Found bio family. Next steps?

+6 votes
131 views
Through DNA testing I found my (deceased) mother's bio family. My DNA relative (1C1R) has been wonderful and very interested in the connection and has shared a lot of information. Unfortunately his uncle (my mother's brother) remains unaware that he had an older sister who was adopted out and had a family of her own.

My DNA relative is into genealogy and had previously asked his uncle (my mother's bio brother) if he would be willing to do a DNA test, and he declined. This implies he didn't want to find out any secrets. Fair enough.

So, we are stymied. My new "uncle" has adult children who would be my first cousins. They aren't aware of us, but we are aware of them.

We're just leaving things alone, since we don't want to disrupt any family dynamics. It's just not that important. I just worry that my "new" cousins might actually be interested in finding out about us, but that would mean they would have to have a secret from their father.  

Any advice?
in The Tree House by Nancy Reid G2G3 (3.8k points)

3 Answers

+8 votes
I am not a counsellor and I feel that you can only go with your heart.  I found cousins I never knew existed and there is no real issues, we accepted them.
  I do believe that the truth will set you free.  Maybe your uncle has feelings of guilt.  I personally would make it known to your cousins and let them make the decision about talking to the uncle.  It might be they will say not to tell him due to health issues.
  I advise NOT to judge anyone but do and say what you need with love and kindness. It may have been a difficult decision  made in the past. Be prepared for other  discoveries and remember that as humans we do err but as humans we all respond to kindness and love.
by Rionne Brooks G2G6 Mach 5 (55.9k points)
Wonderful answer!

I would add that there's no reason the new cousins should be penalized by one other person's wishes.  Plus, it's not clear he doesn't want to know, because there are other reasons people don't want to do a DNA test.  He may actually want to know something this big, but not want DNA testing.
Thank you for you input Rionne. Some sage advice there.

The only reason I know the names of my cousins in because my DNA relative gave them to me. I told him that I would look to his lead regarding telling the family since he knew them, and I didn't. I figured he would have a good idea how well it would be accepted by his cousin (my uncle). I feel like I would be betraying him if I went to the cousins. I don't know. Of course I've shared all of my family info with him as he is very interested himself.
Rob, that's kind of how I feel. There was nothing terrible about the situation. My mother's parents had my mother out of wedlock, but got married not long after she was born. It's not surprising that they gave her up for adoption as that was common for out of wedlock births back then. And it was during the depression to boot.

I don't know for sure that my mother's brother doesn't know he had an older surviving sister. He told my DNA relative that he had an older sister but that she died at birth. So did his parents tell him that (very likely) or did they ultimately let him know that they had given her up for adoption? (less likely)
+2 votes
One way to handle it is for the cousins to bring up a what if scenario. Such as what would you do if you found out you had a sibling you didn't know about and DNA could find that sibling or cousin or whatever? Let the uncle answer you'll know where he stands then! It's not like you'd have any rights to any estate it just that you found the real tree from which you should fall. As an adoptee I have met my whole bio family well I guess almost 30 years ago now so I just call them family. They're not unlike any other family with a little bit of dysfunction here and there lots of love here and there and a whole lot of aha moments for everybody.
by Tanya Lowry G2G6 Mach 1 (11.8k points)
Who are you suggesting bring up the topic with the cousins? My DNA relative? (i.e. their uncle who now knows)  I guess I could propose that to him.

I can't propose it to the cousins as they don't know I exist.

My siblings and I are easy-going and friendly. There would be no weird vibes from our end, as we just think it's cool that we have newly-found relatives and would be happy to get in touch with them only to the extent that they want to.
Whoever knows about you needs to bring it up as a what if scenario. The bottom line is often people will project their own fears onto things. They may very well know you're out there somewhere but back in the day just didn't talk about it and now we do. You have to remember you get your laid-back easy-going attitude from somewhere! Just go for it, always lots of love to go around. Just encourage them to go for it and share your existence if it becomes a big no then you deal with that if they say yes yay you!

Thanks for the encouragement Tanya! I'm feeling bolder now. laugh

<3  enjoy the adventure!
+1 vote
I have a follow on question. I didn't know whether to post it here or start a new thread.

Now that we know who/how we tie into my mom's bio tree, I would love to link my ancestry tree to that new branch of the tree, in order to find out other connections in my research. To do that though, that relationship (i.e. that my mother's parents had an additional child) would be out there in the public domain. Of course, only those interested in genealogy would find it.

What do you think? Is this o.k. even if only a couple of people from that branch (my DNA relative and one of his brothers) know of the connection?
by Nancy Reid G2G3 (3.8k points)

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