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Archive for Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Man has a right to confirm daughter’s paternity

December 5, 2000

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Dear Ann: I have no idea how to deal with this situation, and I hope you have some advice for me.

I divorced my wife eight years ago. We have an 11-year-old daughter. Last year, my ex-wife wanted to take our daughter out of the country because her new husband had a better job opportunity overseas. I blocked her from doing this because our divorce agreement gives me the right to make all the decisions about our daughter's education. Her new husband was so furious about being unable to accept the promotion that he and my ex-wife ended up getting a divorce.

The man then proceeded to blab all over town the sordid details of my ex-wife's infidelities while we were married. This now casts some doubt on the paternity of our daughter. When I asked my ex about going for a DNA test, she refused and acted insulted. I now believe I may not be the father of that 11-year-old but was used as a convenient vehicle for child support. Should I take my daughter and get the DNA test without my ex-wife's approval? Please advise me. In Limbo in Florida

Dear Limbo: By all means, take the DNA test. You need to know, once and for all, whether or not you are the child's father. Regardless of the test's outcome, I hope you will remain in her life. You are the only father she knows. Please don't punish her if you discover your ex-wife lied.

Dear Ann: You "messed up" with your advice to "Messed Up in Maryland." She told her mother-in-law that she was pregnant and asked her to please keep it a secret. The woman spilled the beans to everybody she knew.

I have had two miscarriages. The first time I became pregnant, I was so thrilled that I told my mother, my mother-in-law and a few close friends. You have no idea how hard it was for me to make the calls and tell them I had miscarried. The second time I became pregnant, I didn't tell a soul.

"Messed Up" had every right to be angry. Her mother-in-law had no business opening up her mouth. She promised to keep a secret and didn't do it. That mother-in-law should not be surprised if next time, she is the last to know. Understanding in Omaha, Neb.

Dear Omaha: The minute more than two people know a secret, it is no longer a secret. Leaks inevitably occur, and of course, there is always a good excuse. While I agree that the mother-in-law was wrong to blab, it was unreasonable for the daughter-in-law to have such high expectations for Mom's discretion.

No secret is secure when it goes beyond the boundaries of two people. This is one statement you can take to the bank.

Dear Ann: Thank you for that fine column about screening for depression. I'd like to point out that sometimes depression can mask a serious physical illness. For example, a common symptom of thyroid disease is mood disturbance, which can be mistaken for depression, bipolar disease or senility. In fact, a diagnosis of senility may mask a urinary tract infection, vitamin deficiency, head injury or a problem with overmedication.

Depression is a serious illness, but if there is an underlying medical cause, treatment can lead to hit-or-miss drug therapy that may not actually help. Urge your readers who are depressed to check the possibility of a physical illness. It's worth the effort. Paul in Sacramento

Dear Paul: A competent psychiatrist always insists that his or her patients undergo a physical exam before treatment. Thanks for the reminder.

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