Good Morning. I have a very challenging situation and I have done months of searching and research. I’ve talked with local social workers, counselors, and parenting class instructors.
About 5-6 years ago I dated a young lady. During this relationship conception occurred with Twin girls. Unfortunately this young lady I dated was also getting involved with her ex-husband. Paternity
of the twin girls was in question during the pregnancy. In the end this young lady decided to work on things with her ex-husband and that she did not want to do paternity and broke off contact / disappeared. It took me 4 years to track her down.
In September 2012 she was served with a Statement of Paternity requesting the courts to require a DNA test and declare me the father of the girls. After much legal stalling DNA testing is happening on February 24th, 2013. I will get the results about a week or two later. The twins share a lot of similar features to me and one of the girls is a spitting image of one of my toddler pictures when I was her age. I feel strongly that DNA is going to come back and declare me the biological father.
The twins are now 4 years old and they do not even know I exist. The twins as far as I know have called my ex’s ex-husband dad. I do know that my ex and her ex-husband split up again in 2010 and he moved away. It is quite possible he has not had as strong as a role in their life since the split. My ex is now with a new partner as far as I understand that she lives with and just had a little boy with him in September of 2012.
The twins have an older sister and a younger brother. It is very likely all conceived children by my ex have a different father.
I will be going through the legal process if the DNA shows me as the father to establish my rights. I am well aware of the confusing and complicated situation this is and I understand the girls are very young and not able to address the complexities of this situation and I want to limit their exposure to it as much as I possibly can.
With the above said, as I mentioned I’ve consulted different professionals with their thoughts and how to approach the situation with the girls. Some have compared it to kidnapping (legal kidnapping) and that even if a child never met a biological parent
the bond is still missing / there for the children to want to naturally bond and accept their biological parentage
So one of the primary questions that is plaguing me that I have been unable to answer: “How and when do I tell the girls that I am their biological father?”
I understand that question is complex as the big variable is it depends on the children. I am curious about other thoughts and perspectives. I’ve taken a Child Behavior and Development course when I was in college and I’ve taken several parenting classes but nothing touches this area / question.
Because of the mixed responses or avoidance I’ve had with the question I’ve come to a different thought process and also want to get a little feedback on it. The children currently carry the surname of their assumed father. Part of my petition will be to add my particulars to the birth certificate but due to this situation I have the right to fight for the children’s surname to be my own or a hyphenated version of my last name and the mother
My thought process is that at 4 years of age they really won’t recognize the name change
as much as they would later in life. They are also not in school yet to have their current names used consistently. By changing their last name at this age to mine they can adjust to the new last name and probably have some questions about the change that can easily be distracted from or answered plainly without any details. As the girls would get visitation time with me they would eventually come to realize we share the same last name and when they are ready will start poising questions to me about our similar last name etc.. Which I feel would allow the girls to open the door when they are ready versus trying to guess or decide when the best time to tell them would be..
So in the end I am looking for feedback to my question poised above as well as the thoughts of the surname change and allowing the girls to come to me when they are ready to ask those types of questions or even their mom.
If there is basis / strength to the surname idea I am curious if there are any articles or journals out there that I have been unable to find that may assist my case quoting professionals in the field of child psychology.
I appreciate your time in reading this.