Ask Amy: I found my birth family, and they threatened me

DEAR AMY: I am adopted and have been in contact with my birth mother for five years. I have met her husband and their two sons — my half-brothers. They have also met my husband and other family members.

Columnist Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

My birth mother was disowned by her parents when she became pregnant. She was sent away to a maternity home. After I was born, she went to live with her grandparents.

I have learned that my birth father is deceased but was married with four children when I was conceived. According to my birth mother, he didn’t know about her pregnancy. His children were very young at the time.

After much thought, I reached out to them.

After months of silence, I received a formal, terse letter signed by all four of them. They want nothing to do with me and threaten to contact their attorney. They warned me to “stay away” from their mother (his widow, who is still living).

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They said that given the circumstances (i.e., an extramarital affair), I would be an “embarrassment” to their family. And they wish to “protect” their mother from this knowledge.

I have no desire to hurt these people or intrude upon their lives. I was only hoping for a DNA test to confirm paternity.

I am upset, to say the least. Amy, what do you think?

Looking for Answers

DEAR LOOKING: When people react the way your birth father’s family has, they are acting out of fear.

Look at this group, threatening to get legal with you over what, exactly? It seems most likely that knowledge of your very existence threatens to upend their ideas about their father, and hence — about themselves. Judging only on the facts you present — your birth father does not seem like the greatest guy in the world. Ironically, if his family would let you in, you might learn otherwise.

DNA testing has upended many family relationships, because it exposes the truth: that life is complicated, that no family is perfect, and that many of us live comfortably with half-buried secrets and sometimes in outright denial.

None of this complication is at all surprising to those of us who grew up in more openly chaotic and disrupted or dysfunctional homes. We all come from somewhere, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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