The transcript below has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Zhang: How did you find out? Was it your daughter who took an AncestryDNA test?
Chris: Yes. I’m into genealogy, and so myself, my ex-wife, and the grandparents are all taking the DNA tests. They had a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale back last year, and my daughter was curious about her ethnicity and so she asked us for a test. My ex said, “No, you already know who you are because everybody’s tested.” I knew she was lying, so I said, “Okay, I’ll buy you a test.”
Zhang: So you had already suspected something.
Chris: I knew my ex-wife was having affairs back then, and I couldn’t catch her. When I bought the test, my daughter went and told her mom, and then an hour and a half, two hours later, in the middle of the night, my ex gets up and she says, “I need to talk to you ’cause I had an affair. I think it was a two-year-long affair.”
The worst was to see the reaction of my daughter. She just cried and cried. It was like a nuclear bomb going off. It changed the dynamic for a long time between my son and her.
Zhang: How so?
Chris: My son said, “You’re the reason why our family is breaking up. You’re the reason Dad’s divorcing my mom.” I put a stop to that. I said, “No, I don’t want to ever hear that. She’s an innocent person in this.” That NPE stuff ripples throughout families. It’s pretty devastating. But my family treats her just like she’s a biological child. They consider her my daughter, their granddaughter, their niece.
Zhang: Did finding out change your relationship with your daughter, even if just at first?
Chris: On the day that I found out, I was like, I wanted to reject her, because I said my boundary was I will not raise another man’s child from an affair. My mom put me straight. She was like, “She’s innocent in this. Don’t blame her.” So I consider her my daughter. I just say she’s my daughter. I even tease her a little bit, saying, “Oh, you got this trait from me,” which she chuckled at. Sometimes it’s hard, ’cause she reminds me of what my ex did.
Zhang: Being a parent—it’s like this is incredibly upsetting for you, but you also have to be a parent and protect your child and think about her feelings.
Chris: Yes, you do. She was worried … this is a conversation we had. She goes, “Dad, I’m worried you’re going to reject me.” I said, “I’ll never reject you. I’ll always be your father.” I just consider her my daughter, and I love her just the same—the love hasn’t changed at all.
She has zero interest in meeting her biological father. She still comes over with my biological son. She calls me Dad. We were talking about I got diagnosed with rosacea. It runs in my family, and she was saying, “Oh, I have a good complexion.” And I said, “Oh, you probably got it from your dad.” And she goes, “Dad, you can say biological father. He just created me, but you’re my dad.” [Pause] Made me cry in the restaurant.