Maria Shriver's children are trying to deal with revelations that their father, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, had a love child with a woman they knew as "Patty." She had worked in their home for nearly two decades.
Shriver and the family's housekeeper, identified by ABC News today as Mildred Patricia Baena, were apparently pregnant together, even as the woman continued to work with the three elder Schwarzenegger children.
Christopher Sargent Shriver, the youngest child of Shriver and Schwarzenegger, is 13; Baena's son is 14. Photos of the so-called "love child" have appeared online, but news outlets have obscured the boy's face.
Baena, now 50 and divorced, retired in January from her $1,200-a-week job in the Schwarzeneggers' Brentwood home with severance pay. She lives with her son and three other children in an upscale four-bedroom house in Bakersfield, Calif., outside Los Angeles.
Maria Shriver first learned the details after her husband left political office. The couple announced their separation May 6. After being questioned by the Los Angeles Times, Schwarzenegger made a statement suggesting the secret affair and his child were the cause of the separation.
The children may have only learned the truth only as the public did.
"This event is like a personal 9/11," said Dr. Alan E. Kazdin, director of Yale University's Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. "What happens after that can really contribute to the how their emotional and behavioral adjustment turns out."
Kazdin said the children have "reasons to be upset and feel betrayed" and will need stability and support from caring adults during the months ahead.
Schwarzenegger's four children with Maria Shriver are Katherine Eunice, 21; Christina Maria Aurelia, 19; Patrick Arnold, 17; and Christopher. Two of them have vocalized their loyalty to family.
"I love my family till death do us apart," tweeted Patrick, who dropped Schwarzenegger and used his mother's name, Shriver. "Some days you feel like s*** … some days you want to quit and just be normal for a bit."
Katherine also tweeted: "This is definitely not easy but I appreciate your love and support as I begin to heal and move forward in life. I will always love my family!"
Shriver said Monday in a prepared statement that she said would be her last: "This is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal."
That healing will take time, especially because the children are most likely experiencing a sense of anger and "betrayal," according to Philadelphia clinical psychologist Ann Rosen Spector, who specializes in marriage and families.
"They feel for their mother and for themselves," she said. "The times when their father wasn't available to them, they wonder if it was because he was engaging in the affairs -- it wasn't just that they had to work late. The children feel cheated on too. The soccer games missed, the movie nights without the full family participation."
"And this situation, the person [Schwarzenegger] had an affair with, was somebody they knew and potentially liked," said Spector.
There have been no reports that Baena's child ever accompanied her to work in the Schwarzenegger home or that any of the children knew her son.
"There are all these conflicting emotions -- they feel for their mother, they love their father, they are angry at their father. Perhaps they feel cheated out of time their father could have given to them, and perhaps even some affection for [Baena] -- a person who they depended on their whole life. There may be some anger at her, too. They have to get past this in some way to be a family – and it will be different."