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Health & Spirit

Home DNA test yields heartbreaking surprise

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My husband and I decided to do a DNA test for fun.

It turns out that my father and I don't share DNA.

I knew my mother had an affair back in the '50s, but I thought the affair was after I was born.

We had a relationship with the other family; the husband and his wife were very dysfunctional alcoholics and I went through school with their kids.

Turns out this man was my biological father.

Needless to say, it has rocked my world and has broken my heart.

My mother is 97 and it wouldn't surprise me if she doesn't know that my father wasn't my biological father. My parents seemed to have a solid marriage.

Amy, it's like I don't know who I am!

I would warn people about finding out about their DNA. I wish I hadn't explored mine.

Through this DNA test site, I was contacted by my biological niece. I also have a half-sister. Amy, she used to babysit me!

Also I keep thinking -- what if I had dated one of my own brothers?

I feel like I'm living in a soap opera.

What do you think about this?

-- DNA Regrets

Dear Regrets: The rise of at-home DNA testing seems to be transforming human relationships in a way that reminds me of some of the relational changes brought about by the rise of the internet.

I think it is important for people considering using a test kit to try to prepare themselves for -- or at least try to imagine -- a world-rocking shock, such as you have received.

In your case, I hope you will find someone to talk to about this. A professional counselor could offer you support and a fresh perspective.

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Dear Amy: Two days ago, a good friend of mine (and mother of three) told me in confidence that she has been having an affair with a colleague from work. She has asked me not to share this information with my husband, as he is a good friend of her husband's. I agreed to keep the secret.

I want to honor her request, but I am also torn, as I now feel I am keeping a secret from my husband, whom I would usually turn to for advice. I want to be loyal to my friend, but was her request unreasonable?

-- Confused

Dear Confused: Your friend's request was natural -- she was relieving herself of a secret by passing it along to you -- but it is also unreasonable.

When someone asks you, "Please, don't tell this to anyone," it is legitimate for you to respond, "I'm sorry, but I don't think I can do that."

Now that you have agreed to keep this confidence, you should try to keep it, however.

I would frame this less as "secret keeping" and more as this not really being your -- or your husband's -- business.

If you told your husband, aside from relieving yourself of this burden, what would be the purpose of your disclosure? This knowledge would force him to make the tough decision about whether to tell his friend that his wife is cheating on him. This inserts the two of you into the middle of their marriage.

If your friend decides that you are her special confidant concerning this affair and if she chooses to unburden herself further, it would be wisest for you to tell her, "I need you to know that knowing about this makes me very uncomfortable. I wish you weren't doing this at all, but at this point I don't want you to discuss it with me. I realize that your behavior has a huge impact on you and your family, but it has also put me in a very tough spot."

Dear Amy: Responding to the heartbreaking question from "Angry Father," whose grief over his wife's death was having a big impact on his relationship with his children.

Thank you for suggesting a grief support group. My daughter and I benefited from a series of "grief classes" offered through our local hospice.

They differ from support groups in that there is peer discussion, but emphasis is on teaching by grief specialist, processing one's grief and use of learning materials. I highly recommend starting with grief class before support group, especially when the grief is complicated.

-- PJ

Dear PJ: Hospice centers all over the country are helping to transform how we experience death, loss and grief. This is an excellent suggestion. Any interested reader should contact their local hospice or hospital.

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(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamy@amydickinson.com. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.)

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