Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

WWYD- sudden contact from estranged family?

(22 Posts)
PaxoStuffing Thu 07-Apr-16 12:28:58

Sorry for the long thread but I want to give some background.

My dad died when I was 12. I'm 30 now. He had two kids from a previous relationship who are about 15 years older than me. My dad's family (sisters) had always been quite horrible to my mum apparently and I knew from very young that my mum didn't like them. His other kids (so my two half sisters) and my mum didn't particularly get on, they were civil but my mum kept out because they had their own mum/family etc.

Straight after my dad died my dad's sisters and kids were sporadically in touch with my mum but it all tailed off after a few months and I haven't seen or spoke to any of my dad's family in 17/18 years.

Last week I got an email (my email address is online because of work) from one of my half sisters husbands basically asking if I was 'the' Jane Smith - not my real name. Basically it asked if I was from Derby (not my real birth place), if my dad was called Trevor (not my dad's real name) and a couple of other things to ascertain if I was that person. There was no real pleasantries or hint at why he was emailing.

I don't know whether or how to reply. On the one hand, I'm curious as to why he's in touch. But, on the other hand, I'm concerned about what suddenly prompted the contact and whether there's a risk I'll be dragged into something I don't want to be a part of- DH said 'what if someone wants a kidney?'. I don't particularly feel any need or desire to be in touch with my dad's family but it feels 'icky' to just ignore the email.

What would you do if this happened to you?

CodyKing Thu 07-Apr-16 12:31:42

Well they may just be curious -

Is send an email - yes sounds like me - what can I help you with?

You owe them nothing!

WellErrr Thu 07-Apr-16 12:33:48

Yes, just ask what it's about.

You can always cut contact again.

SisterMoonshine Thu 07-Apr-16 12:35:47

I'm not sure I'd respond to a contact like that. Not an actual relative and no pleasantries at all? I'd think twice about responding to a more sincere contact from an actual half sister, but this husband thing - I don't really like.
If something has happened to his wife I would have thought he would have said. Or at least said something about why he's contacting you.

PaxoStuffing Thu 07-Apr-16 12:40:28

Cody and Well I don't feel comfortable really emailing back to say something like 'can I help you' because it sounds standoffish and quite rude. If I'm going to respond, I'd be friendly. I think either respond with 'How are you, nice to hear from you, how are the kids?' or just don't respond

Sister That's what I found weird, the tone was odd. He sent two emails one with 'Hello Jane' at least followed by a couple of Qs, then one about 10 minutes later just saying 'Did you live in High Street?' No pleasantries or hints at why he'd contacted. And why from him rather than her?

RunRabbitRunRabbit Thu 07-Apr-16 12:52:27

How do you know that the person who emailed is the husband of one of your half sisters?

Goingtobeawesome Thu 07-Apr-16 12:55:19

Is it nice to hear from him? Do you want to have a relationship with them?mif so, why haven't you looked for them?

I'd be cautious.

OurBlanche Thu 07-Apr-16 12:59:28

If it is a husband then he is probably trying not to sound all 'family' and huggy, in case that scres you off too. Or he thinks is is pm'ing you on facebook smile

There probably isn't one good way of making that sort of contact.

What you have to decide, Paxo, is do you want to make any kind of contact? Do you care at all why they are trying to contact you? If yes then a neutral response would be good: Hello! That could indeed be me! Why are you trying to contact Jane Smith wholived in the High Street, had a dad called Trevor, etc?

If not then don't answer or be brusque. Please cease trying to contact me.

TondelayaDellaVentamiglia Thu 07-Apr-16 13:08:42

i don't think there is anythign rude in cody's reply

it's neutral and places the ball back in their court. Personally I'd be frizzling up with curiosity as to why the email out of the blue.

I'd say keeping in contact some 15-20 years ago was a good deal more difficult and it's very easy to drift away and lose contact without any malice aside from your mother not getting on with them

With my detective head on I'd imagine someone further up the family has died or developed a conscience about the "lost branch" of their family and the sister's husband has been tasked with rummaging about the WWW for connections.

I'd not hesitate to find out more, but I am a nosy besom.

PaxoStuffing Thu 07-Apr-16 13:09:04

Thanks all!

RunRabbit I know because I knew him when I was young so obviously know his name. He also attached a photo of him and his wife.

Goingtobe You make excellent points. No, it's not particularly nice to hear from him. I don't really give a shit. No I don't want a relationship.

Ourblache It did read like a FB message I guess. I'm not on FB. As above, no I don't particularly want contact. I think if he'd emailed giving more detail, asking how I am etc, then perhaps I'd be inclined to engage in conversation.

PaxoStuffing Thu 07-Apr-16 13:11:33

Tondelaya I am bristling with curiosity! I was wondering if someone has died but it's weird that it's him contacting me and not one of my actual half sisters. Definitely haven't done any Googling and stalking today

GlitteryFluff Thu 07-Apr-16 13:20:35

Re the coldness of the messages.
Maybe there's no pleasantries as he doesn't know if it is you? No point spiking out nice stuff incase it isn't you. If you replied with something saying it sounds like you, he could reply 'oh great, I thought it was, do you remember me? So nice to finally catch up with you, how have you been etc etc'

GlitteryFluff Thu 07-Apr-16 13:21:24

Spilling*

PaxoStuffing Thu 07-Apr-16 13:25:47

Glittery I do absolutely get why no pleasantries but I just think if I contacted someone after 18 years I'd be a bit friendlier. Even if I wanted to check it was them first! Like: 'Hi, is this you? Did you live here, do this etc? If so, I've got some news about someone. If not, so sorry for the random email'.

The tone is weird and TBH quite an important factor in why I don't want to reply.

zipzap Thu 07-Apr-16 13:46:09

I'm wondering if he hasn't been too friendly initially in case you're not you - well obviously you are you grin, but in case he'd reached a different Jane Smith and didn't want to be all friendly in case it was the wrong Jane Smith.

And if that is the case - then I can understand it. I'd reply, cautiously, and judge on the second message when he knows that he is talking to the right person. If they want to take it further you can still stay remote and distant and polite - if they ask you to visit say, you can just say thank you, but it's not a good time at the moment and I'm still getting my head around this, so I'll be in contact in the future when things have changed...

Also if it is bad news, he might not want to be all jolly and chatty if he then has to break bad news if you see what I mean. Have you googled their names to see if anything untoward comes up?

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 07-Apr-16 13:50:53

I would feel put off by the husband's contact on behalf of the half sister. This sort of triangulation just irritates me as a manipulation. On top of that, it is a little creepy to be told that people are stalking you on line and then be contacted even if it is family (perhaps especially if it is family).

On the other hand, that may be swamped by the curiosity of why, why now? (It would certainly make a good journal entry. wink <<mildly cynical )

It boils down to how you feel. Respect your feelings. If contact with them will emotionally trigger you into a negative way that may require a detox/recovery period...then it may be best to leave it. (It can be seen as a piece of bait.) If someone died and left you money, the probate attorney would be the one contacting you. wink <<very cynical

However, if contact could be seen as a "so what?" and could be easily dismissed then it may be ok to respond without expectation. Be civil and polite, at first, to see the lay of the land so to speak. You do not owe them anything and responding is not creating any sort of contract.

I would save the familiar chit-chat and gushing emotional reunion feelings and emotions (and certainly any agreements to help them out in any way) in reserve until you have a very certain understanding of their motives; and that may take longer to find out than a couple of technologically enabled contacts. Guard your trust.

Groovee Thu 07-Apr-16 14:01:26

I would probably reply "yes I am. Is there anything I can help you with?" And leave it at that.

PaxoStuffing Thu 07-Apr-16 15:37:19

Thanks for all your replies.

AndTheBand Yes, I did find it quite creepy like he's been googling me. I have to have professional stuff online but there's nothing personal online. I still don't like the thought of random people googling then getting in contact. Ugh.
I doubt it'd be inheritance. Definitely no wealthy relatives.

Guiltypleasures001 Thu 07-Apr-16 15:41:26

Hi op

I was thinking if he has contacted you on let's say a famous business link website, he may be being cautious with details in case it's not you, trying to protect some sort of confidentiality so to speak.

loveyoutothemoon Thu 07-Apr-16 15:54:36

Just reply, there's nothing to lose, I couldn't resist. What if something has happened, wouldn't you want to know?

PaxoStuffing Thu 07-Apr-16 17:03:56

guilty No it's not on that famous business link website. It's on my work website where all staff have a profile page. I agree he may be being cautious with details but even if I were emailing a stranger, I would still do some pleasantries!

loveyouto I don't know if I'd want to know. On the one hand, yes, potentially interesting. But on the other hand, these are people I haven't had any contact with for nearly 20 years. I don't know these people. I'm not sure it'd be any more interesting to me than news about a random woman two street over.

AmusingMinnie Thu 07-Apr-16 17:11:50

Maybe the lack of pleasantries is down to it being an email via your business profile page-he may wonder if your emails get screened?

I don't have contact with my bio dads family and haven't for 15+ years now but since facebook came out I've had messages now and again off cousins/aunts (unique surname so some wondered who I was within their family and others remembered me vaguely). I've always just replied back with a 'yes this is me, hope your well' kind of message, some people have engaged with conversations others haven't but I've always given them the chance to let me know if there is a reason they're getting in touch.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now