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received some shocking news

(40 Posts)
crystalglasses Tue 26-Jul-11 00:34:13

I've been contacted by someone who says he believes he's the illegitimate son of my dh's mother. My dh had absolutely no inkling that his dm had another child and she's dead (and so are all her contemporaries) so can't ask her. The so-called illegitimate son was born just after the war and has a birth certificate gives the same name and occupation as that of my dh's mother but there's no other proof.
We are in a state of shock and I don't think my dh really wants to know any more about it. If the guy is his half brother it's sad that he is being rejected by my dh but completely understandable, i think. I feel so sorry for them both but my dh said that he wouldn't beleive it unless there was DNA evidence, but that he doesn't want to enter into that. I know there's nothing any mmsnetters can do but I'm just offloading as I feel burdened with it all.

KristinaM Tue 26-Jul-11 07:26:59

Im sorry, this is a hard situation for everyome involved

Surely this mans birth certificate has an address and a DOB for teh mother? If all of these match its hard to believe that its nit the right person. It seems to me that yoir husband insisting on DNA evidence but refusing to have tests done is just his way of denyimg everything

Do you know why your dh is so shocked? He must be in his 50s or 60s? Surely he understands that it was almost impossibe for a single gilr to keep a baby in the 1940s, if there was no family support? An it was completely normal is those days to keep things like that secret, it was thought to be in everyones best interest.

Perhaps your husband just needs a little time to come to terms with this. I think it woudl be quite hard hearted of him to reject his brother completely. Aftre all , his brother has presumably spent 60 years not knowing anythimg about his birth family. Your Dh has soem ofc the information his brother needs but wont give it to him? Thats a bit unfair IMO

Sorry you are caught in the middle of all this

crystalglasses Tue 26-Jul-11 08:29:22

The birth certificate only has the name and occupation of the mother, an unfamiliar address (now long gone) and the address of a long gone mother and baby home. No age or other details about her at all. The only coincidence is that the surnames are the same (and the surname is fairly unusual).
The reason my dh is shocked about it is that the whole thing is a bolt from the blue, not because of the illegitimate birth. Plus, the person contacted me, not him, so it's probably a bit surreal as he hasn't even had any contact with the other guy.

mycatsaysach Tue 26-Jul-11 08:46:42

these things are generally a bolt from the blue though aren't they.hope you can work things out.

not that unusual though - in our family a few years back it was discovered my maternal grandfather had a baby with someone before the war albeit in a foreign country.
i would have liked to get in touch but it was not the right time really for my mum and her siblings.
also a friend of mine lost both her parents and then found that she had a different father - she had no one who could confirm this either.it would have been v difficult for her to get absolute proof.

hester Tue 26-Jul-11 09:22:04

It must be a shock, but I'm slightly surprised that you seem to be questioning whether it's likely to be true - or am I misreading your posts? It is of course possible that this guy is making it all up, but highly unlikely, isn't it? Unless your dh is Bill Gates?

It is of course your dh's call how he handles this. If I was his dp, I would be taking the view that he cannot just wish it away - it is a new reality that he will have to adjust to - and that my job would be to help him find the best way for him to do so. It may well take time for him to get his head round this, but it's a bit pointless to pretend it hasn't happened, or to question this guy's veracity.

In time, it would be great if your dh could move to a place of generosity and welcome to his brother. But in the meantime, it would be better if he focused on why this is so distressing for him, rather than wasting time and mental energy fretting about whether it is true.

I'm sorry if I'm sounding a bit unsympathetic. I'm not, genuinely. But I suppose I do feel intensely sorry for this poor man, who must feel as though his birth family is rejecting him all over again. Whatever your dh decides to do, do treat him with kindness won't you?

crystalglasses Tue 26-Jul-11 09:53:35

I'm in two minds over whether or not it's true. This person knew the name of his mother and her occupation and searched round on the internet to find someone with the same name and occupation. Those are the only similarities. I don't know if there are other people out there with the same name and occupation and if so, whether he has also contaqcted them. I agree that he should be treated with kindness, which i have done. He must desperately want it to be true, just as my dh probably would rather it not be. My dh isn't fretting about it at all, he is just naturally cautious.

Hester - Unless this has happened to you I don't think it would be possible to anderstand.

hester Tue 26-Jul-11 10:06:36

I'm sure that's right, crystalglasses. It hasn't happened to me, but it has happened to my mother and to other people in my family. But I absolutely agree that it is easy to think you know how you would react, and judge others accordingly, and I'm trying not to do that.

I also hadn't quite appreciated how he had found your dh, and agree that there is a bit more of a margin of error than I had at first appreciated.

I think my central point still stands, though, which is that your dh is in shock, and needs time to process this, and that it would be unhelpful (in all sorts of ways) to just try to put the genie back in the bottle, to deny the possibility that this is true. Far better for him to send a courteous message back that he needs time, that he will respond as and when he can. And then to take that time to work out what this means for him, what it is he finds distressing and scary about this new information, and how he wants to take it forward.

Best of luck.

KristinaM Tue 26-Jul-11 14:36:37

If this man was legally adopted in the uk thne he can access his adoption records. This will give a lot more detail, at least addresses and an age if not DOB. I suspect he alreday has this if he has his birth mothers name

Perhaps this would reassure this your husband that this man is who he says he is.I take this that you are concerned that this is a case of mistaken idetity, rather than some kind of fraud?

As Others have said, it woudl be good if your dh coudl find it inhis heart to be kind to this man. Even if he is not willimg to met him, perhaps he woudlld write and give soem family information and photographs of their mother? there is a middle ground between ignoring him and welcoming him into your family as a long lost brother

Your husband has ben fortujnate enough to grow up knowing all his biological family. I assume from his reaction thAt he was very close to his mother. This man has not known this and may have struggled all his life with issues of rejection. .please encourage your dh to think carefully befroe slamming the door in his face

crystalglasses Tue 26-Jul-11 15:24:08

I don't honestly think it's a case of slamming the door in his face, more about coming to terms with the news, if it's true. The man says he hasn't got any information other than his shortened birth certificate and what he's found on the internet about someone (my dh's mother - who achieved a small level of fame many years ago) with the same name and occupation, which he's emailed me. My dh hasn't ignored him, it's just that the man contacted me by email rather than my dh. The man is perfectly nice and is going to see if he can find some more proof, and if he does, I'm sure my dh will accept him as a half brother. If it's true, what's sad for the man is that he thought my dh's family would have known all about him but in fact my dh's mother never mentioned him at all and must have covered her tracks very carefully.
I'm really not sure if he has the right person and he has said that he isn't 100% either but I've certainly thought of sending him some photos and a bit about her life anyway, but I can't ask my dh to do that just yet.

It would have been better if this had been done through an intermediary because it's sensitive for both sides and there are others in my dh's family to consider.

lettinggo Wed 27-Jul-11 10:56:07

I can understand your DH being shocked and I suppose this is why the man contacted you and not your DH directly.

If he is your DH's half-brother, then both of them need to know this and they can decide from there where, if anywhere, their relationship goes. From the sound of what you write, your DH is an only child and this may end up being something positive for him.

If he is not your DH's brother, then again they need to know this, especially this man who is obviously searching for his birth family to bring some closure to his life.

Your DH needs to get his head out of the sand and find out the truth one way or the other. It's happened now, someone thinks he's his brother and until they know one way or the other it will eat at both of them.

crystalglasses Wed 27-Jul-11 12:17:39

Thanks Lettinggo, I think you've hit the nail on the head. I think one of my dh's main concerns is that, if true, his mother clearly didn't want anyone to know and so amongst it all he feels some (maybe misplaced) loyalty to his mother's memory.

KristinaM Wed 27-Jul-11 12:33:53

I woudl guess that his mother didnt tell anyone because thats what she was told was for teh best. There was a stigma for both the unwed mother and the illegitimate child. Thats why it was all hushed up and she was sent away to a mother and baby home.

The babies were placed for adoption secretly. The mothers were sent home and told to forget it, get on withtheir llives, make a respectabel marraige and have more children. And it sounds like your MIL did as she was told. Im assuming she was just a gilr or a young woman and she was just obeying her parenst.

Its impossibel to knwo what she woudl have done now in the 21st century. Mmost women nowadays keep their babies. Its thankfully no longer a shameful secret. So you cant say for certain that your MIl woudl still want it to be secret now. For all you know she woudl be really happy to know that her olddest child was alive amd well and that he has some contcat with his biological family

I cant belive that any woman forgets one of children. It must have been so hard for her to take their painful memory to teh grave with her, never knowing if her son was alive or dead. She didnt have teh choice to search for him you see sad.

hester Wed 27-Jul-11 12:38:32

Kristina, are you typing while jogging? grin

hester Wed 27-Jul-11 12:40:12

For all we know, it may have been a dream come true for dh's mother that her two sons get reunited.

We can't know, and dh needs to focus on the present and future, not feel that he is somehow carrying a standard forward for his mum.

Divawithattitude Wed 27-Jul-11 18:13:52

Adoption records may give additional information, for instance where the person was adopted and the name of the people who adopted him. There is a good chance these records will still exist, that may be a route to follow to see if t his may be true.

lalalonglegs Wed 27-Jul-11 18:22:27

I agree with hester and others who say that your husband has to adjust to the idea and work on the assumption that it probably is true (and I write as someone who had a very similar situation in my family). It isn't really about what his mother would have wanted, it's about respecting the fact that this man has a right to know something about his origins and helping him find some closure.

limitlessclutter Wed 27-Jul-11 18:31:57

This man who has approached your family must be treated with compassion, but I think your husband deserves a lot of sympathy too, in this situation. To find out a 'secret' like this as an adult really shakes you to the core. It effectively rewrites your childhood and can deeply affect your feelings about your parents, especially when they are no longer alive, so there is no chance of discussion. I might take your husband a good while to come to terms with these feelings.

NoelEdmundshair Sat 30-Jul-11 09:38:24

Your DH is under no obligation to this man whether they turn out to be related or not. He's an adult and can make up his own mind.

KristinaM Sun 31-Jul-11 19:39:55

well of course, noel, the adoption order effectively ended any LEGAL relationship between them. whether or not there is any moral obligation is a different matter. This may be his half or full brother biologically.

I dont think the Op is looking for legal advice, she came here to talk about it and get other peoples perspective as she is troubled and perhaps a little overwhelmed by the situation. Im assuming that her Dh wants it kept confidential so perhaps she cant talk to anyone in RL. Yes of course its her Dhs decision but it will impact of the lives of many other people, including the Op and their children ( if they have any).

KristinaM Sun 31-Jul-11 19:43:15

and given that the Op may well have adult children, do THEY, as adults, have the right to make up their own minds if they want to meet their uncle or cousins? The other man may have adult children or even grandchildren, what are their rights in this? what about their right to a family medical history? etc

see, its not straightforward at all...................

NoelEdmundshair Sun 31-Jul-11 19:45:26

I've given her my perspective, Kristina. Which is that if OP's DH does not want any contact with his brother then he should not feel obliged morally or otherwise. They didn't grow up together, there is no psychological bond unless they both wish to create one.

KristinaM Sun 31-Jul-11 20:08:32

i appreciate that its your perspective and its indeed as valid as anyone elses

but unless you know the Ops Dh and his putative brother, Im not sure that you can say anything about any psychological bond. there is a lot of research on adoption reunions and its not as simple as you suggest

hester Sun 31-Jul-11 22:57:44

Well, if only life was that simple, NoelEdmunds.

crystalglasses Sun 31-Jul-11 23:16:48

KristinaM, yes you are right, I really wanted to talk to someone but not able to in rl. I'm leaving it with my dh to decide what to do next.It's taking a while to sink in and he has said that it has shaken the whole foundation of his life. He spoke a bit about it today but it's really not as simple as it might seem to some people and there are bound to be serious repercussions when and if the rest of the family know. He does have siblings, one with a serious mental health problem, who would find the news very difficult to cope with and another who would also be extremely upset. In fact my dh is the person most able to cope with this news.

I have asked advice from a social worker in the adoption department of social services. She has said that it is important that my dh is pressurised to do anything he doesn't want to and to be very careful if we decide to meet this person as we don't really know his background and although it may go very well, he may have all sorts of unresolved issues and demands including anger and mental health issues. Also that at the time he was adopted there would have been no records kept about the circumstances of the adoption unless he was conceived as a result of incest or rape, in which case there may be police reports on file.

There is really very little to go on at the moment (when I said in my previous post the my dh's mother had some small fame, this was nothing to do with what was on the adoption certificate, so he would not have connected it at all to the occupation listed). What I meant was that if he had googled her name he would have found a news item about her.

In the last email correspondence I had with the person he said he would employ a specialist researcher to see if he could find a definite link between himself and my dh's mother and that he would contact me in a few weeks time with whatever had been found - so we are going to leave it there.

I know some of the mumsnetters here are not very sympathetic to my dh's reaction, and have 'taken sides' with the adopted person. I wasn't asking anyone to take sides and maybe this is the wrong forum to unburden myself to.

crystalglasses Sun 31-Jul-11 23:19:14

sorry - I meant to say 'not pressurised'

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