Real Stories

My Daughter’s Dad is Actually her Brother – How Do I Tell Her?

A woman has confused the heck outta us by admitting that her daughter’s father is not her husband. Her daughter’s father is actually her grandfather. And her real father? The person she thinks is her brother.

Um…what?

I know. We are confused too. Here’s how it all went down. Her dad is actually her brother?

Mum uses stepson’s sperm to conceive daughter

A mother recently reached out to advice columnist “Dear Therapist” at The Atlantic for suggestions on how to tell her 30-year-old daughter that her stepbrother is actually her biological father. 

The mother, who remains anonymous, explained how she met her husband later in life. He already had two kids and a vasectomy and they couldn’t go through the reversal process as it had been in effect for too long. They thought about using a sperm bank but decided to go down a different road instead. 

Instead of using a stranger’s sperm, they asked the man’s adult son if he would be willing to help them out. 

She wrote,

“We didn’t want to use a sperm bank, so we asked my husband’s son to be the donor … He agreed to help. We felt that was the best decision: Our child would have my husband’s genes, and we knew my stepson’s health, personality, and intelligence.”

Bio dad is actually her brother

Now, a few things to point out here.

1. This happened in America.

2. This happened 30 years ago as the daughter is now 30 years old. We’re unsure how old the mum is or the husband or the biological dad/brother but if the biological dad/brother was an adult when he consented to let them have his sperm, he would have to be at least 50 by now. Probably older. 

Anyhow, back to the story. 

Surprise! Brother is actually biological father

For 30 years the mother didn’t let anyone know the truth. Her husband played along and raised the daughter as his own. The brother also played along, acting as a sibling rather than the biological father. 

But now, 30 years later, the mother wants to come clean with her daughter. 

How does she inform her that the man she thought is her dad is actually her granddad and the man she thought was her stepbrother is actually her father?

I cannot imagine it will go down well. 

MBut there’s more to the story because the brother/biological dad also has a child, who the daughter believes is her nephew. But in reality, he’s her half-brother. 

Expert advice needed

The mother shared her story, hoping for some expert advice from the columnist for The Atlantic, Lori Gottlieb, a qualified therapist. 

Lori offered some very wise and honest advice, reminding the mother that her daughter is probably going to be pretty taken aback by this information, especially after 30 years of lies. 

 “As you think about how to have an honest conversation, keep in mind that there are two truths your daughter will be absorbing simultaneously: First, the person she calls her brother is her biological father, and second, the people she calls her parents have deceived her for 30 years,” she replied.

She also advised the mum to ditch the excuses for why she did it and admit full responsibility. Family secrets can make us sick and this one has gone on for 30 years. She added that keeping this secret for so long had likely affected her husband, her stepson, and even her daughter who could have sensed “that something she can’t name has always felt off”. 

The therapist left the mother with some final pearls of wisdom. “You clearly love your daughter, and we owe honesty to the people we love,” she concluded.

How would you go about this difficult conversation? Would you tell your daughter or just let the lie go on forever? Or would you have been honest from a much earlier age? Or perhaps you would have avoided your stepson’s sperm to begin with? 

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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