DEAR ABBY: I became an unwed mother many years ago, when there was a stigma attached to having an illegitimate child. Unable to care for my son, I placed him for adoption. He has now found me.
I have a family, and my husband does not want me to tell our adult children or contact the young man and his family.
Do I go against the wishes of my husband, whom I love very much, or should I tell our children and perhaps risk my husband leaving me? -- CONFLICTED IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR CONFLICTED: From the tone of your letter your husband is the dominant partner in your marriage. If that's the case, and you really think he would leave you after all these years because you leveled with your children about the fact that they have a half-brother, then keep the secret.
However, if your relationship with your husband is anything approaching a partnership, then stand up for yourself and make it clear that you are the sum total of all your experiences -- both the joyful and the painful -- and you need to see your son, thank his family for the love and care they have given him, and let your adult children make up their own minds about whether they want to be contacted.
This is the 21st century, and we are far beyond the attitudes of the 1950s in which a human being who is born out of wedlock is a shameful secret forever to be buried. In addition, secrets have a way of always coming out eventually.