Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

A family secret threatens to implode

- Amy Dickinson Submit letters to askamy@ amydickins­ or to “Ask Amy” P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

Dear Amy: My wife’s brother died. A couple of weeks after the funeral, his daughter (our niece) received a letter from a half-brother she was unaware of. The letter was addressed to her deceased father, from a man (his biological son), who was trying to find informatio­n about him after the death of his own adoptive parents.

Our niece was not sure if we knew of his existence, as she nor her brother knew.

They also did not know if their mother (who had been married to their dad for 60 years) was aware, as their mom had not yet met their dad when this son was born.

When my wife was 15, she knew that her brother had impregnate­d his high school girlfriend.

This was in the early ’60s, and the girl’s parents decided to take her out of state for the pregnancy, and then place the child up for adoption.

My wife feels she is in a “no win” situation. If she lets it slip that she knew, and her sisterin-law did NOT, then her niece and nephew may be upset.

If she says nothing, and it gets out, then her sister-in-law would be upset for not telling her earlier. — Torn in Seattle

Dear Torn: The most obvious answer is this knowledge was not your wife’s to share. She was 15 years old when her brother fathered a child. I’m assuming her own family kept her in the dark, and that this child’s existence was treated as a family secret.

Yes, she should be honest about this, now. She may be the only person generation that knows the truth. She can say she had hoped/assumed that her brother would have disclosed this to at least his wife, and that it was absolutely his story — not hers — to tell.

Eventually they should understand her position.

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