DEAR ABBY: About two years ago, a close female friend, "Carla," had her first child. The biological father is from another country. When she told him she was pregnant, he refused to have anything to do with the child, so I decided to take over the role as a father.
I have been with Carla and my son since she found out about the pregnancy. When she was in her last trimester, we decided to give a shot to the relationship and become a couple. Everything was great. She had our child. When he was born, I really became a father. But after two years, everything didn't go as we planned and we broke up.
Now Carla says I'm not the father, and she won't give my son my last name. I don't know what to do. I really want him to be known as my son, but without my last name, everyone sees me only as the guy who is raising another guy's son.
The breakup took a huge toll on me. During our last fight, she said I should forget about being the father and accept that I'm only the godfather. Please tell me what I can do. -- SAD DAD IN EL SALVADOR
DEAR SAD DAD: There's a saying, "No good deed goes unpunished," and I think it applies to you. You appear to be a wonderful, loving person, and I can see how emotionally wrenching this has been for you.
However, the legal father of that little boy is the person whose name is on the birth certificate. While you have loved Carla's child and have assumed the role of father, legally you may not be. A lawyer can explain this to you, and tell you if you have any options other than being a positive, stable, masculine presence in the child's life. But I suspect the mother's wishes will prevail.