Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Sister strives to keep her adoption secret

Carolyn Hax on

Hi, Carolyn:

I am in the middle of a growing crisis in my extended family because of revelations from a DNA match. After getting my results, I was contacted by a woman looking for her biological family. It quickly became apparent she was the child my sister gave up for adoption 52 years ago.

I made contact with this delightful woman and was amazed to find out she grew up a mile from our family home and knew many of my relatives.

My sister has never disclosed this birth to any of her other children or grandchildren. Her husband is aware, but they want nothing to do with the situation and would prefer no other family members get involved. They are in great fear of their children finding out this secret. So far none have.

Of course the cat is out of the bag and others have become aware. I feel guilty for being the one to bring this to light, but worry it is going to eventually divide our family. Any thoughts on how to handle this?

-- Surprise

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You didn't stir things up on purpose. Your getting the test was also the last thing you did over which you had full control.

Those are the two points I suggest you make to your sister upfront -- and in person, if possible -- when you apologize for knocking the lid off her secret. We apologize all the time for harm we cause innocently and by accident, and this is no exception.

The rest is up to her. I wish I could assure you that you'll come out of it all unscathed, but your sister is already several steps down the road of making this whole situation worse than it needs to be.

She is answering to her fear and trying to keep a secret when the laws of juicy news mean everyone will know eventually. As in, soon, if not already. Her only rational play is to take control of the story herself and start telling her kids.


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