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Health & Spirit

A stranger's suggestion brings on DNA dilemma

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

What should I tell him? What should I do when strangers contact me saying that they are related to my son?

-- Anguished Mother

Dear Mother: You are the parent and you are in charge of this process, but I think you should consider letting your son get DNA testing, perhaps for his 12th birthday. I have many adopted family members and I can speak from experience that the curiosity about ethnicity is strong, and important. Even very young children can express this as part of their curiosity about their adoption. This is a crucial part of your son's identity, and his story.

This testing would be done through you, with your contact information and you should share any ethnic information that is revealed, and then help your son to answer any questions about his DNA heritage.

Given how marginal his biological family seems to be, they are not likely to be in the DNA database and wouldn't contact you, but you'll have to handle any contact on a case-by-case basis. Whatever DNA testing reveals about his ethnicity, you should help your son to explore his roots.

Dear Amy: I am bothered by a father-daughter interaction I observed at a recent extended family dinner.

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The father and his 13-year-old daughter sat apart from the rest of the relatives, who had gathered in the living room.

The daughter was often on the father's lap and they focused only on each other for most of the evening. The mother has little standing in the family; the father makes the decisions and often belittles the mother.

While I don't believe there is any sexual abuse going on, I do find the father/daughter dynamic inappropriate.

I would like your perspective on this.

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