DNA test­ing re­veals shock­ing re­sults

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON Email: askamy@tri­bune.com Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: I re­cently found out through a DNA test that the man I thought was my fa­ther for more than 60 years is not my bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther. The DNA test also revealed that I have a half-sis­ter.

I do not want to be as­so­ci­ated with this fam­ily and have de­cided not to com­mu­ni­cate this new in­for­ma­tion with any of them.

I have sev­eral sib­lings with whom I would like to share this in­for­ma­tion, but I’m scared they will spill the beans to their spouses or others, and the

“news” will be all over town.

It would be em­bar­rass­ing to our fam­ily name as well as to them and me (my par­ents are both de­ceased, as is the “sperm donor”).

Since I don’t be­lieve shar­ing this info will be of any ben­e­fit to any­one, I now have to fig­ure out how to deal with keeping this se­cret for the rest of my life.

Some­times I feel like I’m about to ex­plode. The stress of learn­ing this is about too much to bear and has made me see my mother in a very neg­a­tive light.

She had to have known the truth of my bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther, and yet kept quiet to save her own rep­u­ta­tion. (Iron­i­cally, that is what I’m now con­sid­er­ing do­ing through my own si­lence.)

I’m sure my fa­ther had no idea that he was not my bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther. Amy, he doted on me!

Any sug­ges­tions about how to deal with my new fam­ily se­cret? — MIXED -UP!

Dear Mixed-Up: I’ve re­ceived many ques­tions re­gard­ing re­sults of DNA test­ing, and while many peo­ple re­port pos­i­tive re­ac­tions, even when the news is un­ex­pected, there is no ques­tion that re­sults like yours can pull a per­son into a tail­spin.

Give your­self some time to process this.

I un­der­stand that this news up­ends your own ideas of who you are, but I’d like to of­fer you an al­ter­na­tive view: You are who you’ve al­ways thought you were. Your fam­ily is your fam­ily. The fa­ther who raised and doted on you was your “real” fa­ther. Un­der­stand that it is pos­si­ble that he knew you were not his bi­o­log­i­cal child, where­upon he would

have made the choice count­less par­ents have made through time — to claim you and to love you. It’s re­ally pretty sim­ple.

DNA re­sults may an­swer some ques­tions you didn’t even know you had re­gard­ing your hair colour or health his­tory. But don’t let a DNA test kit tell you who you are and who your fam­ily is. YOU get to de­cide that.

I’m go­ing to re­peat the wis­dom of DNA ex­pert Richard Hill, whom I in­ter­viewed re­cently: “Know­ing the truth is better in the long run. Events that hap­pened decades ago are merely his­tory and not scan­dal (es­pe­cially true when the par­ents are de­ceased). No mat­ter what any­one thinks of the ac­tions of the par­ents, the sib­lings have done noth­ing wrong.”

I urge you to own this, claim it and dis­close it if you want to. I think it would help you to talk about it, and I hope you will.

Dear Amy: My nephew and his fi­ancee are plan­ning their wedding. We all live in the Mid­west, and their wedding and re­cep­tion is go­ing to be in the South­west.

Be­cause of the cost of air­fare to get there, and the cost of the room dur­ing our stay, should that af­fect my cash gift? — STUMPED IN CHICAGO Dear Stumped: You should not feel ob­li­gated to give a cash gift. Some very mean­ing­ful gifts (such as fam­ily heir­looms) are those that don’t cost a lot of money.

But no, the cost of at­tend­ing the wedding should not be de­ducted from what­ever gift you plan to give.

If at­tend­ing this cel­e­bra­tion would place too heavy a bur­den on your fi­nances, or if spend­ing this money would cre­ate a re­sent­ful emo­tional load for you to carry, then you should send your re­grets.

Dear Amy: I strongly dis­agree with your ad­vice that “An­guished Mother” should al­low her adopted 11-year-old son to have DNA test­ing to ex­plore his eth­nic his­tory.

This mom seems to know that at least one of his birth­par­ents is Cuban. This is an op­por­tu­nity for her to help her son ex­plore his Cuban roots, with­out the in­tru­sion and pri­vacy risks that come with DNA test­ing. — CON­CERNED

Dear Con­cerned: Very good ad­vice. Given the ex­treme con­cerns this mother had about her son’s birth fam­ily con­tact­ing them, re­search­ing his broader eth­nic an­ces­try along with him would be the best place to start.

Dear Amy: “Care­giver” re­cently wrote to you re­gard­ing an el­derly man with de­men­tia and his grand­daugh­ter that moved in and “snug­gles” with him in his bed ev­ery night.

Your ad­vice was that she “must re­port this” to her su­per­vi­sor and/or adult pro­tec­tive ser­vices and to “do the right thing.”

I was so ap­palled read­ing that ad­vice. You, nor the care­giver, know what their re­la­tion­ship was like in the past, es­pe­cially be­fore the de­men­tia. From the grand­daugh­ter’s per­spec­tive, she is los­ing a part of her grand­fa­ther. It may just be her way of show­ing love to­ward him and she’s ob­vi­ously not try­ing to hide her be­hav­iour.

It sounds as though the care­giver feels threat­ened by the grand­daugh­ter’s pres­ence and a loss of con­trol. If the care­giver is truly con­cerned about this be­hav­iour, she should con­tact the son or daugh­ter of this man who prob­a­bly hired her.

This does not sound like elder abuse to me. — CON­CERNED RN

Dear Con­cerned: Others agree with you. How­ever, I felt the tone of the ques­tion from “Care­giver” was rea­son­able, ra­tio­nal and based on pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence. When a pro­fes­sional (who un­der­stands de­men­tia) ex­presses con­cern, then yes, I be­lieve she is com­pelled to do some­thing about it, but I value your take.

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