DEAR AMY: I'm very confused about what to do. When I was 16 my late mother told me the man that was raising me was possibly not my biological father. He has always been a great father to me and provided me with everything I ever wanted or needed. I'm 33 years old now and confused. I want a DNA test to see whether he is my biological father. The problem is I don't know how to go about asking him. I love him very much and don't want him to think I'm ungrateful for everything he has done. I also don't want to upset him, but I deserve to know the truth. I want to know my roots. He has known since I was conceived there was a possibility that he is not my father. How do I ask him for a DNA test without hurting him?
DEAR DISTRESSED: Before embarking on such a challenging enterprise, it's important to realize this request probably will hurt your father's feelings. I don't think it's possible to get around that, and you should understand and acknowledge this before moving forward.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't do this, but you should anticipate the emotional impact when you do. This issue puts your father in an extremely vulnerable position. If you learn you have a different biological father, you will likely seek out that person -- and this will have an impact on both of you.
If you express understanding and compassion for your father's feelings and deal with this openly and bravely, it will be easier on him.
I understand the need you have to satisfy your curiosity about your parentage, but you should understand that your DNA roots and your emotional roots are different things. This entire process would be easier on you (and him) if you had a family therapist to counsel you as you go through it and face the consequences (positive and/or negative) of the choice.
Of course, the possibility exists that your father is your biological father; settling this question once and for all could ultimately be best for you both.