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Ask Amy: DNA disclosure disrupts extended family

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: A couple of years ago there was a divorce in my extended family.

After the split, my ex-uncle (my aunt’s former husband) discovered that my aunt was fathered not by my grandfather, but by another man (this was unearthed through a DNA genealogy site).

He told my aunt. My understanding is that she reacted with extreme anger, and told him never to repeat the information. My ex-uncle has not told any of their children.

Unable to carry the burden, he let it slip and now I am in (arguably, wrongly) possession of this information. I’m looking for ethical guidance.

My mother now knows that her sister is in fact her half-sister, but she has not told her sister that she knows this. My mother has other siblings as well, and we have reason to believe that one of them is also likely fathered by this other man.

I have cousins who are unaware that they are not genetically related to our grandfather.

 

I feel I am not rightfully in possession of this information. I believe that my aunt should inform her children, as well as the other sibling.

It seems that people have a right to know who they are related to, especially considering potential health issues, etc.

Is it appropriate for me to just sit on this family secret?

— In a Tough Spot

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