Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Painful Chapter From the Past Now Haunts Couple's Present

DEAR ABBY: Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I hired a 16-year-old girl, "Susan," as a "mother's helper" for the summer. She watched our children while my husband, "Drew," and I worked. Once in a while Susan would spend the night. On one of those nights, Drew raped Susan and she became pregnant.

Charges were not filed, and Drew begged my forgiveness. Drew paid for Susan's medical expenses and she was sent away to a maternity home. The baby was adopted. We never knew whether the child was a boy or a girl.

We moved 800 miles away to get over the shame, and after a lot of hard work, we repaired our marriage. We never told our children about Susan and their father.

Last week, Drew received a special delivery letter from his birth daughter. She wants to meet him and ask him some questions. She has already met Susan, who did not tell her about the rape. Susan told her she was the result of a "relationship that didn't work out."

Abby, should Drew refuse to meet her? Should he tell her the truth? Should we tell our grown children? We need your help. -- PAIN REVISITED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR PAIN REVISITED: Your husband was the beneficiary of outdated thinking from the "dark ages." Today he would be a registered sex offender with a prison record.

Drew should meet the girl he fathered. If asked, he should corroborate the story that her mother has told her. He should also answer any questions regarding medical history that could affect her and her children.

Unless you want your children to know this disgraceful chapter in their father's life, I see no reason to reveal the rest of the story to them.