When I met my wife initially I did not know that she had a child. Over time, I learned of this news and asked her to marry me after 3 years of dating. My wife made the decision to tell him that I was his father and I went along so as to make life a bit easier for him and for the family.

When he became a young teenager, I adopted him and officially gave him my family name as he had been using it for school all along.

He is now married, did time in the Air Force and has his own kids as well. We had a falling out about a year ago and during that time, he signed up and took part in Ancestry.com and realized that there is now way that I could be his biological father. When I checked up on them through social media's messenger, he blasted me with all kinds of insults, told me that I lied to him, and wants nothing to do with me.

I raised him as my very own and his own brothers did not know about me not being his biological father as we had kept it hush hush to only a few people that knew ahead of time. I have never thought that I deserved anything special as I simply fell in love with his mother, married her, and fell in love with him as well. I understand where he would be confused and almost violated, but the things that he said to me are things that even enemies of mine have never said to me before and I am afraid that the damage done is beyond repair.

Has anyone ever had any experience in dealing with something like this before?

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    I am not writing this as an answer, because it isn't, but all you can do now is be honest with him. He isn't a child anymore so there is no reason to hide anything and it might help heal the rift between you if he can understand your side of the story and that while you are not his bio-dad you were his dad. Do you have any info on his bio-dad you could give him?
    – Lady_A
    Oct 2 '20 at 20:40
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    I think this is on topic here, but I wonder if a better answer might be obtained on Interpersonal Skills, given it's an adult-adult situation?
    – Joe
    Oct 2 '20 at 22:41
  • "...the things that he said to me are things that even enemies of mine have never said to me before and I am afraid that the damage done is beyond repair." On whose side? Did he do damage to you that is irreparable? Or do you think your 'deception' (a kind one) did irreparable damage? If you believe it's irreparable, why are you asking for others' experiences? That is unclear. It would help focus your question (and direct you to the proper site?) if you expressed the outcome you want to see. Thanks. Oct 3 '20 at 16:44
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    How did he not know as a young teenager that you were formally adopting him? Did you hide it from him?
    – swbarnes2
    Oct 5 '20 at 17:47

It seems like your entire question hinges on "the things that he said to me are things that even enemies of mine have never said to me before". You are aware that you've deceived him and you understand why he'd feel confused and violated, but this is your concern. So let me first address that:

You are an authority figure to your child. Regardless of whether you've ever acted authoritatively. This is simply inherent to the parent-child relationship. Authorities should tolerate foul language. You are entitled to call the president an idiot. It would be inadvisable for the president to call you the same, or - which is more relevant here - to lament your choice of words. The only professional response is to accept that you will be subjected to some criticism that seems unnuanced, and refrain from commenting. Now, your child never chose you, so the analogy is flawed in that regard, but the same power dynamics is at play.

The same isn't true for your enemies (why do you have enemies?). You're not, supposedly, an authority over them. They would be more inclined to address you in a constructive manner. Even in a healthy an loving relationship, a child may well use harsh language during a falling out. It is a token of their lower rank. So contrary to your interpretation, I'd say the fact that your child is willing to lose face and disregard proper decorum is indicative that he still acknowledges your authority, and is still emotionally invested in your relationship. You should be more concerned if he had not bothered to reply.

Now, as regards the subject matter, my personal opinion is that you have every right to consider yourself his real dad, biological or not, but the decision to deceive him instead of making that claim was obviously unfortunate. That is what it is, now. You indicate that you understand his feelings. I'd suggest you work with that, and put aside whatever he's said to you in anger. It's a long time you've kept important facts from him. Brace yourself for a long and slow process of rebuilding trust, and then start working towards that. Be patient. Don't demand trust or second chances, just persistently show that you're there and interested in mending the relationship. Don't hold your child accountable for being mad at you for lying. Explaining your point of view may have some merit once he's open to it, but that's secondary to showing you understand you've wronged him and that you're sorry about that.

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