Tell Me About It

I want to contact the brother I discovered in a DNA test – but it’s complicated

Tell Me About It: You must decide whether to tell your half-sister about contacting her twin

PROBLEM: I did an online DNA ancestry test, and when I got the results back – I was only looking for my roots – I found a high match which was a total surprise.

After realising it was with a half sibling, I was in contact with the lady. I researched before I contacted her on how to reach out and I debated whether to at all, because I did not know the scenario – maybe she was adopted. We were going back and forth with good conversation and seemed like we had some good laughs.

I learned that she was estranged from her mother. When she accepted that we could be half siblings she asked if I was her mother’s daughter and adopted. I said no, the test showed we are related on my father’s side.

Meanwhile, I found out she has a twin brother that looks just like my dad. Her son also looks a lot like my son, and she was shocked when she saw the resemblance between them.

She disappeared for a few days and talked to her husband, and I think it more came from him that they should not tell the family that her father was not her biological father.

I felt awful and felt like I was such a horrible person but after a bit of time realised I did not mean to hurt her and it was not my fault. I think of them often and pray for them.

My father passed away six years ago. He was between marriages when the twins were conceived, and I do not know the circumstances of how it happened. He was an alcoholic, so he probably wouldn’t have even known about them. In all accounts, it looks like the twins had a good life.

My half-sister lives within two hours from me and her twin brother lives in a nearby country. I am sure he knows nothing about me. Part of me thinks leave well enough alone as I don’t want to hurt someone else.

Another part of me thinks I would want to know, if I were him. They will be 50 next year and I will be 60. Maybe the secret can be kept forever, maybe someone else will do a DNA kit and ask who I am.

Is it wrong for me to contact this man? I never had a brother.

ADVICE: DNA and ancestry kits are now common gifts to give for birthdays and Christmas, but they should come with a warning that they may seriously disrupt your life – in both good and difficult ways.

You seem to have come to terms with the discovery of your half-siblings. Of course, you are entitled to contact your half-brother, but you will need to prepare yourself for further rejection should he be unable to handle the revelation. However, you did recover from your half-sister’s rejection and came to realise that you were not the cause of her upset and this experience will stand to you in the face or any possible future rejection.

It may well be that your father did not know of his parenthood, but this is knowledge you now have and at 60 years of age is of great significance. The first part of this is deciding if you are going to make contact with your half-brother and you can make this decision now as your half-sister may or may not make contact again.

The first step is to support yourself, tell close friends or your sisters what you are planning so that you can debrief with them afterwards. You are not looking for advice from them at this time – only support and it is good to be clear about this. Then you must consider the timing of the contact; for example, it might be better to make contact close to a weekend or a short holiday, so you are not facing into work immediately.

Then your next task is to decide if you will tell your half-sister of contacting her brother and if this should happen before, during or after the contact. If you tell her in advance, she may well try to stop you and again leave you feeling that you are the cause of hurt, but she probably has a right to know that her twin is being informed of his parenting. She may well be able to support her brother with this huge revelation or she may persuade him to act in the same way by cutting you off. You are not responsible for their responses, but you can take charge of how you make your contact.

Time might allow them to talk and come to terms with their heritage

You already know of the shock your news brings so be patient in your offering; for example, say you will give time to your siblings to absorb the news but that you will be in contact again as connecting with family is of huge value for you. Then you might contact them again at Christmas with some photos etc. Time might allow them to talk and come to terms with their heritage and, as long as you are not seeing a delay as rejection, you will be in a position to make occasional contact in the hope that an opportunity to meet will open up.