Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. R. Eric Thomas is filling in as Prudie for Jenée Desmond-Harris while she’s on parental leave. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)
Q. Oh Baby: Over the past couple of years I’ve gotten to know my husband’s friend Alan. Alan is nice, smart, and a loving father and husband. His little ones played with my little ones before he and his wife recently moved. He’s also the only Black member of my husband’s college friend group (the college was rural and in a part of the South I used to avoid). I’m also a Black woman.
Just last week my husband and a few friends got together to see another college friend named Amy who was in town for a few days. As I was getting ready to meet her, my husband mentioned that a little after college Amy told my husband something shocking about her and Alan.
She had Alan’s baby secretly and gave him up for adoption. Amy is white and from a good family, and probably doesn’t understand the implications of putting any baby in the system, much less a Black one. I am upset.
The kid is probably around 17 by now. He might be totally fine, but he might not be. My husband has no idea as to why Amy confided this information in him (she did try to date my husband unsuccessfully). I asked if Alan were abusive or incredibly different in college. My husband says he was pretty nice back then too. When I got even more upset, my husband said sometimes Amy is a compulsive liar, but he’s thought about her statement for almost two decades. He also told me not to “go do anything stupid.”
So what is appropriate here? I want to tell Alan, or send him an ancestry DNA kit anonymously with a note about long lost family (maybe the kid will find him as an adult). That seems incredibly intrusive, but if this is true Alan has the right to know.
A. Stay as far away from this situation as you can. There are just so many red flags—Amy’s purported lying, the side quest where she tried to date your husband, the casualness with which your husband is dropping these tidbits. It’s a mess. And from your letter, it doesn’t seem like you know Alan well enough to be the bearer of shocking, and shockingly incomplete, news. You don’t have any information about the child, you can’t point him in the right direction; respectfully, you will not be helpful in this situation. You can encourage your husband to tell Alan, as they have a long relationship and he’s the one whom Amy actually told. But this situation is ultimately between Alan, Amy, and the child.
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