrug my shoulders like, 'you were never proud of me growing up, so how is this different?' The only difference is that now I live my life to take care of myself first."
"I wish I had more words of comfort or encouragement. I think you just need to find peace in the fact that you made the best possible decision for 'Ben.'"
"They can either choose to be in a relationship with you and your son, or they can continue to play the victim, and not be part of your lives."—Gnomer81
The OP thanked them for the reminder.
"I feel you and I grew up with the exact same parents."
"At that age I know I would've done anything they asked me no matter how hard I tried to be defiant. It's the reason why I knew having no contact at all was the best way to finally break away from their control."
"Thank you for this. It's very reassuring during a time like this, when it feels like the rest of the world is against you, to be reminded that this was the best choice."
"I am beyond proud of the man he's become. I don't think that would've been possible had he gone with them."
And really, that's all that matters.
We're glad the OP could find the positive in such a tumultuous experience.