Ask Amy: Long-ago relationship begets long-lost child

Dear Amy: Thirty years ago, I began a romantic relationship with “Bonnie.” We were both married.

The relationship lasted for 16 years and produced a child (“W”).

Bonnie was very happy that I was W’s father. I was able to visit/play with W as a toddler and had two chance meetings with W as a child.

After 16 years, Bonnie stopped seeing me, but we continued to talk by phone almost daily. We talked for six years, but then Bonnie abruptly stopped.

That was nine years ago.

Besides missing Bonnie, I really miss hearing about W. Bonnie knew I loved children and she did a wonderful job of informing me of W’s life.

I have tried contacting Bonnie, but she has not responded.

Through social media I see that W is doing well and appears to have a good life.

I don’t know if Bonnie ever told W about me, but I imagine it’s a very difficult subject to bring up to your adult child when you’re still married.

W works near where I live, and I would like to introduce myself.

I would much rather have Bonnie introduce me, but she seems to have closed that door.

It would be very easy for me to prove that I am W’s father.

I don’t want to interfere with Bonnie’s marriage.

The main thing I want is for W to know that I care.

I don’t think W has the best relationship with Bonnie’s husband, and I hope meeting me would help.

Even though it would be startling and upsetting, I wouldn’t expect W to change their life for me.

Any ongoing relationship would be totally up to W.

Children should know who their biological parents are, but should I do this?

— Eager Dad

Dear Eager: You outline decades of infidelity and very brief contact with the child you fathered — with no acknowledgment, involvement, or financial support — and then ask if you are doing the right thing.

Um, no to that.

No to all of that.

Yes, “W” has the right to know their DNA heritage, and you should disclose this. W also has the right to accept or reject having a personal relationship with you.

And yes, this contact could blow up “Bonnie’s” marriage and affect everyone’s life (including yours) in potentially extremely profound ways.

I suggest reaching out to W via private message (that way you can see if the message has been opened and read).

Include all the ways W can contact you, and wait for W to decide what to do about this potentially life-altering and important turn.

Dear Amy: I work in a hospital that has a dress code that clearly states that staff is not to wear perfume or cologne.

I’m allergic to some scents and chemicals and I have submitted a letter from my doctor to the employee health department and the director of nursing — to no avail.

Every employee on my unit knows of my allergy and they continue to wear strong perfume and cologne.

Usually it makes me vomit several times during my shift.

I typically get short of breath, but I have a rescue inhaler and typically recover within an hour or so.

Last week I had a swollen tongue and sores in my mouth due to exposure.

My last reaction was terrifying and it took several days for the sores to go away.

I love my job.

I’ve been there over eight years and I was hoping to retire from there (I’m 50).

What should I do?

— Allergic Employee

Dear Allergic: Your co-workers are putting your health at risk, and your body’s response — vomiting, shortness of breath, and sores — might also expose your medically fragile patients to some risk.

The way you describe the behavior of your colleagues amounts to workplace bullying, and a callous disregard for your health.

You should kick your advocacy up several notches, contacting HR, your union (if you have one), an employment lawyer, and researching your rights and options through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (

Dear Amy: “Extremely Conflicted Husband” described his wife’s advanced dementia and wondered if he should succumb to temptation and respond to an aggressive lady friend he’d gone to high school with.

I could not believe that you told him to go ahead.

— Upset

Dear Upset: I advised Conflicted to avoid his former high school fling. I did say that I thought he could pursue a relationship with a kind and stable person — as long as he did not abandon his wife.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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