Dad finds out that his 23-year-old son is not really his, and now the son wants to change his last name.

Just recently, I took a trip to sunny Miami, Florida. While out on the town with some friends, I struck up a conversation with a father who told me his story.

Here is what he said to me, in his own words:

“…he’s an adult and can make his own choices, but it had to sting.”

First of all, let me tell you that my son Mike is 23 years old. When my ex-wife Rachel and I first started attempting to have a family, we learned that I was infertile. The adoption plan was made, and then my ex-wife became pregnant around three months later. Initially, I was overjoyed because I had assumed the doctor had made a mistake. I was incorrect. Twenty years had passed before I learned that my ex-wife had cheated on me.

Over the course of the last three years, Rachel has been telling me that she cheated on me with another man. We finally got around to taking a paternity test to settle the matter, and the results were clear: he is not my biological son. A few time after that, my ex and I officially ended our marriage and were divorced. My kid has been eager to see his biological father ever since he learned the truth. It was then that he began their tight friendship. A lot more pain was caused by this than I anticipated.

Yes, he’s an adult and can make his own choices, but it had to sting. They were quite close, and Mike became suddenly aloof from me. For over a year, this has been the case. When I contact him to see if he’s free for dinner, he responds that he has arrangements with Dave (biological Father). I called and texted him often in an effort to get in touch, but he never committed to anything beyond the occasional lunch once every two months. We used to hang together once a week, but since since he found out about Dave, things have changed dramatically.

The tension was too much for me to bear. My own grown child, whom I’d cared for from infancy, disregarded me. He remained aloof and unfriendly even when we made concrete arrangements. By this, I mean that he started to be a lot more guarded about his private life. When I asked how things were doing at school or with his friends, he would always give me a surface-level response. He switched from Business to Sociology as a major, and didn’t tell me about it until a year later.

I let him know how much his emotional distance was hurting me, and he promised to make amends and try harder. This is something he never done. I tried telling him several times, but he never listened. However, he had not closed the gap between them.

It was our phone discussion last week that finally pushed me over the edge. He decided he loved the Daves’ surname so much and felt so connected to them that he was going to adopt it as his own. What I was hearing blew my mind. “I can’t believe you’re going to do this,” I exclaimed. That’s a major letdown for me. Changing your surname is your business, but know that if you do, I will no longer consider myself your father and will no longer be a part of your life.

To my dismay, he abruptly cut off our conversation. I knew there was no point in trying to contact him. What I stated stands. Everything I said was sincere and is still sincere. Because of the change in his surname, he no longer considers me to be his father and has instead adopted Dave, who is 23 years old.

They told me I was being unreasonable, yet my closest friends disagree.


My thoughts…

Abby Joseph, Cultured Views Founder

There are a number of reasons why the father in this narrative is unreasonable.

The fact that his kid, now 23, is not his biological son has caused him a great deal of anger and anguish. He ought to count his blessings that his kid is ready to maintain contact with him despite their incompatibility as blood relatives.

To add insult to injury, the father is upset because his kid has decided to take his stepfather’s surname instead of maintaining his own. This doesn’t reflect poorly on the son’s devotion or dedication to his father but rather on how close he has grown to his new family.

Last but not least, the father’s expectations are unrealistic for a change in the nature of his connection with his son due to a simple change of last names. The fact that the kid still wants to talk to his father after learning the truth about their connection should be cause for gratitude on the father’s part.

These are a few tips I’d offer him:

1. Talk to your son about what he is going through. Let him know that you are there for him and offer any support that he may need.

2. Reach out to a family therapist or counselor who can help both you and your son work through this situation.

3. Make sure that you are staying healthy and emotionally stable during this time. It will be difficult for both you and your son, but it is important to take care of yourself too.

4. Seek out support from friends or family members who can offer you a listening ear and emotional support.

5. Take some time for yourself to relax and de-stress. This may be something as simple as taking a walk, reading a book, or spending time with your pets.

In summary, the father in this story clearly has a lot of pent-up rage and bitterness. His demands are excessive, and his attitude toward his son is unacceptable. Still, there are tools at the father’s disposal, and time is on his side, to work toward mending their ties.