The Atlantic

Dear Therapist: My Stepson’s Mother Kept a Big Secret From Him

His mother had to give up her first boy for adoption, and she never told her second son. I don’t know whether I owe him the truth.
Source: Bianca Bagnarelli

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. Have a question? Email her at

Dear Therapist,

Many years ago, a close friend confided that she had been pregnant at age 16, and that after being with her baby for five days, she was obligated to give him up for adoption. When she told me, she was in her mid-40s and married to a lovely man with whom she had a 7-year-old son. She was clearly still anguished over this secret, which she had never told her husband.

I urged her to trust that he would be supportive, so she told him, and his response was to offer his full support in

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