Life Advice


Health & Spirit

DNA testing reveals 'new' family members

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I have a situation related to DNA testing.

I have a half-sister from an affair my father and her mother had many years ago (mid-'50s). I have known about this for several years, but I don't think she knows about it. She was raised in a highly respected family, and I'm fairly certain this information has been kept from her.

On my DNA page on the website, she appeared in the "number one" position as a sibling to me -- above first cousins, second cousins, etc. I don't know if she has even seen this specific page or not, so I don't know if she knows anything.

All of the parents are now dead.

This webpage allows me to send an online message to her. I am tempted, but I also think it could be best to let sleeping dogs lie. Family and friends give me mixed responses.

What makes sense to you?

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-- Debating DNA

Dear Debating: I shared your question with Richard Hill, who was one of the first adoptees to identify his birth family through genetic genealogy DNA tests (in 2007). He tells his story in the book, "Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA" (2017, Famillius). He has also written a guide: "Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors, Confirm Relationships, and Measure Ethnic Ancestry through DNA Testing." He shares his extensive knowledge on his website:

Hill says, "I have four half-siblings myself, and I have read about hundreds of similar discoveries, either in the news media or in private online discussion groups.

"While news of an unexpected relative can be shocking at first, many people are thrilled to discover siblings later in life. I have found that almost everyone involved will ultimately draw one or more of the following conclusions:


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