Re­u­nion with birth fam­ily goes awry

Orlando Sentinel - - OBITUARIES -

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 our other fam­ily mem­bers.

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 let­ter signed by all 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).

They said that given the cir­cum­stances, 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?

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 likely that knowl­edge of your 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.

We all come from some­where, and the truth is not al­ways pretty, but beauty is born when you ab­sorb and ac­cept the truth — and keep go­ing.

You have ev­ery rea­son to be up­set. I think you also have ev­ery rea­son to cel­e­brate your own re­silience, the joys of your com­bined fam­i­lies and your healthy quest for knowl­edge.

You should do some le­gal re­search of your own to see what your op­tions are, re­gard­ing forc­ing this is­sue — if you choose to.

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I have been blessed with the most lov­ing and car­ing daugh­ters-in-law.

Un­for­tu­nately, one of them has Type 1 di­a­betes.

She and our son were blessed with a baby girl a few months back. Although she was born pre­ma­turely, with the amaz­ing care that she re­ceived in NICU, she is healthy.

Go­ing through this preg­nancy and the years of her hav­ing di­a­betes has taken its toll. She now needs to have a kid­ney trans­plant.

Both my hus­band and I are or­gan donors, but we are not a match for her.

We all can’t pre­dict what the fu­ture holds. All of us will even­tu­ally die. But choos­ing to do­nate our or­gans when our time comes gives the gift of life to some­one else.

We hope that you will use your col­umn to help us ad­vo­cate for peo­ple to give the gift of life by choos­ing to be­come or­gan donors.

Dear Grate­ful: It is so easy to reg­is­ter to be­come an or­gan donor — ei­ther at the lo­cal Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles, or on­line at or­gan­ I’m reg­is­tered.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Kid­ney Foun­da­tion, more than 100,000 Amer­i­cans are on the wait­ing list to re­ceive a kid­ney.

For more on “liv­ing do­na­tion” of a kid­ney, go to kid­

Dear Amy: Re­gard­ing the ques­tion from “Newish Mom” about un­so­licited par­ent­ing ad­vice, I give more than my share of un­so­licited ad­vice — mostly about cars, ap­pli­ances, home re­pair and com­put­ers. When I do so, I re­mind peo­ple that it is worth ex­actly what they paid for it.

My take­away for a new par­ent is to do what works for you, your spouse and your child. If it works for you, then it’s right!

Dear Dad: Ex­actly.

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