Written by Marguerite Reardon, Special to CNN
It’s getting harder and harder to keep your family secret. When Ellie Cooper (not her real name) left her husband, Andrew, to marry Brian, she had hopes that her secret relationship would remain hidden, secure in the knowledge that her and Brian would leave no one hanging.
But after five years of careful planning, they have introduced their love child to her father. And the new father, a stranger who promised to keep his wife’s identity secret, is losing patience.
Ellie Cooper and Brian met online in 2010. Ellie promised herself that she wouldn’t marry him; she didn’t want Brian’s sons’ chances of seeing their father dimmed. Brian understood her heartbreak, having lost his wife to cancer three years earlier. But to break the news to the rest of his family was to throw things into turmoil.
With his sons ages 3 and 5, Brian was, at first, reluctant to take them to Grandma’s house to say hello to Ellie’s baby. Now, Ellie says that Brian’s behavior has escalated.
“Now, Brian has taken [the baby] to specific, carefully chosen locations,” Ellie says. “He wants to show everyone, to be the expert, and be very public about the fact that he has a baby.”
That attitude is “very secretive,” Ellie adds. “It’s like he’s trying to avoid everyone. Everyone is out to look him in the eye.”
Brian asked to be John Doe in the legal paperwork: Elliott David Cohen, a former customer support representative. Elliot had given him his name years ago — Elliott David Cohen. He immediately signed Brian’s adoption papers and retained a lawyer to agree to suppress his birth identity. Elliott’s birth mother, Natalie, has offered no comment about his whereabouts.
Ellie and Brian raised their son in secret until Elliott was born. For Ellie, the family had always been her top priority.