Where do I begin? Well perhaps at the beginning – except the details are sparse. Most everyone who knows the facts has died. And my Dad, well, his health is poor and memory is gone.
So where do I begin? Well here are the details as I know them. I have another brother – unknown to us throughout my life – now here he is.
Dennis has been looking for his family his entire life. Wondering who his father was. Never knowing. Having a poor excuse of a step-father, and after the death of his mother when he was only seven years old, he struggled to make sense of all the loss in his life. Spending his childhood bouncing from family to foster care. Determined not to become the juvenile delinquent everyone in the “system” assumed was his fate.
Until at age 63, DNA came knocking. Dennis has been on Ancestry for several years. I have been on Ancestry for several years, but I had never taken the DNA test. I bought a test for my Dad years ago, but he never took it, and the test was misplaced when we moved my Dad out of his big house.
But Dennis took the test, and my cousin took the test and BAM! First cousins found each other…meaning Dennis was much closer to finding his father…meaning it could only be my uncle (who has passed) or my own father.
Wow. This information all came together last spring and my cousin, brother, sister and I welcomed Dennis, whether he was cousin or brother, and met him for dinner one evening in June.
And he looked just like my Dad. Mind blown.
After our meeting, I felt a huge obligation to Dennis to get the answer, and so I did a DNA test and I got my Dad to do one. Three weeks later, the results showed 100% Dennis is my half sibling, my father’s child.
Dennis is happy to know. He was emotional and excited and relieved. Our family is happy for him. Happy to welcome him. Wishing my Dad wasn’t so far gone into Alzeheimers that we could get more answers. But we are all, including Dennis, in agreement my Dad should not be told who Dennis is due to Dad’s precarious health. For now anyway.
But Dennis has now met my Dad (our Dad). And we will make it possible for Dennis to meet him again, and again. And we will welcome Dennis into our crazy wired family, and probably scare him off with all the craziness we seem to produce – Dennis hasn’t had a family like this. Between my sister, brother and I there are a total of 9 children with 5 spouses and 10 grand children.
Our belief right now is that my Dad never knew Dennis was out there. We firmly believe he would never have shirked that responsibility – it’s not the kind of man he was. My father would have been 22 years old when Dennis was conceived in 1955…he married my mother in 1957 and my sister was born in 1958…I came along two years later, my brother a year after that.
And so here we are. So many questions that may never be resolved, but the biggest question of all for Dennis has been answered. I am glad.
The development of DNA is an amazing thing, providing forensics and families an opportunity to learn things that generations in the past could not even have dreamed of. It must be used responsibly, and not all DNA results and findings turn out positive for families…some people are hurt , embarrassed, angry and unable to cope with information DNA might bring to light. Our family however, views it as a fascinating development and we all are pleased with the unexpected news.
You may have read my book review Inheritance, a book I read shortly before this all happened to my family. In the book a women learns her biological father was a sperm donor – not the man she grew up believing was her Dad. Her search for the sperm donor created lots of questions; what are his rights as an anonymous donor; what are her rights to know who her biological father is; what about genetic diseases; what about unknown siblings and the potential of inter-genetic marriages; should there be more control over DNA and results?
Life was different in the 1950’s and women who got pregnant so often were shamed and hidden. But in the 1950’s and long before, men often carried no responsibility and or knowledge of pregnancies they may have had a hand in – creating many little humans who never knew the truth.
But today, with the continuing advancement of DNA, there are no longer any secrets…lots of men may be wondering…lots of families may be affected. It’s only going to grow.
For me, and this situation in my own family I just feel we must embrace it and move forward. What more can we do? We can’t deny or walk away and why would we? We have found a buried treasure, something we didn’t know was lost. My siblings who I have known all my life and my new sibling who we just met, will now go forward and tread lightly and see what happens next. I’m just sorry it took so long.
Note – I am aware of at least ten people I know who have had similar developments in their families. If you are so inclined, and have a story of your own, feel free to share in the comments below.
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