I met my partner when she was 6 months pregnant. I took my daughter on as my own. I have and will always be her dad. She is now 10 years old and three years ago we lost her mam so it is me who is raising her on my own. How do I and when do I tell her that I am not her biological father?.
Personally i wouldn't before she is 18 (unless she asks)
1) Puberty can be a period of insecurity. I don't see what telling her would bring her except doubt. If you are a loving dad that is the most important thing she needs to know I'm assuming her the read dad or family on that isn't in the picture in any shape or form
2) Once she is an adult people have a right to know their genetic identity. I think for kids it's perfectly fine to make the decision for them. As an adult she has the memories of you as a dad who cares for her and should be able to give that new information the right place.
That said, you might look into some legal advice about your formal status. I can't imagine any child services taking her away or anything like that but depending on where you live there might be some issues if you pass away and want to leave her an inheritance.
As for the how, maybe invite some relative who she trusts to be there. Pick a quiet moment and just tell her like you told us. I'm afraid i have no better advice on that part.
This is a very difficult choice. You have two competing choices:
- Tell her now, but risk she will feel betrayed or worse worthless (a parents-less child)
- Tell her later, and risk she will feel lied to all her life
As the other excellent answer said, don't tell her now, you don't know how hard it might be for her. On the other hand, be prepared for when you will tell her, she will ask you: why you lied to me, why didn't you tell me earlier.
So, prepare now. Start a blog, a diary, write down your thoughts on why you think it's best to wait and give the note to a lawyer. You want to show her how hard you thought about it.
When you think she is ready, make an appointment with a specialist, meet with him/her beforehand to explain the situation. When she'll ask why didn't you tell me before, explain your reasons, but tell her it was a hard choice. You did not want to betray her. Show her the blog or diary, give her the name of the lawyer where she can retrieve the dated letter. She'll understand you thought about her, what was best. She'll hear your reasons then and read your reasons now. She can follow your thought process and not just the end result.
You don't want her to ever feel betrayed (not that you are doing anything wrong, but feelings are difficult to explain), and you want to show her you never intended to do that, not now, nor later.