So you’ve done a DNA test and found a child who may be yours and is Amerasian. What do you do? What do you think? How do you respond?
First of all, don’t panic. This is happening literally to thousands of people every day across the country. It’s shocking, surprising, scary, but not the end of the world and not a bad thing. Tens of Millions of people in the world have taken Ancestry DNA, 23andMe, and other DNA tests. These companies are matching people who are related on every scale. You all know about those emails from Nigeria, or the daughter of an Arabian princess who needs to send you 3.5 million dollars, right? Those are obviously scams. These tests don’t lie, DNA doesn’t lie.
So there it is right in your face, you have a DNA match with roughly 3,475 centimorgans, this is YOUR child. Think on this a bit and let it digest.
Thanks for continuing…. I have to say that I admire you. You have been through a lot in the military and your life. You have sacrificed more than enough and you have the courage to survive when so many haven’t. Thank you wholeheartedly on behalf of myself (daughter of a Vietnam Vet) and everyone in our country.
If you are interested, I have written an open letter to you, Dear US Military Veteran.
What do you do now?
Celebrate that you have a child! You have a gift, you created a human being and that human being may possibly want to have contact with you. What a remarkable situation, there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Circumstances happen and life happens, but you now have a glorious opportunity to become a father. Take full advantage of this!
You may want to keep this to yourself at first, unless you are open with your significant other or spouse. There will be a flood of emotions and you just need time to take it all in. Give yourself that time, as this is between you and your child.
What do you think?
You may be feeling all kinds of mixed emotions, shock, anger, sadness, resentment, fear… all normal. You could be feeling joy, happiness, hope, anticipation… again all normal. It’s completely up to you how to feel and you have every right to your feelings. However, on behalf of your Amerasian child, I beg you to stay open minded and consider keeping a line of communication open. Amerasian children had an unimaginable life filled with very unkind daily living, if they even made it long enough to live into childhood. The truth of war is most Amerasian children were often abused or even killed, just because they were of mixed race. If they were spared, they lived a life of discrimination, often called Bụi đời (children of dust). Imagine thinking your life was valued as less than dust.
How do you respond?
The right thing to do would be to send a message to acknowledge your child as your child. Confirm that you are indeed their father. Most often that is all that the Amerasian wishes, acknowledgement they are someone’s son or daughter. After that, this is where things could get quite complicated depending on your thoughts, feelings or situation. You may want to set a boundary with your child asking them to give you some time to think about the situation with a promise that you will continue a discussion at a later date. Then take that time for yourself to think about how you want to proceed. You may want to talk to family or a professional on how to deal with this circumstance. Please follow up with them, because I can guarantee they are waiting on pins and needles for a response. They may continue to message or call you because of their eagerness. You have to understand their determination and anticipation to be your child.
If you decide not to have a relationship with them, think of a kind way to explain that to them. As an Amerasian child, they fear abandonment and rejection on a much larger scale. They deserve to know the truth, and you do owe them that much. Perhaps just consider keeping those lines of communication open on a level you are comfortable with.
If you decide to accept them into your life, I truly applaud you!! You can take it slow or dive head first into a relationship, that choice is yours. It may take some time to get used to the idea, but think of the possibility of gaining a son or daughter and a whole new part of your family. What a blessing!!
How do I tell my spouse or family?
In all honesty, no one is perfect and this is a sensitive topic, but one that MUST be discussed. Because it will not just be forgotten or go away. It shouldn’t be a secret that you carry to your grave. More likely, others will know especially through DNA testing. The truth will eventually come out and it may not be as bad as you think.
In the case of telling a spouse that you were with prior or during your military service, it may be looked at as an unforgivable infidelity. In hindsight, I bet you said that there would be no way this truth would ever come to the surface…. well, it may be time to fess up. Things I have heard from Veteran fathers have included that they were drunk and don’t remember (the most common). This may be the case, either way, if someone has come to you with a DNA link, you must face that it HAS happened. Simply not remembering doesn’t make this event go away.
If you have a spouse that has stood by your side through out your life, chances are that they will understand with some time and communication. Or they may threaten divorce. This one is a very tough decision, but again, once it comes out, we only hope and pray that it settles on a positive note.
I will elaborate more and give optional talking points later on.