True Story: I Became a Surprise Stepmother


By TaNeisha Gates

My partner walked into the room bearing a brown envelope, and the look he gave me, I immediately knew something was wrong. I had only seen that look a few times in our lives together. The day his mom passed was one of them. He sat at the dining table, opened the envelope, and indicated that I should take a look. I did so, and just from peeping over his shoulder, I saw a name at the bottom of the page. I knew that name. Now I wished I could un-see what I saw. I wished I could unread what I read, but it was too late.

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You see, I met my partner some 12 years ago when I was a freshman in college. We were both young and full of life...not that I’m old and lifeless now but ...but anyway, I digress. The usual revealing of what happened to previous relationships was shared. His last serious relationship was with a girl who had become pregnant by someone else. She did not even have the decency to tell him and straight skipped town. He followed her and she was forced to tell him to his face that she was moving in with the baby’s father.

With his heart broken, he swore off relationships for three years, until I came along. We started our lives a few years later, and now we have kids together.

I had pretty much forgotten his ex until I saw her name on the form. It was from the children’s department informing him to provide child support for his son who is now 15 years old. My husband had no idea he had a son.

I was in denial for a while, and wanted the whole thing to go away and our lives to go back to normal. I had not anticipated a stepson who was half my age. Perhaps it would have been okay if I had known from the word go that I was walking into a blended family. I interrogated my partner about whether he had known all along. Of course I knew he didn’t know but still, I wanted to blame someone. I was angry at the ex, because if she had said all those years ago that her pregnancy belonged to another man, what had changed her mind now? Why did she want to include the boy’s dad in his life now, after keeping them apart for all those years?

Still a part of me was happy because my five-year-old son could now have a brother, and my family was bigger, and they say the more the merrier, right? After all, the boy was here, and no matter what the mother had done, it was not the boy’s fault. If he carries my partner’s DNA, that means he is no different from my children. He deserves to know his real dad and have his love.

Now the real challenge lies in breaking the news to our children, especially my daughter who is eight and therefore old enough to ask some questions. I’m counting on the show Sophia the First because it has a blended family to make her see that it’s okay to have half-siblings. It will be sometime before she can hear the whole story but for now, she only needs to know she has an elder brother, not how he came along.

Of course, there is also the issue of my family finding out and what they will think. But I will tell them when I’m ready. As you can guess, I am only now coming to terms with the idea of having a new member in the family. I have yet to meet him, especially since his father wants a DNA test first. I feel that the test is unnecessary. First, because a woman can't be this confident unless she's is at least 99 percent sure the man is the baby's dad, and when my husband told her he wanted a DNA test she said she had no problem with it. But I also understand him being skeptical. Moreover, I am almost powerless in this matter and don’t have much of a say here. I am but a surprise stepmother after all.

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