Sage Advice: DNA Test Reveals Half-Sibling, but Dad Doesn't Want to Know
Is ignorance, in fact, bliss?
Dear Amy: I am one of the many who have found a half-sibling through DNA testing. The birth mother never told my father that she was pregnant, and the child was put up for adoption over 50 years ago.
I told my dad about this and he reacted by getting angry and stopping the conversation by telling me to not have contact with the new half-sibling. I gave it a few months and gently brought it up again, only to be shut down right away. He does not wish to discuss it. I was going to ask him to tell my sibling that we have a newly discovered half-sibling out there, but I know that is out of the question.
I am excited about my new relative and would like to meet and get to know them. I wish my dad would be open to discussing this. Before moving forward, I would like to tell my other sibling about our new half-sibling. I am not sure if they will share my excitement but then they can decide if they’d like to pursue a relationship as well. I worry that I am going behind my dad’s back and he’ll be furious that I have shared his secret. The cat is already out of the bag; all it would take is another relative to take a DNA test for someone else to tell my sibling.
I am feeling quite anxious about having to keep this a secret. How do I tell my sibling that we have a half-sibling if our father is not open to discussing this? I’d like to move forward. I am feeling quite anxious about having to keep this a secret. How do I tell my sibling that we have a half-sibling if our father is not open to discussing this? I’d like to move forward.
– Reluctant Secret Holder
Dear Reluctant: Your father had no knowledge of this child he fathered, so the existence of your half-sibling has not been a long-held secret. Don’t hold this as a secret now.
Your father’s response to this is completely understandable. He feels betrayed and, of course, he is unhappy about it. He does not want to face the imponderable complications of this possible relationship. He assumes it will upend your family, but, if anecdotal evidence I’ve collected on DNA discoveries is accurate, the toughest part of the experience is the anticipation. Your father will not give you permission to pursue this. Understand it and forgive him for his own reaction.
I suggest you take this in discreet stages. Keep your own expectations modest. After you make some initial contact with your half-sibling, tell your father that you are going to inform your other sibling. Reassure your father every step of the way, and if he refuses to discuss it, proceed on your own.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2019 by Amy Dickinson