A Non- Paternity Event (“NPE”) was originally the term used to explain the break in the paternal line for a male. In genetics and genealogy, the term signified that a person’s attributed father was not their biological father and that the family surname did not match the bloodline. Someone was presumed to be an individual’s father by the individual, the parents, their family or the healthcare practitioner involved. Today, the term is used more broadly to describe a break in the family line; for males or females with a misattributed father or mother. The acronym “NPE” is also used to describe individuals who learned they were conceived as a result of the event. Some also use the acronym to mean “Not Parent Expected.”
My name’s Kara and I’m a NPE. When people ask me what NPE stands for, I tell them “Not Parent Expected” and then add, “it’s complicated,” because it is. I was born in Seattle to a single mom. My dad, who’d cleaned himself up briefly had relapsed into heroin use and left my mom just two months after they were married. They divorced before I was one. My mom’s parents were murdered when I was four—but that’s another story. So, it was pretty much just mom and me while I was growing up.
I've thought a lot about this the past few days. No one enjoys being rejected.
But, I think NPEs have a really raw place in our hearts filled with fear and dread of being rejected. It is only natural. We want to be accepted into loving open arms. The Inner Child in us needs this. And some of the stories we have here end with just that image... being welcomed with open arms and smiles and happy tears.
How do you share a story like this? How and when do I tell my friends that I am going through something that has turned so complex that I am still shuffling through the wreckage after a year and a half? How do I share something that feels so shameful?
My parents told me that I was not my father's biological daughter over the phone one Friday afternoon. They knew I had been in contact with WD (a very close biological relative that I had never heard of via 23 and Me to try to figure out our connection) and grew concerned that I would find out on my own, so they felt like they had to tell me over the phone rather than wait for our summer visit. I remember feeling such a range of emotions all at once - confused, angry, upset, sad, betrayed, and shame. I hung up the phone and texted my husband at work to call me immediately.
You find out information that rocks your world to the very core. You spend several days or weeks or months absorbing this news and realigning every thing you thought you knew about yourself, your parents, your siblings. Then you embark on a quest to rewrite your history and fill in a large hole at your very center.
Hello everyone... I am so happy to have found you! I want to make an introduction to my story through a podcast I did last year for The Dougy Center, a community for bereaved adults and children. I have had the fortune to be a volunteer facilitator with this center for over a decade, but a strange twist of events and a DNA test later, left me right back in the center of a new kind of grief. My father who raised me died in a car accident just before I graduated from high school. Two decades later, in 2014, a DNA test revealed he wasn't my biological father.
So today was my first session with a therapist. The first thing my daughter asked when she called to find out how it went was whether there was an exit room. No, not even close. When I pulled up to the building of the address I was looking for, there was not even a sign to tell me where I was.
I'm sure it's different for each different person, but right now, this is how it's feeling for me: my sense of self may be shattered, but as I begin picking up the pieces to fit them back together again, I find I'm holding in my hands new pieces that I never had before, and the new pieces seem to fit right where all the gaps in my old sense of self used to be.