A few months ago we included a notice about The Ethicist column in The New York Times in which The Ethicist (the name alone would freak me out) told a man who had fathered the girl across the street that he had no right ever to tell her he was her father, unless her mother, and her legal father (who thought he was her biological father) all agreed beforehand. The Ethicist came down on the side then of withholding the truth from the individual. You can see this probably did not sit well with First Mother.
Now Ariel Kaminer, The Ethicist, had another truth-telling column in the January 8 issue of the NYTimes Magazine: Name Withheld from El Paso writes and says he has a "self-contained" yard where he keeps a dog, and into that yard from which the dog cannot escape a neighbor's cat has strayed. Cat ends up "sleeping with the fishes." Owner of said cat is recovering from "extensive cancer treatment." Should Name Withheld tell the cancer patient neighbor that his dog killed the cat, or can he let her think the cat is out there "playing in the park?"
The Ethicist says: "False hope is not a gift. Please tell her the whole truth." Hi, Neighbor, my dog killed your cat....now don't you feel better knowing the truth? Can we still be friends, now that I've got that off my chest?
What? According to The Ethicist, it's right to inform the neighbor that his or her cat, left to his own devices, decided to come into an area where there is a loose dog of unknown friendliness roaming, and that he suffered the consequences, but it's okay to keep silent about something as true knowledge of one's father?
I think The Ethicist needs to rethink his or her priorities. And I think she's wrong on both counts. If you have a cat and let it roam freely outside, where it kills birds, especially fledglings in the spring and summer, and other small rodents such as chipmunks, the cat's owner also has to accept that the cat himself may come to a swift and brutal demise also. Some dogs, like cats, will chase and kill other animals; it is also in their nature. I once had to scream bloody murder at my late dog Jack to drop the squirrel he had in his mouth. He and the two dog buddies he was with turned to me and looked shocked that I could yell that loud, but Jack dropped the squirrel and it ran away. Death averted that day, and maybe Jack learned that squirrels were off limits.
But to return to the main here--Do individuals have the right to know the truth of their origins? If they do not, then the whole argument about the right to an original birth certificate for all, adopted individuals included, is an iffy proposition. If it's all right not to tell someone who their real father is, then it is also permissible to keep adoptees' birth certificates under lock and key from the person they were issued for and about: the individual whose birth certificate it is.As I've said here before: Embarrassment alone is not reason enough to deny the truth of one's origins.
THE TELLING TEN PERCENT
I read somewhere that approximately ten percent of the families who come in for blood work to see if a parent is a donor match for his child discovers that the biological father is someone other than the man so named on the birth certificate. It happened in my own family, and I admit I never learned if my own first cousin knew that his "father," a man he told me he despised, was not his biological father. I hesitated to tell my cousin, wrestled with how I might find out if he knew the truth, but before I did anything, my cousin died. Another relative discovered that her daughter was not her husband's offspring, but that of a man she had a brief affair with twenty years earlier. My relative's marriage was on the rocks, as the daughter herself found her dad having a cozy dinner with someone he was having an affair with. Now my cousin, the young woman's mother, is married to the father of her daughter. Yes, I know not all such complications have such sweet endings, perfect for a romance novel, but this one did. Last I heard, all was well. And my cousin is very happy.
And to hear a song about learning the truth...which apparently Eddie Vedder talked about in a PBS special.--lorraine
Source: A Dog’s Right to Life?
Biological Fathers everywhere hiding in plain sight