Surprise! We’re family

I did some research and found some long-lost family – including my biological father. Should I make contact? 

Sure, says our elder. Take that first step in a non-threatening way.


Dear EWC

I’ve been doing some genealogy research during lockdown, and recently stumbled across some long-lost family members. I don’t know if I should contact them or not. I am the product of my mom having a very short-term relationship with my biological father, and he was not in the picture for me. It turns out he had a wife, and, as I learned, eight other children. On the one hand, I’d like to acknowledge them as relations, but on the other, I don’t want to rock their boat too much. I don’t expect some kind of open-arms welcome; I’d just like to say, “Hello, how are you?” and move along. Should I attempt to make contact?


Cairnie replies

This is a major question, and one an increasing number of families are facing with DNA testing and genealogy research. There is even a TV show (“Long Lost Family” TLC) about these situations.

It sounds as if you have been considering both sides of the question – your right to know more about a genetic, biological connection, and their right to privacy (especially if your biological dad never revealed – or never knew – that he had another daughter, you).

My personal advice is that you have a right to make contact. Perhaps with a letter or an email, so that you’re introducing yourself doesn’t come as a shock in a phone call or in person. Explain how you learned about his identity, reveal your motives (you are interested in meeting, surprised and curious about your half-siblings, etc), maybe tell him a little about yourself. Offer a next step: would he consider meeting you or talking on the telephone?

Your curiosity is understandable. And his medical history has importance to knowing your genetic risks and history. So if you are comfortable, I think it’s fair to take the first step, in a non-threatening way. And see what happens.

Worst case, you get no response (or he denies any involvement), and you are where you are now, and at least you know. Best case, he responds, is interested in contact, and you see where you go from there together.

At the same time, you might want to alert your mom about what you found and what you’re planning. She should know if your biological dad knows about you, and may have insights into how he might respond to any contact.

Good luck. I hope you find whatever you’re looking for.

Article #: 473428

Category: Family

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