Would you introduce your kids to your spouse's illegitimate child?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  August 14, 2009 01:50 PM

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According to North Carolina TV station WRAL, Senator John Edwards is set to admit that he actually is the father of his former mistress's 18-month-old daughter.

I heard the news on the radio this morning, and immediately wondered what Edwards's family would do. The senator's wife, Elizabeth, is faced with yet another terrible choice: Accept her children's newly acknowledged half sister, or punish the toddler for being the product of an affair, something over which the child had no control.

Senator Edwards acknowledged the affair with Rielle Hunter last year (a federal grand jury is reportedly investigating whether he illegally used his campaign funds to pay Hunter to keep quiet about it). But he has consistently denied being the father of her baby, insisting that the affair ended in 2006, before the baby was conceived. In fact, he told Bob Woodruff on ABC news last year that he would welcome the chance to take a paternity test to prove his innocence. "I know that it's not possible that this child could be mine because of the timing of events, so I know it's not possible," he said in the interview. "Happy to take a paternity test, and would love to see it happen."

Apparently, he took that test in secret recently -- and the results weren't quite what he expected. The National Enquirer, which initially broke the news of the affair, reported that the results of the paternity test prove Edwards is the toddler's dad. A positive result on a paternity test is usually 99.99 percent accurate, so the chances of someone else being the father are slim-to-none. WRAL, citing anonymous sources, reported that Edwards will confirm that he's the father before the federal grand jury finishes its investigation.

All married couples deal with the blending of families, to an extent. Stepparents deal with it most, having to knit together relationships between existing children as well as inlaws and, sometimes, former spouses as well. But when the new family member is the product of an extramarital affair, how does the blending even begin?

The Globe Magazine recently ran a great article, about what it was like to grow up as the child of an affair. In "The Son Who Wasn't," Stefan Hogan describes what it was like living in the shadow of his father's "real" family. "I am my father’s sixth child," he writes, "and none of his other children knew until this past December that I existed."

Little Frances doesn't face the same fate, if only because her parents' affair and its aftermath have played out in public. So, now what? Should Elizabeth Edwards accept the toddler while continuing to shun her mom, the former mistress? Allow her own young children to meet their half sister, and let her older kids decide for themselves? Is it fair to deny a child a relationship with her siblings because of something her parents did?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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32 comments so far...
  1. After reading "The Son Who Wasn't," I find it hard to suggest a child be punished for their parent's inappropriate behavior. Still, something like this must also be extremely difficult for the other children, who see their half-sibling and are reminded of their parent's affair. In Elizabeth Edwards's position, I wouldn't forbid my children to see their half-sibling, but I also wouldn't go so far as to force family get-togethers. It depends on what your children are comfortable with.

    http://childrenshospitalblog.org/

    Posted by Annie August 14, 09 02:50 PM
  1. How is it "punishing" the toddler to keep some distance at this juncture? EE would not be punishing anyone - it's not her affair - pardon the pun. Also, EE has one older child (not children - her son is dead) and two younger children. I don't think EE has to do anything. John can take all his kids to the park on his own.

    Thanks for commenting, Ceecee. Good points. -- LMA

    Posted by ceecee August 14, 09 02:51 PM
  1. Are you serious? How could you possibly consider inflicting MORE PAIN on Elizabeth Edwards by even suggesting that she should acknowledge and embrace the product of her husbands ultimate deception?

    True, it is not the little girl's fault, but come on, with all the money her mother (Lisa Druck) is going to pull in from her well-timed pregnancy, little Francis will have enough to keep herself occupied. She won't "miss" her "half-brothers and sisters" unless she is brainwashed to do so.

    Thanks for commenting, L.P. (and thank you for pointing out that Rielle Hunter was formerly known as Lisa Druck). I'm not inflicting anything on Mrs. Edwards... I didn't suggest she take any particular course of action. I'm asking what other people think/what they would do, and linking to an article that was written by someone who actually was the product of such an affair. -- LMA

    Posted by L.P.Martin August 14, 09 02:56 PM
  1. I think he is such a disgusting liar.. He knew he was the dad. She knew he was married and to do this to another women a real bitch. Did she get him? No...I hope Elizabeth leaves him. Affairs usually end. It is rare that they get together and if they do the women always worries that he will do to her what they did.. Sad because she is dying of cancer..but freakier things happen , I mean he could drop dead today, tomorrow or tonight, so I just wish good luck to Elizabeth.

    Posted by dee August 14, 09 04:28 PM
  1. EE isn't responsible for John's extramarital mess. She isn't this child's stepmom and shouldn't have to deal with this at all. It is not required that women embrace the products of extramarital affairs. EE needs to spend her time on her family, kids, and her health.

    RH knew he was married and his wife was sick. She also knew he had small children. She participated, as did he, in victimizing this family. She could have gotten a real job and taken care of herself, instead, she chose to steal another woman's life.

    Posted by Vickie August 15, 09 07:59 AM
  1. It isn't up to Elizabeth to accept or parent her husband's illegitimate child. It's her husband's responsibility to do so. Any interaction between the toddler and his other children can be managed by him, not her. She has nothing to do with it and shouldn't have to suffer any further!

    Posted by Meg C. August 16, 09 12:31 AM
  1. What a big old mess with no clean way forward. Of all competing rationale, I think greatest weight goes to siblings being able to meet one another, and in some way hope to redeem the lapses of their parents. Not sure about the timing that is best for kids.

    Posted by Stefan August 16, 09 07:14 PM
  1. This is a cruel situation. Affairs never end nicely, because they don't begin nicely!

    Is it fair that a father's choice destroys his children and family? No.

    There is no reason that EE should introduce her children to the product of his affair. Surely it is not the fault of baby Druck or Hunter. However, because of the choices of her mother, she also has no "right" to know her siblings.

    Sounds cruel, but it is what it is. She has a right to know her father. That's it, plain and simple. Her parents have to manage her growth into a healthy adult. EE and John's children should not be forced to welcome in another sibling just because they share DNA.

    If John were a sperm donor, would the products of that donation have to come into the lives of his other children with his wife?

    Posted by Reality August 17, 09 08:36 AM
  1. I love the use of the term illegitimate, what are we still in the dark ages. Seems to me this child is a living breathing being, which makes her as legitimate as they come. A piece of paper doesn’t determine anything.

    Mother of an illegitimate

    Posted by WeatherWitch August 17, 09 08:54 AM
  1. Children aren't illegitimate. But they aren't family either, at least for the wife and her children. No one needs to be constantly reminded of betrayal, and that is what the child is. Women should consider this before they have the affair and drag another innocent person in to this kind of mess.

    Apparently there is a law in NC that divides assessets 50-50 unless you can prove adulerty. EE could get most of the money and property in a divorce. RH may get considerable less child support if JE goes to jail and EE gets most of the money. I don't know how much he will make in jail but it won't be much.

    Posted by Vickie August 17, 09 12:40 PM
  1. You could expose this child to a lot of hostility by forcing her on this family. This child represents a betrayal of this family, not a welcome member.

    If I did let the child in, I would never let her mother in. There would need to be an ittermediatary. All in all this child was set up for an unhappy life of being denied.

    Posted by Vickie August 17, 09 12:48 PM
  1. Actually Vickie, that isn't exactly the law in North Carolina.

    I am a family law attorney. There are many ways that assets can be distributed. It is the presumption that the assets will be distributed equally, but that is not automatic. Many factors can come in to determine whether or not equitable distribution will occur on a 50/50 or even a 90/10 basis. And adultery has nothing to do with equitable distribution unless marital funds were somehow usurped for the affair.
    The law you're referring to has to do with alimiony and adultery. Alimony can be an "at fault" award. Meaning if adultery occurred, alimony will be automatically afforded the non-offending dependent spouse. (with some exceptions and other evidence provided).

    I won't go deeply into it, but I'd prefer that people have the correct info.

    Posted by Reality August 17, 09 02:05 PM
  1. My bad, I read that on another blog and thought the person knew what they were talking about.

    Posted by Vickie August 17, 09 04:29 PM
  1. Why is Hunter's child being referred to as "illegitimate"? The child is John Edwards' other child, not an "illegitimate" child. God, how I hate such labels. If I were in EE's post, I would fully accept little Miss Hunter (the baby) with love. And who knows what will happen in the future? Maybe the baby will one really really need her father in the physical sense (mother's illness, for example).

    Lylah - The headline was unfortunate. As a member of a blended family, you should know better. If you didn't write the headline, you could have distanced yourself from it.

    Posted by reindeergirl August 17, 09 06:58 PM
  1. Children of adultery aren't part of a blended family. They are outside the family and as I said before represent betrayal. If you could accept a child from an affair that betrayed your trust and didn't see them as a reminder of that betrayal, good for you. Most of us would take a life time to come to terms with this child. EE may not have that kind of time and she doesn't need to waste it on John's mistress and her daughter. Besides RH is using that child for money because she is too lazy to get a job. Every time RH comes to JE for more money it will pour salt in the wound.

    Posted by Vickie August 17, 09 11:10 PM
  1. This situation has happened a lot in my family. Mystery Relatives usually emerge at Thanksgiving and funerals. I've met a few "outside" relatives, but I don't know how i would react to an "outside" sibling. I wouldn't hold their DNA against them, but I wouldn't exactly be rushing to meet them, either.

    Posted by Liz August 21, 09 04:03 AM
  1. As a women in the same sitution as EE, I have to say regaurdless of how the chile came about the father has the responsiblity to care for the child, and if the wife stay in the marriage she is also making the choice to stand by her H and support him and his other child. In doing so, if there are other kids involed they should have the chance to know thier sibling. Why punish the children for the parents being stupid. In my sitution I will not be the one to do the care giving for the OC as he is not my child, but I will be there to be a positive role model for him, if I stay in this marriage.

    Posted by amethyst August 28, 09 11:19 PM
  1. Where are commens from the perspective of the children--all of them. Elizabeth is just passing her hurt and victimization on to Frances and her own children, being a bad role model of forgiveness and more importantly, love. (How can we believe she really cares about the health and well-being of our families when she's been so cold toward this child?? Didn't she echo HRClinton in saying that it takes a village to raise a child?) What a truly inspirational, heroic figure Elizabeth would be if she could focus on Frances as just the child she is, extend her love as simply a child. If she handled it well, her kids would accept their half-sister with love and magnamity, and be a role model to other families.

    Posted by MomNextDoor September 3, 09 05:01 PM
  1. Where are commens from the perspective of the children--all of them. Elizabeth is just passing her hurt and victimization on to Frances and EE's own children, being a bad role model of forgiveness and more importantly, love. (How can we believe she really cares about the health and well-being of our families when she's been so cold toward this child?? Didn't she echo HRClinton in saying that it takes a village to raise a child?) What a truly inspirational, heroic figure Elizabeth would be if she could focus on Frances as just the child she is, extend her love as simply a child. If she handled it well, her kids would accept their half-sister with love and magnamity, and be a role model to other families.

    Posted by MomNextDoor September 3, 09 05:07 PM
  1. Plain and simple, because of the circumstances surrounding her creation, this childs existence doesn't seem to bring joy to anyone other than her mother and maybe the relatives on the mother's side who possibly urged her to "stick it to 'em good" and "have the baby." EE didn't ask for any of this and in a position to decide to handle things however she wants. If she includes the child or not is her choice and rightfully so. It is a shame that the child was born into this situation, and this speaks MOUNDS to the type of woman her mother is. Yeah she can play the "I couldn't dare take a child's life" card if she wants to because she thinks that it will draw simpathy to them and it has. But on the other hand, what happened to the " don't have unprotected sex with a married man and get pregnant with his baby" card? I guess that one wasn't in the deck! My blessings to them all because this is a mess that the mistress (glorified name for whoring) and John have to answer to God about, no matter what anyone, including me has to say. I have a bunch to say about this situation, because I have lived it....many lessons learned and taught behind this!

    Posted by Ruday76 September 14, 09 02:47 PM
  1. Outside children stay outside. Her siblings will not welcome her because they will eventually see her as evidence of betrayal. I don't think Mrs. Edwards has or should accept this child. Children suffer all the time because of mistakes their parents make and this was a bad situation. The little girl's mother has money on her mind,no matter what she says about protecting her daughter's so called rights, if she did'nt have purely money on her mind she'd take her child live a happy lfe without all the drama that will surely come

    Posted by patrice September 24, 09 11:15 PM
  1. My family is going through this situation. I feel that we have been betrayed. To make matters worse, this child and mother were around our family for the past three years. I mean at our house. My husband claims that he didn't know it was his child. My H happens to be a bleeding heart and felt sorry for the single parent. We are learning through testing that he is the father. I am tormented. I have lost any ounce of trust that existed. I have a heart full of hatred. I would love the opportunity to speak to someone about my feelings. One of my major questions is, "How do we deal with this?" I feel as though, financially we are going to be wiped out. "How have other families dealt with this situation". Many of the responses above, echo my feelings and I know the impossible position this presents for my family. I do not want this child in my face. He represents the betrayal that has occurred. I cannot be happy in his presence. I feel deceived and would really like to read something or talk to someone who can give me a better perspective. At this time, I see nothing positive. I don't know how long I can sustain my place in this marriage and if I divorce am I giving in to the other woman?

    Posted by The wife January 11, 10 11:03 AM
  1. The Wife.. I feel for you my dear! I too am in the mix of my husband and the OW.. We are awaiting paternity testing thru the courts. But i have seen pictures of him and his innocent baby and looks like him. So we have prepared for the worst but hope for the best. I actually stay away from these boards bcuz there are a lot of hateful ppl out there that are looking for 1 chance to lash out at the victims.
    Our husbands don't deserve us, this i know, but because they cheated do we have the right to just divorce our husbands and cripple our kids exsistence with their father.. I say....HELL TO THE NO!! if you love him, stick with him. I strongly believe that things will fall into place. But do feel your pain.
    I hate the OW as I hate my husband for even thnking he could fool around and trust this OW that she was on birth control. I refuse to blame myself as the wife as ever causing him to look outside our marriage to be with someone else.
    We are prochoice and the fact that the OW decided to keep my husbands baby but yet think that he has to be there for this child...she's got another thing coming. Financially, yes, he will be there. But physically NO! She didn't care about me nor my 4 children when she decided to start dirty text messaging him. ANd YES, I KNOW...SHE DIDN'T CREATE THIS INNNOCENT LIFE ON HER OWN...AND also THAT IT TAKES 2...But again...... I have no ill feelings towards the child and he does deserve his father around, however, my kids don't deserve to be fatherless bcuz his now got a new child. And divorce is out of the question. It's a tug of war now. Bring it!!

    I apologize in advance to anyone that is offended by my comments. No disrespect intended.

    Email me THE WIFE.... b3a@vzw.blackberry.net


    Posted by CG MOM February 15, 10 01:55 PM
  1. You know I keep hearing people say "you can't punish the child for how stupid their parents are" well in this case wouldn't you be punishing your child by having them know a "father figure" who would have made the stupid choice of having an affair in the first place? People say "its not the child's fault etc." thing is its not the child's fault but the child is a big part of the problem for sure. I definitely do not think that his kids should meet this child out of adultery, nor should EE embrace this child with love. This situation would be no different then accepting a child from the outcome of a rape. Again not the kids fault, but it would be as if you are pouring salt into a wound repetitively, so thus why most people give the child to someone who can love it and not have those horrible images embedded that are associated with that child. There is nothing that stipulates that everyone has to be all lovey dovey and pretend things are ok and get along. Life unfortunately, doesn't work that way because if it did we would have world peace a long time ago. When you get married you take a vow to be faithful and if you dont want to be DONT GET MARRIED.
    I think both parties are at fault for sure and it was also RH choice to keep the child as I'm sure for publicity reasons (which is nice cause the child has 2 loser parents), so I don't think JE should have to contribute anything if he didnt want the kid. I know there are men out there who purposely get women pregnant and leave but there are also women who will take advantage of any situation if they could be in the limelight and make easy money off it. I feel so much for EE and her kids and no one deserves to deal with something like this especially when ill. In the end, JE and RH will get what they deserve because what goes around comes around.

    Posted by rtz March 26, 10 09:00 PM
  1. I am married and my husband has done this same thing to me. I have been through all of the stages of emotions here and problably more. The child is his and I have stayed for almost two years behind it. I had to think about my decision. I love my husband dearly and I love my children. I am not willing to break up my home because some tramp thought that having a baby by a married man was the way to ruin things. I actually have a wonderful relationship with the child. I will not be responsible for his conduct. I will not step in and forbid him from being a dad. I actually would not respect him if he would not own up to the mistake. But It has taken me a while to get here. The mother doesnt even see the child except on a saturday here and there. She doesnt want the child because he is not with her. I think people whom engage in this sort of behavior need their assess kicked royally but at the end of the day it is not the childs fault that her parents did something stupid. And I will not be a constant reminder to her that she was born under terrible circumstances. I am not without feeling and I refuse to mistreat a child. But the mother on the other hand is not on my prayer list. She has to ansewer to God as does he. Just food for thought. You can be angry its expected..... but the child did nothing and should not spend their whole life in exile. If its something you cant handle divorce is an option.

    Posted by Chanel July 30, 10 05:01 PM
  1. While it is not the illegitimate siblings fault that his/her parents could not keep their pants on...it is also not the fault of the cheated on spouse and existing legitimate children. I discovered that I had a half sibling who wants a relationship, I have no feelings for this person and want no relations. I don't feel that I have any responsibility whatsoever and have no plan to build a relationship.

    Posted by JC August 13, 10 02:58 PM
  1. The wife's job is take care of herself first. She is the one who suffers the most. She not only has to deal with the broken trust for him and for any man from now on, her life dreams and plans and her safe family are gone all because two self-centered people could have cared less about commitments and honesty. His wife and kids have the job forced on to them to take care of themselves.

    Posted by Lee August 20, 10 01:49 AM
  1. People always want the victim (wife) to do the "right" thing when her husband has a child from an affair. People want his wife to feel that she has to divorce her husband if she doesn't deal with his child. A wife didn't ask for this nor did the child. The parents made a decision to deceive the wife and sleep with each other. The wife can choose to be a part of this child's life if she wants, but if not, then that's her choice to make. She shouldn't be pushed against the wall because she loves her husband. Accepting a child before you are married is one thing, but during your marriage is something else.

    Posted by Anonymous August 26, 10 01:22 PM
  1. i am angered that my husband of 26 years, has now informed me that a 21 year old daughter is his. he expects me to welcome her into my family and doesn't understand my hesitation to do so. at this point of my life i want to make my life as uncomplicated as possible. i have no ill feelings towards the daughter, i am just hurt and dissappointed. i have lost all trust and feel as though our relationship has just ended. my plans of being with my companion for the rest of my life has all but disappeared. the lack of compassion and understanding of my feelings on my husbands' part. breaks my heart

    Posted by mo January 27, 11 09:42 PM
  1. Try having the child of an affair born on your birthday, and be a son - which you have always wanted but never got. The pain does not go away it is a constant reminder.The child in our situation was later adopted by the husband of the other woman. He is now 18 and I have no idea if or when he may show up on my door step looking for his bio dad. It is heart wrenching at best. I know the child is innocent.. but really just how much is the wife suppose to take..

    Posted by Natalie January 14, 12 10:19 PM
  1. I am a woman who was betrayed. The other woman (OW) and the other child (OC) have no right to being part of my life. That is my choice. (In my case the OW was recently arrested for stalking and harassing me and my 15 year old son over the last two years). People who say that the wife should accept the child or divorce the husband have absolutely no clue what they are talking about; they are completely clueless as to how deeply violating this experience is -- it is similar to telling a woman who was raped that she should just stop feeling the pain and just accept the violator. To expect the person who was betrayed to accept the OC into their lives is simply cruel. The OW chose to have the OC even though she knew the father was unavailable.

    As to the father of the OC, the child IS illegitimate if the father does not accept the child as his own and does not sign the birth certificate, unless he is proven otherwise by a paternity test (legal definition).

    As far as I am concerned, however, a child born through adultery is a bastard. Obviously, the child is innocent but a bastard nonetheless due to his being born to a father who has a Legitimate family. The mother should think first of her child and find the right environment and setting so that the child can have a healthy life. That means keeping the child away from the Legitimate family.

    I am in no way condoning the husband's behavior. He is the person most at fault. The OW is a close second. But they both acted like children, without responsibility or care for others. The father should pay child support to the OW and if he and his wife agree, he could be a presence in the OW's life. But the Legitimate family should be the ones who get to choose whether the OC is "accepted" or not. If the Legitimate children are young, then they should not be subjected to such knowledge -- based on the wife's choices about how/when/if they are told. I know personally how destructive the knowledge of the OC was to my son (emotional turmoil, disengagement, sadness, etc.) -- this choice was not mine but forced upon us by others. People who force this knowledge upon innocent children are not thinking about what is best for the innocent, only about continuing their own selfish behavior.

    Posted by SusanR November 21, 12 06:34 PM
  1. Everyone has the attitude "it is OK to have secret affairs" Just dont bring a child into it. I am a secret child, and how would you like to be in the middle of all the so-called pain of the parents, the siblings etc etc etc. We the secret children, are not supposed to feel any pain. You want to bet. We have it all. All the pain rolling around us because someone messed up and we are here in this life. It is OK for parents to mess up. It is almost a badge on the collar "arn't I smart having an affair" just dont bring the child into it. Everyone gets angry. I have been there, done that bought the TShirt.

    Posted by Ruth Goetze February 17, 13 12:25 AM
 
32 comments so far...
  1. After reading "The Son Who Wasn't," I find it hard to suggest a child be punished for their parent's inappropriate behavior. Still, something like this must also be extremely difficult for the other children, who see their half-sibling and are reminded of their parent's affair. In Elizabeth Edwards's position, I wouldn't forbid my children to see their half-sibling, but I also wouldn't go so far as to force family get-togethers. It depends on what your children are comfortable with.

    http://childrenshospitalblog.org/

    Posted by Annie August 14, 09 02:50 PM
  1. How is it "punishing" the toddler to keep some distance at this juncture? EE would not be punishing anyone - it's not her affair - pardon the pun. Also, EE has one older child (not children - her son is dead) and two younger children. I don't think EE has to do anything. John can take all his kids to the park on his own.

    Thanks for commenting, Ceecee. Good points. -- LMA

    Posted by ceecee August 14, 09 02:51 PM
  1. Are you serious? How could you possibly consider inflicting MORE PAIN on Elizabeth Edwards by even suggesting that she should acknowledge and embrace the product of her husbands ultimate deception?

    True, it is not the little girl's fault, but come on, with all the money her mother (Lisa Druck) is going to pull in from her well-timed pregnancy, little Francis will have enough to keep herself occupied. She won't "miss" her "half-brothers and sisters" unless she is brainwashed to do so.

    Thanks for commenting, L.P. (and thank you for pointing out that Rielle Hunter was formerly known as Lisa Druck). I'm not inflicting anything on Mrs. Edwards... I didn't suggest she take any particular course of action. I'm asking what other people think/what they would do, and linking to an article that was written by someone who actually was the product of such an affair. -- LMA

    Posted by L.P.Martin August 14, 09 02:56 PM
  1. I think he is such a disgusting liar.. He knew he was the dad. She knew he was married and to do this to another women a real bitch. Did she get him? No...I hope Elizabeth leaves him. Affairs usually end. It is rare that they get together and if they do the women always worries that he will do to her what they did.. Sad because she is dying of cancer..but freakier things happen , I mean he could drop dead today, tomorrow or tonight, so I just wish good luck to Elizabeth.

    Posted by dee August 14, 09 04:28 PM
  1. EE isn't responsible for John's extramarital mess. She isn't this child's stepmom and shouldn't have to deal with this at all. It is not required that women embrace the products of extramarital affairs. EE needs to spend her time on her family, kids, and her health.

    RH knew he was married and his wife was sick. She also knew he had small children. She participated, as did he, in victimizing this family. She could have gotten a real job and taken care of herself, instead, she chose to steal another woman's life.

    Posted by Vickie August 15, 09 07:59 AM
  1. It isn't up to Elizabeth to accept or parent her husband's illegitimate child. It's her husband's responsibility to do so. Any interaction between the toddler and his other children can be managed by him, not her. She has nothing to do with it and shouldn't have to suffer any further!

    Posted by Meg C. August 16, 09 12:31 AM
  1. What a big old mess with no clean way forward. Of all competing rationale, I think greatest weight goes to siblings being able to meet one another, and in some way hope to redeem the lapses of their parents. Not sure about the timing that is best for kids.

    Posted by Stefan August 16, 09 07:14 PM
  1. This is a cruel situation. Affairs never end nicely, because they don't begin nicely!

    Is it fair that a father's choice destroys his children and family? No.

    There is no reason that EE should introduce her children to the product of his affair. Surely it is not the fault of baby Druck or Hunter. However, because of the choices of her mother, she also has no "right" to know her siblings.

    Sounds cruel, but it is what it is. She has a right to know her father. That's it, plain and simple. Her parents have to manage her growth into a healthy adult. EE and John's children should not be forced to welcome in another sibling just because they share DNA.

    If John were a sperm donor, would the products of that donation have to come into the lives of his other children with his wife?

    Posted by Reality August 17, 09 08:36 AM
  1. I love the use of the term illegitimate, what are we still in the dark ages. Seems to me this child is a living breathing being, which makes her as legitimate as they come. A piece of paper doesn’t determine anything.

    Mother of an illegitimate

    Posted by WeatherWitch August 17, 09 08:54 AM
  1. Children aren't illegitimate. But they aren't family either, at least for the wife and her children. No one needs to be constantly reminded of betrayal, and that is what the child is. Women should consider this before they have the affair and drag another innocent person in to this kind of mess.

    Apparently there is a law in NC that divides assessets 50-50 unless you can prove adulerty. EE could get most of the money and property in a divorce. RH may get considerable less child support if JE goes to jail and EE gets most of the money. I don't know how much he will make in jail but it won't be much.

    Posted by Vickie August 17, 09 12:40 PM
  1. You could expose this child to a lot of hostility by forcing her on this family. This child represents a betrayal of this family, not a welcome member.

    If I did let the child in, I would never let her mother in. There would need to be an ittermediatary. All in all this child was set up for an unhappy life of being denied.

    Posted by Vickie August 17, 09 12:48 PM
  1. Actually Vickie, that isn't exactly the law in North Carolina.

    I am a family law attorney. There are many ways that assets can be distributed. It is the presumption that the assets will be distributed equally, but that is not automatic. Many factors can come in to determine whether or not equitable distribution will occur on a 50/50 or even a 90/10 basis. And adultery has nothing to do with equitable distribution unless marital funds were somehow usurped for the affair.
    The law you're referring to has to do with alimiony and adultery. Alimony can be an "at fault" award. Meaning if adultery occurred, alimony will be automatically afforded the non-offending dependent spouse. (with some exceptions and other evidence provided).

    I won't go deeply into it, but I'd prefer that people have the correct info.

    Posted by Reality August 17, 09 02:05 PM
  1. My bad, I read that on another blog and thought the person knew what they were talking about.

    Posted by Vickie August 17, 09 04:29 PM
  1. Why is Hunter's child being referred to as "illegitimate"? The child is John Edwards' other child, not an "illegitimate" child. God, how I hate such labels. If I were in EE's post, I would fully accept little Miss Hunter (the baby) with love. And who knows what will happen in the future? Maybe the baby will one really really need her father in the physical sense (mother's illness, for example).

    Lylah - The headline was unfortunate. As a member of a blended family, you should know better. If you didn't write the headline, you could have distanced yourself from it.

    Posted by reindeergirl August 17, 09 06:58 PM
  1. Children of adultery aren't part of a blended family. They are outside the family and as I said before represent betrayal. If you could accept a child from an affair that betrayed your trust and didn't see them as a reminder of that betrayal, good for you. Most of us would take a life time to come to terms with this child. EE may not have that kind of time and she doesn't need to waste it on John's mistress and her daughter. Besides RH is using that child for money because she is too lazy to get a job. Every time RH comes to JE for more money it will pour salt in the wound.

    Posted by Vickie August 17, 09 11:10 PM
  1. This situation has happened a lot in my family. Mystery Relatives usually emerge at Thanksgiving and funerals. I've met a few "outside" relatives, but I don't know how i would react to an "outside" sibling. I wouldn't hold their DNA against them, but I wouldn't exactly be rushing to meet them, either.

    Posted by Liz August 21, 09 04:03 AM
  1. As a women in the same sitution as EE, I have to say regaurdless of how the chile came about the father has the responsiblity to care for the child, and if the wife stay in the marriage she is also making the choice to stand by her H and support him and his other child. In doing so, if there are other kids involed they should have the chance to know thier sibling. Why punish the children for the parents being stupid. In my sitution I will not be the one to do the care giving for the OC as he is not my child, but I will be there to be a positive role model for him, if I stay in this marriage.

    Posted by amethyst August 28, 09 11:19 PM
  1. Where are commens from the perspective of the children--all of them. Elizabeth is just passing her hurt and victimization on to Frances and her own children, being a bad role model of forgiveness and more importantly, love. (How can we believe she really cares about the health and well-being of our families when she's been so cold toward this child?? Didn't she echo HRClinton in saying that it takes a village to raise a child?) What a truly inspirational, heroic figure Elizabeth would be if she could focus on Frances as just the child she is, extend her love as simply a child. If she handled it well, her kids would accept their half-sister with love and magnamity, and be a role model to other families.

    Posted by MomNextDoor September 3, 09 05:01 PM
  1. Where are commens from the perspective of the children--all of them. Elizabeth is just passing her hurt and victimization on to Frances and EE's own children, being a bad role model of forgiveness and more importantly, love. (How can we believe she really cares about the health and well-being of our families when she's been so cold toward this child?? Didn't she echo HRClinton in saying that it takes a village to raise a child?) What a truly inspirational, heroic figure Elizabeth would be if she could focus on Frances as just the child she is, extend her love as simply a child. If she handled it well, her kids would accept their half-sister with love and magnamity, and be a role model to other families.

    Posted by MomNextDoor September 3, 09 05:07 PM
  1. Plain and simple, because of the circumstances surrounding her creation, this childs existence doesn't seem to bring joy to anyone other than her mother and maybe the relatives on the mother's side who possibly urged her to "stick it to 'em good" and "have the baby." EE didn't ask for any of this and in a position to decide to handle things however she wants. If she includes the child or not is her choice and rightfully so. It is a shame that the child was born into this situation, and this speaks MOUNDS to the type of woman her mother is. Yeah she can play the "I couldn't dare take a child's life" card if she wants to because she thinks that it will draw simpathy to them and it has. But on the other hand, what happened to the " don't have unprotected sex with a married man and get pregnant with his baby" card? I guess that one wasn't in the deck! My blessings to them all because this is a mess that the mistress (glorified name for whoring) and John have to answer to God about, no matter what anyone, including me has to say. I have a bunch to say about this situation, because I have lived it....many lessons learned and taught behind this!

    Posted by Ruday76 September 14, 09 02:47 PM
  1. Outside children stay outside. Her siblings will not welcome her because they will eventually see her as evidence of betrayal. I don't think Mrs. Edwards has or should accept this child. Children suffer all the time because of mistakes their parents make and this was a bad situation. The little girl's mother has money on her mind,no matter what she says about protecting her daughter's so called rights, if she did'nt have purely money on her mind she'd take her child live a happy lfe without all the drama that will surely come

    Posted by patrice September 24, 09 11:15 PM
  1. My family is going through this situation. I feel that we have been betrayed. To make matters worse, this child and mother were around our family for the past three years. I mean at our house. My husband claims that he didn't know it was his child. My H happens to be a bleeding heart and felt sorry for the single parent. We are learning through testing that he is the father. I am tormented. I have lost any ounce of trust that existed. I have a heart full of hatred. I would love the opportunity to speak to someone about my feelings. One of my major questions is, "How do we deal with this?" I feel as though, financially we are going to be wiped out. "How have other families dealt with this situation". Many of the responses above, echo my feelings and I know the impossible position this presents for my family. I do not want this child in my face. He represents the betrayal that has occurred. I cannot be happy in his presence. I feel deceived and would really like to read something or talk to someone who can give me a better perspective. At this time, I see nothing positive. I don't know how long I can sustain my place in this marriage and if I divorce am I giving in to the other woman?

    Posted by The wife January 11, 10 11:03 AM
  1. The Wife.. I feel for you my dear! I too am in the mix of my husband and the OW.. We are awaiting paternity testing thru the courts. But i have seen pictures of him and his innocent baby and looks like him. So we have prepared for the worst but hope for the best. I actually stay away from these boards bcuz there are a lot of hateful ppl out there that are looking for 1 chance to lash out at the victims.
    Our husbands don't deserve us, this i know, but because they cheated do we have the right to just divorce our husbands and cripple our kids exsistence with their father.. I say....HELL TO THE NO!! if you love him, stick with him. I strongly believe that things will fall into place. But do feel your pain.
    I hate the OW as I hate my husband for even thnking he could fool around and trust this OW that she was on birth control. I refuse to blame myself as the wife as ever causing him to look outside our marriage to be with someone else.
    We are prochoice and the fact that the OW decided to keep my husbands baby but yet think that he has to be there for this child...she's got another thing coming. Financially, yes, he will be there. But physically NO! She didn't care about me nor my 4 children when she decided to start dirty text messaging him. ANd YES, I KNOW...SHE DIDN'T CREATE THIS INNNOCENT LIFE ON HER OWN...AND also THAT IT TAKES 2...But again...... I have no ill feelings towards the child and he does deserve his father around, however, my kids don't deserve to be fatherless bcuz his now got a new child. And divorce is out of the question. It's a tug of war now. Bring it!!

    I apologize in advance to anyone that is offended by my comments. No disrespect intended.

    Email me THE WIFE.... b3a@vzw.blackberry.net


    Posted by CG MOM February 15, 10 01:55 PM
  1. You know I keep hearing people say "you can't punish the child for how stupid their parents are" well in this case wouldn't you be punishing your child by having them know a "father figure" who would have made the stupid choice of having an affair in the first place? People say "its not the child's fault etc." thing is its not the child's fault but the child is a big part of the problem for sure. I definitely do not think that his kids should meet this child out of adultery, nor should EE embrace this child with love. This situation would be no different then accepting a child from the outcome of a rape. Again not the kids fault, but it would be as if you are pouring salt into a wound repetitively, so thus why most people give the child to someone who can love it and not have those horrible images embedded that are associated with that child. There is nothing that stipulates that everyone has to be all lovey dovey and pretend things are ok and get along. Life unfortunately, doesn't work that way because if it did we would have world peace a long time ago. When you get married you take a vow to be faithful and if you dont want to be DONT GET MARRIED.
    I think both parties are at fault for sure and it was also RH choice to keep the child as I'm sure for publicity reasons (which is nice cause the child has 2 loser parents), so I don't think JE should have to contribute anything if he didnt want the kid. I know there are men out there who purposely get women pregnant and leave but there are also women who will take advantage of any situation if they could be in the limelight and make easy money off it. I feel so much for EE and her kids and no one deserves to deal with something like this especially when ill. In the end, JE and RH will get what they deserve because what goes around comes around.

    Posted by rtz March 26, 10 09:00 PM
  1. I am married and my husband has done this same thing to me. I have been through all of the stages of emotions here and problably more. The child is his and I have stayed for almost two years behind it. I had to think about my decision. I love my husband dearly and I love my children. I am not willing to break up my home because some tramp thought that having a baby by a married man was the way to ruin things. I actually have a wonderful relationship with the child. I will not be responsible for his conduct. I will not step in and forbid him from being a dad. I actually would not respect him if he would not own up to the mistake. But It has taken me a while to get here. The mother doesnt even see the child except on a saturday here and there. She doesnt want the child because he is not with her. I think people whom engage in this sort of behavior need their assess kicked royally but at the end of the day it is not the childs fault that her parents did something stupid. And I will not be a constant reminder to her that she was born under terrible circumstances. I am not without feeling and I refuse to mistreat a child. But the mother on the other hand is not on my prayer list. She has to ansewer to God as does he. Just food for thought. You can be angry its expected..... but the child did nothing and should not spend their whole life in exile. If its something you cant handle divorce is an option.

    Posted by Chanel July 30, 10 05:01 PM
  1. While it is not the illegitimate siblings fault that his/her parents could not keep their pants on...it is also not the fault of the cheated on spouse and existing legitimate children. I discovered that I had a half sibling who wants a relationship, I have no feelings for this person and want no relations. I don't feel that I have any responsibility whatsoever and have no plan to build a relationship.

    Posted by JC August 13, 10 02:58 PM
  1. The wife's job is take care of herself first. She is the one who suffers the most. She not only has to deal with the broken trust for him and for any man from now on, her life dreams and plans and her safe family are gone all because two self-centered people could have cared less about commitments and honesty. His wife and kids have the job forced on to them to take care of themselves.

    Posted by Lee August 20, 10 01:49 AM
  1. People always want the victim (wife) to do the "right" thing when her husband has a child from an affair. People want his wife to feel that she has to divorce her husband if she doesn't deal with his child. A wife didn't ask for this nor did the child. The parents made a decision to deceive the wife and sleep with each other. The wife can choose to be a part of this child's life if she wants, but if not, then that's her choice to make. She shouldn't be pushed against the wall because she loves her husband. Accepting a child before you are married is one thing, but during your marriage is something else.

    Posted by Anonymous August 26, 10 01:22 PM
  1. i am angered that my husband of 26 years, has now informed me that a 21 year old daughter is his. he expects me to welcome her into my family and doesn't understand my hesitation to do so. at this point of my life i want to make my life as uncomplicated as possible. i have no ill feelings towards the daughter, i am just hurt and dissappointed. i have lost all trust and feel as though our relationship has just ended. my plans of being with my companion for the rest of my life has all but disappeared. the lack of compassion and understanding of my feelings on my husbands' part. breaks my heart

    Posted by mo January 27, 11 09:42 PM
  1. Try having the child of an affair born on your birthday, and be a son - which you have always wanted but never got. The pain does not go away it is a constant reminder.The child in our situation was later adopted by the husband of the other woman. He is now 18 and I have no idea if or when he may show up on my door step looking for his bio dad. It is heart wrenching at best. I know the child is innocent.. but really just how much is the wife suppose to take..

    Posted by Natalie January 14, 12 10:19 PM
  1. I am a woman who was betrayed. The other woman (OW) and the other child (OC) have no right to being part of my life. That is my choice. (In my case the OW was recently arrested for stalking and harassing me and my 15 year old son over the last two years). People who say that the wife should accept the child or divorce the husband have absolutely no clue what they are talking about; they are completely clueless as to how deeply violating this experience is -- it is similar to telling a woman who was raped that she should just stop feeling the pain and just accept the violator. To expect the person who was betrayed to accept the OC into their lives is simply cruel. The OW chose to have the OC even though she knew the father was unavailable.

    As to the father of the OC, the child IS illegitimate if the father does not accept the child as his own and does not sign the birth certificate, unless he is proven otherwise by a paternity test (legal definition).

    As far as I am concerned, however, a child born through adultery is a bastard. Obviously, the child is innocent but a bastard nonetheless due to his being born to a father who has a Legitimate family. The mother should think first of her child and find the right environment and setting so that the child can have a healthy life. That means keeping the child away from the Legitimate family.

    I am in no way condoning the husband's behavior. He is the person most at fault. The OW is a close second. But they both acted like children, without responsibility or care for others. The father should pay child support to the OW and if he and his wife agree, he could be a presence in the OW's life. But the Legitimate family should be the ones who get to choose whether the OC is "accepted" or not. If the Legitimate children are young, then they should not be subjected to such knowledge -- based on the wife's choices about how/when/if they are told. I know personally how destructive the knowledge of the OC was to my son (emotional turmoil, disengagement, sadness, etc.) -- this choice was not mine but forced upon us by others. People who force this knowledge upon innocent children are not thinking about what is best for the innocent, only about continuing their own selfish behavior.

    Posted by SusanR November 21, 12 06:34 PM
  1. Everyone has the attitude "it is OK to have secret affairs" Just dont bring a child into it. I am a secret child, and how would you like to be in the middle of all the so-called pain of the parents, the siblings etc etc etc. We the secret children, are not supposed to feel any pain. You want to bet. We have it all. All the pain rolling around us because someone messed up and we are here in this life. It is OK for parents to mess up. It is almost a badge on the collar "arn't I smart having an affair" just dont bring the child into it. Everyone gets angry. I have been there, done that bought the TShirt.

    Posted by Ruth Goetze February 17, 13 12:25 AM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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