After 21 years of looking, I finally found the mother of my child. I knew she had a baby 21 years ago, thought it could be mine and just found out that I am the father. Obviously there was no child support paid because I could not find her. She is reluctant to let me see my child. I do not want to cause any problems in their family but I really want to meet my child. How should I proceed in convincing the mother I am not a threat to her relationship with her daughter. I just want to meet her and hopefully develop a relationship with her. Please advise.
From: Jeff, Dallas, TX
You say the mom is "reluctant," which is very different from being opposed. I suggest trying to go about this in as collaborative a way as possible. Let her know that you're happy to do this any way she prefers, and then offer some possibilities. Can you pay for appropriate individual and family therapy? Can you arrange to cover expenses for however a meeting(s) might occur? Can you write a letter for the mother to share with the daughter?
I don't mean to say that throwing money around is the answer. It's not. Rather, it's a way to show you understand the psychological complexities of what's involved, and the need for professional guidance. In fact, for sure, don't do this without professional help, including for yourself: Have you thought about what kind of relationship you'd like to have with your grown daughter? Or that she might not want you in her life? You know nothing about this person or the life she's led.
Which brings me to this: Your daughter, at 21, is an adult. You don't need her mother's permission to make contact. On the other hand, let me repeat my sentence above: You know nothing about this person or the life she's led. For that matter, you know nothing about the struggles (or lack thereof) the mom has had raising her. This mom has a right to know, Why are you doing this now? If you've really been looking for 21 years, how hard were you looking? I'm not saying you shouldn't be doing it; I'm a firm believer in honesty about where we come from. In fact, I'd bet that over the years, the mother of your daughter has thought about this possibility. But before you go any further, know why you are doing this. To foist yourself on your daughter to satisfy your needs -- without her having the benefit of support and love from her mother -- could be the epitome of selfishness.