Infidelity is a marriage deal-breaker for many couples. But when there are children involved, things can be a bit more complicated.
A man who discovered his wife cheated on him—after the birth of a child he thought was his—now wonders how to handle the end of his marriage and the future relationship between the newborn child and his two older sons.
Redditor ThrowRAkidilemma posted:
"My wife gave birth to a (Black) baby that clearly isn't mine, and I'm divorcing her."
"But I'm worried about the relationship between my two kids and their new half-sister."
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
"A month ago, my wife gave birth to a Black baby girl. We're both White, so she was forced to admit that the child was a result of a one night stand last year."
"I've started divorce proceedings, although we're still living together for now."
"Between our two boys (aged 2 and 4, I've had paternity tests for them and they came back positive), her infant daughter and her having lost her job due to [the pandemic], living together as amicably as possible until the divorce is settled is an unfortunate necessity."
"Naturally I have no ill will towards the baby, and I've been disgusted by some of the comments I've heard from family members, friends, coworkers and others, all who seem to be fixated on the racial angle of this. As if the most salient part of this isn't that my wife cheated, but that she cheated with a BLACK man and that the baby is BLACK."
"What really worries me is that my two sons might pick up on these narratives. They're too young to really understand what's happening now, but I'm worried that as they grow to understand the situation that they might grow to resent their half-sister for 'breaking up their parents marriage'."
"And worse that their resentment might express itself in a racist fashion, under the influence of the aforementioned racist narratives."
"Any thoughts on how I should try to influence my son's away from that perspective? It probably doesn't help that we live in a suburb with very few Black people and their half-sister is really the only Black person my children know."
Redditors gave consistent advice that the OP needed to lead by example.
"If you're ever around the baby girl after this is all over the way you treat her is what your kids will pick up on."
"I'm not sure how you're handling this now or how you'll handle it in the future, but if you can manage to be loving toward her and show some kind of interest in her it will help the boys to see that she has value in your eyes."
"I think that would be a big deal for them." ~ unpopular-aye-aye
"I used to nanny for a family where the father was married and had a daughter, cheated, got remarried to another woman, and had a son. The second wife eventually also left the father, then he got married to ANOTHER woman, had another baby and got divorced AGAIN."
"The mothers of all three babies are great friends. They have family Christmases with just the mothers and kids, they go on vacations together, one of the moms is very well off so she pays tuition for her son's half-sibling."
"They all consider each other family for their kids' sakes, because they want them to be raised as siblings 100%, not just at Dad's house. It's a really beautiful thing."
"It's possible, OP. It's certainly difficult and it takes serious emotional maturity, but in the end it will be worth it for your children." ~ agkemp97
"He left her and had another kid. Last birthday party I went to, all six kids were there, along with the oldests' mom and her youngest from another relationship and my BFF's boyfriend's kids."
"As far as my godchildren are concerned, they're all their brothers and sisters. The kids' moms all get along, except for the ex's newest wife but she's young and has time to come around."
"As long as there's love, it's all good." ~ TherannaLady
The OP returned with an update.
"Unfortunately my last post was locked, but I received a lot of helpful PMs from people. I'm particularly thankful for those who've lived through a similar situation(or have family and friends who've done so) and sent me advice on how this affected them and how to navigate the situation."
"I'd also like to thank the hundreds of mouth-breathing bigots who spammed my inbox."
"The big takeaway for me was that if I'd need to lead by example here, not excluding her in any way because of her paternity so that she and my sons would see her as a full member of the family. Also that I need to be more active in confronting the bigoted and ignorant nonsense I've been hearing, and teach my sons to do the same to protect their sister."
"I've spoken to some of those responsible since and made clear my feelings on this, and that she is to be treated as a member family, and that if I ever find out that they've said things like that to my sons or their sister that they won't be allowed around us anymore."
"I've spoken to my wife about this, and we're more or less on the same page."
"She's been begging me to forgive her and not go through the divorce, but that's not going to happen. Even if I didn't consider the cheating unforgivable, I just don't feel any love for her any more, other then a platonic affection for her as the mother of my children."
"My sons are handling this as well as can be expected."
"The 4 year old doesn't fully understand, but is upset by the change in the household, thankfully he's easily distracted. The 2 year old is thankfully too young to comprehend what's going on, but has definitely picked up on how withdrawn his mother has become."
"They're both fascinated with their new little sister, so there's that silver lining."
"My wife [on the other hand] isn't in good shape at all. She was depressed even before the birth, and now with everything—our divorce, her infidelity being revealed and the backlash from family and friends, PPD, and the exhaustion from raising an infant—she's barely functional."
"She's seeing a therapist, and I've been pressuring some of our family and friends to be supportive of her because even if they think she deserves it her current state is making it harder for me and our children."
"It's become very obvious to me that even after the divorce is finalized we're going to have to live together for a while longer. She's in no shape to be taking care of three kids without someone else around to support her, and I'm not willing to deprive her of her sons by seeking sole custody."
"It's also too difficult financially, since she's lost her job because of [the pandemic]."
"As for the baby girl, she's healthy and fairly easy by baby standards. Since I've been helping care for her, I've bonded with her and I've discussed the possibility of adopting her with my wife."
"She can't contact the father, as the only thing she knows about him is his first name. And given our coparenting situation it feels like adopting her as my daughter would be the best outcome for all involved."
"HOWEVER, there's been a wrench thrown in that plan. It was brought to my attention that there may be a way of finding the baby's father, namely by having her DNA tested by AncestryDNA. If the father or one of his relatives has also taken the test, we may be able to find him through their DNA match database."
"If I'm being completely honest I'm not happy about this."
"I've already started to think of the baby girl as my daughter, and having him in our lives would massively complicate the family dynamic. Plus we live in Seattle and she met him in Philadelphia, so god knows how they'd even make it work if he wanted to be the kid's father."
"However, I recognize that this is a selfish reaction."
"If we have a chance of finding her biological father we owe it to her do so, if only so that she has access to her paternal medical history and so that she can have a relationship with him if and when she chooses to do so. I've read a few accounts by children raised by non-biological parents and a common thread is their desire to meet their lost biological parent, so thats that."
"We've ordered an AncestryDNA kit for her, and I guess we'll decide our next steps once we get the results back in a couple of months."