Psychological health

I Found a New Relative on Ancestry. Now What?

Dear Dr. J.

I received the pedigree kit as a birthday gift from a friend who thought it would be interesting for me to learn more about my background. I was really excited about this and was hoping to learn that I had a much more interesting ethnic background than I was told. I discovered a lot more than I expected. I learned that I have a half-sister on my father’s side.

None of my parents are alive, so I can’t get information about this from them. My father’s relatives say they know nothing about this. Naturally, I am very curious about this half-sister. I have a brother and I always wanted a sister. I’m excited about the idea of ​​having a biological sister, but I’m also apprehensive about what she might be like and how she might react to the news of her having a sister.

I am also confused about the conditions of existence of this half-sister in general. She is five years older than me. As far as I know, my parents had no previous marriage. Did my father know that he had another child? If he did, did he hide it from my mother? Was he and my mom keeping it from me and my older brother? Was my father a liar?

This raises questions not only about my sister but also about my parents, especially my own. My brother and I have talked about this situation and we think my father may not have known about this child. He was such a good and honest man, and we like to believe that had he known about this little girl, he would have told us about her. We doubt he would have given up his child. At least, we hope he doesn’t.

My brother and I decided to hire a genealogist to help us track down and identify this half-sister. But we’re worried about turning her life upside down. We obviously share DNA with her, but she might not want to know. Perhaps, she has a kind and loving father who might think that he is her biological father. Our curiosity is overwhelming, and we would like to know who this woman is. What should we think about as we go through this process?

please advise

confused daughter

my dear daughter,

Thank you for writing to me. Over the past few years, I have worked with many individuals who have also learned about biological relatives that they weren’t aware of. I realize how confusing and interesting this is for you. Your half-sister obviously has some interest in her background, or is unlikely to offer her DNA. It is not clear if your father is aware of this daughter or not, but please be careful not to judge him based on this. He may or may not know it. Please keep your memories of your father as a good man. This will serve you and your brother well.

You are worried about connecting with your sister and possibly upending her life story. This is smart and sensitive. I think the wisest course of action here is to reach out to her and assess her interest in communicating with you. Respect her wishes. It is very likely that she received her DNA results and is aware of the amount of DNA that you share with her. If you and your half-sister decide to meet, please keep your expectations at a reasonable level. You may be biologically related, but you are nonetheless strangers. Don’t try to force a relationship. Advance slowly and respectfully. Don’t overburden her with information that might be difficult for her to handle.

My best advice is to proceed with caution and sensitivity. Please get back to me and tell me how it goes.

Dr. C.

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