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A Fathers Secret

Discussion forum for parents in Australia


A Fathers Secret

I married young and was devastated when I learnt I could not father children. Having a family was my only real goal in life.

After 5 years of IVF, we finally had our first daughter. I thought I owed her a biological sibling and two years later we were successful having our second daughter from the same donor.

Back in those days IVF was a fairly new concept and donors from Australia were scare so we reached out to the United States.

After 14 years of marriage, I found myself divorced however, my daughters are still the only good thing I achieved in life.

I have an estranged and difficult relationship with my ex wife but maintained a close bond with my daughters who are now 18 and 16. They both reside with my ex.

I have always battled with the notion of telling my daughters that I am not their biological father but as I have matured, I have wondered more often if I am being dishonest and owe them the truth. Other than my ex and I, no other family members are aware of my secret.

I have chronic depression and the only thing that keeps me going is having my beautiful girls in my life.

My worst fear is losing them should I tell them the truth.

I am aware that it would have been best to tell them both when they were younger, however life just past me by.

Do I wait further until they are adults or should I rip off the Band-Aid and risk losing everything?
Active scribe

Re: A Fathers Secret

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Hi @Johnny888 Smiley Happy 

Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like a stressful situation and that you're feeling quite concerned on what is the right thing to do by your daughters. You care about your daughters, they're very lucky to have you. 

I'm wondering how you are looking after yourself ? There is parentline if you wanted to ask a counsellor for some advice from 8am to 10pm. It might help you to process your thoughts and feelings and the ongoing inner conflict that you seem to be dealing with. 

Whatever you chose to do, I am sure your daughters will love and appreciate you.

Hope this is helpful, let us know how you get on.

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: A Fathers Secret

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Hi Johnny,

Thank you so much for writing into the forum and sharing what is a very painful secret. That's one of the things I really like about being able to come here that you can share something very private anonymously and hopefully get some good advice and also I think there's a sense of relief being able to share a secret like hitting the release on a pressure cooker. 

I'm Mum to a 19 year old son and 17 year old daughter. 

I had two aunts who couldn't have children and went unsuccessfully through IVF. So although this isn't something I've experienced myself, I've had exposure. I've had a few friends who were adopted but all knew from a young age and one found her birth mother and her parents had subsequently married. Her adopted parents were quite elderly and they were always gracious and happy for a relationship there but they were pretty incredible people. 

I personally feel it would be better for you to tell them. There are these Ancestry DNA tests and people can do them for fun and get some unexpected results. I have a blogging friend who is in her 70s I think and took a test and found out her father wasn't her biological father and she was related to the local doctor and it looks like that was some kind of donor thing years ago. She has come a across a few people who have had similar experiences and I think there was an episode of Insight which addressed this as well. 

There are numerous issues to consider from your point of view and theirs. One point that I would want to know if I was them is who is the donor? Do you know or can you find out? That would be something I would look into first before telling them. There will be people who wouldn't care about a biological donor and not want to know more and at the other extreme are those who want to know everything. They might also suspect they're not like you in some ways and it might not be a huge surprise. I think it's very encouraging that your relationship has been strong despite your divorce and that their mother hasn't spilled the beans. 

I have found a link which should be helpful:

My comments so far have focused more on your daughters than yourself. However, I would recommend you have some counseling or be able to talk to a close relative or friend before you start going down this path to get yourself into good psychological shape. I also think that when you talk to your daughters, it would be good to share your heartbreak about not being able to be a biological father and the lengths you and their mother went through to have them and how much you love them. I also wonder whether you and their mother could work together on this. That would give them added support. 

I hope that helps and you sound like such a loving and caring Dad and I hope this turns out well.

Best wishes,



Prolific scribe

Re: A Fathers Secret

Hey @Johnny888 

I just had a read through your post and I am sorry to hear that you are going through such a challenging time at the moment. I wanted to thank you for being so open and honest with us all about this. It takes a lot of courage and strength to share such personal things like this online, and you should be really proud of yourself for taking that step.

I can hear how much your daughters mean to you and they are so lucky to have such a loving and caring father like you. I can also hear that you have some concerns around what the best decision going forward will be for both your daughters and yourself which is very understandable. It is very clear how much your family and daughter means to you – and have always meant to you.

I know you mentioned that you have chronic depression and I was wondering if you were receiving any treatment for this or if you have receieved any professional support?

I was also curious about what other supports you have in your life, whether it be friends, family members, or other health services or professionals?

This is certainly a lot to be dealing with on your own and you deserve all the support available to you. Is there anyone else in your life that you could speak to about this, and about how you are feeling and get some support from?

I can hear how much of a difficult situation this must be for you and I wanted to thank you again for being so open about this. Remember that we are all here to listen and support you as best as we can and you don’t have to go through this alone.

I look forward to hearing back from you soon and wish you all the best.

Take care,


Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: A Fathers Secret

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Hey @Johnny888 

I'm sorry I didn't pick up on your chronic depression when I first read your message. I was so focused on the conception of your daughters and its impact that I somehow overlooked it. While there is no magic wand for overcoming any chronic situation, there are small things which can make a difference. I have being living with a fairly acute autoimmune disease for 17 years and it's certainly a rollercoaster ride. While nothing will cure that and I have been told my lungs are cactus, there have been small things which have helped and there have been many times where those first few steps are so invisible that you'd never believe any meaningful change is possible. I have regular occupational therapy which offers a practical pathway towards overcoming difficulties including mental health. MY OT has been influence by a book by James Clear: "Atomic Habits" which is all about starting very small. I am now about halfway through the book and its very good. A few of the things I try to do is a 10 minutes walk each day, getting a bit of sunshine and getting out of the house. The thing I have noticed when I'm out is that there are almost always Rainbow Lorikeets. I don't know whether they are as cheerful as they sound but I find them uplifting and they cheer me up. 

I hope this helps. Sometimes things get grindingly tough but hang in there and writing this message into our parenting forum really does constitute a significant step towards trying to find a way forward. 

Take care!
Best wishes,


Active scribe

Re: A Fathers Secret

Good evening,

I'm sorry to hear of your divorce. I do feel your daughters will understand why you waited until an appropriate age to tell them.

I guess it's a personal decision but I do feel that they will love you just the same & you will & are their Dad.
Casual scribe

Re: A Fathers Secret

I can speak from experience that what matters most is that your daughters understand how much you love them and will always be there for them. They are still young so it will be a lot to process but you will get through it together Smiley Happy