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Dear Counsellor: Product of INFIDELIT

Dr Karelle Hylton, PhD Counselling Psychologist

DEAR COUNSELLOR:

AM 14 years old and I just recently found out that the man I know as my 'father' is not my biological father, and that my biological father is married, resides in Cayman, and I have one younger and two older siblings. My mother recently died from ovarian cancer and my 'father', in his grief, told me all this when he was drunk. I am still in shock! I am numb and in disbelief. My world, as I have known it, has been turned upside down and I am not sure where to go. I feel like an alien. I want to run away and hide. I am embarrassed to know that I am the product of an affair and that my 'father' feels justified that I should know my real father, as he does not want the responsibility of taking care of me anymore. Apparently, my 'father' is infertile and so when my mother visited relatives in Cayman, she had an affair with my biological father and, upon returning to Jamaica, she assumed that I was my 'father's'. However, a DNA test was conducted and it was confirmed that I was not his. They, apparently, came to some understanding and the matter was left there until now. Please help me!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PB

Dear B.P,

 My condolences to you on the death of your mother. I can empathise with you on the varying types of grief you are experiencing at this moment. Not only are you grieving a death, you are grieving a loss of identity —the father you thought was your biological father is not. You have also become aware of the existence of another 'family' —father and siblings. The knowledge that you are a product of an extra-marital affair is another factor you may need to come to terms with. In addition to all of this, the condition of how you were told would suggest that all the emotions and experiences you are facing are expected, and quite normal.

It seemsquite a lot that one so young will have to process. With all the factors concerned in your life at this time, there are a lot of matters that need to be addressed.First, let me hope that you are in a safe environment and that for the moment your 'father' is still your caregiver. In his grief and, unfortunately, his drunken state, he would have said what he did not with the intention to hurt you, but out of sheer grief, becauseyour mother and he would have made that decision some time ago to accept the circumstances of your coming into the world. Therefore, your mother and your 'father' must have resolved that issue. I must say that your life experiences will be interesting, at best, and revealing, at worst.

I hope that your 'father' has the contact information for your biological father and, as such, he may want to reach out to him.

Now, he (your biological father) may or may not know about you. That is another life experience that you will encounter should you want to meet him and your siblings. Hearing that your 'father' is in the process of grieving himself, let me hope that your support can come from extended family members — grandmother, aunt or uncle.

You did not say,however, if you have your 'father's' name; there may be legal issues at hand here as well. You should understand that none of what is happening is your fault. Events happen in our lives that we have no control over; we just have to process and hope that experience builds us and we become stronger for experiencing it —whatever it is. This is an example that 'family does not have to be blood relations, but based on the care and affection persons share'.

I do believe that my response will not be sufficient to take you through the presented issues;therefore, I would suggestthat you speak to a counsellor about the matters you have shared with me. Both your 'father' and you ought to seek the help of a counsellor —for grief counselling and family counselling. I surely hope that the matter can be resolved in best interest. Be well.

Dr Karelle Hylton, PhD Counselling Psychologist karelle hylton@ yahoo.com

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