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Seeking advice on behalf of my DH - long post

(18 Posts)
jambutty Fri 19-Jun-09 20:12:01

My DH has asked if I will put this on as he say he's seen over the years that I've been on MN that it's a place where people can be empathic and give sensitive advice on difficult issues(I namechanged a couple of months ago, but I've been on here since 2005).

DH has never known his dad. His mum,a very difficult woman, wouldn't tell him his name for years, but about four years ago, grudgingly, she did.
Since then he's wanted to look for his dad - knows the city he lives in and it would have been fairly easy - but he's always been worried about whether he'd be welcome or might just cause upset. He does some family tree work, and about three months ago used his skills to look for more information about his dad and found he'd died five years ago sad. He visited his grave and has been upset about it since.
So, that's the background. What he wants to know is - does he try to contact the two grown-up half sisters he now knows he has? He doesn't know why he wants to do this or whether he should, but he seems to have a feeling that he wants to know them. He is very sensitive - works in a caring profession - and wouldn't want to hurt anyone, but I think he's worried about not doing something as he did with his dad, and then it's too late. Anyone with experience of this sort of thing?

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Fri 19-Jun-09 20:15:47

I don't have experience in this but if it's eating him up this much then he should seek them out. It's important to know where we come from and it will be something that he thinks about alot.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 19-Jun-09 20:17:53

Another one with no experience, but could your DH approach his half-sisters by letter in the first instance, to give them the choice whether to eventually meet? It would give them time to get used to the idea - do they know about him?

AMumInScotland Fri 19-Jun-09 20:20:55

I think if it matters to him, he should contact them. But maybe he should get some advice about dealing with his feelings about all this first, so he understands what he's looking for and can cope with their reactions? I know there are people who talk through tese things with adoptees before they get their details, so that they have some chance to think about the issues and possible reactions from their birth family Not quite the same when it's only part of his family, but the principle is the same.

jambutty Fri 19-Jun-09 20:28:50

Thanks for this.
It's clear from the things he has found out that his dad was a much loved and very well liked person. As his half sisters are about seven years younger than my DH he is not sure that his sisters or their mum have any idea that their father had a child before they were born. He wouldn't want to cause anyone any harm or potentially ruin their memories.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Fri 19-Jun-09 20:32:31

sad He needs to do this for him though. A letter is a good way to start. Is there an aunt/uncle he could approach first to test the water? Maybe they will know about whether the rest of the family know about him.

slushy06 Fri 19-Jun-09 20:35:32

It didn't harm my step brother when his sister who he hadn't known about got in contact with him in fact he found it helped him deal with alot of problems and they are now like two peas and are really close. However would second the suggestion of a letter so as not to shock anyone. Hope it all works out for your dh.

ActingNormal Fri 19-Jun-09 20:39:39

This is a difficult one. I was adopted and can understand why he would feel a strong urge to contact blood relatives. I felt that if I never traced mine, my need to know what they were like and why they did what they did would always be there and I would feel a sense of unfinished business. I wanted to know where I came from as this feels like part of who you are and I felt that if I didn't know then I wouldn't fully know myself. I felt a 'gap' in myself from not having my birth parents and a sense of loss and I believe the urge to search for your birth parents is an instinctive thing you are born with.

I didn't like what I found but I dont' regret doing it because if I hadn't I would still always be wanting to know everything and could never 'rest' until I did.

I was also worried about causing upset in my birthparents' families but felt I had a right to trace them and they owed it to me to answer my questions, so I tried to do it in the most sensitive ways I could.

In your DH's case though, his father's daughters don't owe him anything. Does he know whether they would know about him? I can see how he would be worried about disrupting their lives and I can also see why he would want to contact them. They are a link to his roots and blood relatives he could potentially bond with and get a feeling of belonging which everyone wants to feel. Especially if his relationship with his mother was difficult and he doesn't really feel bonded with anyone from his original family. It makes you feel lost and alone. It is hard to weigh up the pros and cons!

He could feel even more rejected if it doesn't go the way he would want it to and he needs to know that this is a risk he would be taking. This is how it was for me. But even if this happens he may still get some answers from talking to them to questions he was longing to know the answers to. If they don't know about him and if it would make them think worse of their father and if they would find this difficult then your DH would feel bad about this. But maybe they would be upset if they knew that they had a half brother who they had never been told about and never had the opportunity to meet.

Sorry I haven't been able to give a view on what decision he should make and I hope I'm not being too unhelpful. I can only really talk about my own experiences in relation to this. I do feel for him with this dilemma.

jambutty Fri 19-Jun-09 20:49:31

Maybe an aunt/uncle would be a good idea. His dad had several brothers and sisters. I'm not sure what he wants from it really. I don't think he wants to have a relationship with them, but I do think he would like to find out more about his dads life, to see where he fits I suppose. His confusion comes from wondering how they will potentially react to have a stranger pop up and tell them they have a brother that no one ever mentioned. I think he's also worried that his mum might not have told him the whole truth either.

Doha Fri 19-Jun-09 20:51:25

Yes been there, done it and got the T-shirt.
Slightly different circunstances as l was adopted and had my original birth certificate. After a great deal of hesitation over many years l finally found the courage to try and trace her. I too discovered she had died fairly young 7 years earlier. I then discovered mmy half brother on genes reunited.

I approached my sister in law first, explaining who l was and that l was not intending to cause any trouble and asking
if they were aware of my existance.

To cut a long story short, we are now in regular contact, get on brilliantly and feel that l have known him all my life. We have the same mannerisms and personality.

For me l got to know my mother, saw photos and videos and also got to visit her grave.

I did not receive any counselling prior to this and in retrospect l wish l had. At one point l thought l was heading for a breakdown as so much information was too much to take in. I felt l was tip toeing around everybody trying to please and not upsetting anybody--l was terrified of rejection.

Happily 4 years on all is well and l also have a half sister that l am getting to know.

I would say to your DH -think carefully--if he can handle the possibility of rejection from these half sisters--he should proceed with caution. Let things progress slowly and dont rush things.

Good luck.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Fri 19-Jun-09 20:53:06

I think he just wants to know where he came from, everyone wants to know that they belong, their family history. It's notmal to want this. If he gets in touch with an aunt/uncle then he can see if this part of his family know about him without rocking the boat too much.

ActingNormal Fri 19-Jun-09 20:54:30

PS there is an organisation called Norcap which can give advice on this type of thing. They probably have a website. There is also a contact register which your DH's half sisters might be on if they do know about him. This is held by the Office of National Statistics who have a website and a section on this. If they know about your DH they could have put their names and contact details on the register so that if your DH ever contacts the ONS about the contact register they can give him their contact details.

ActingNormal Fri 19-Jun-09 20:58:47 if they are on the contact register your DH will know that they are happy to meet him

jambutty Fri 19-Jun-09 21:01:53

Thanks ActingNormal. I think that sense of a gap is exactly how he feels. His relationship with his mum is still poor and she went balistic when he told her he had visited his dads grave. I think in a way he is grieving for the loss of his dad but doesn't know how to make the connection.

Portofino Fri 19-Jun-09 21:04:07

I agree with amuminscotland, that maybe he should seek some advice first. I have been doing my family tree and was contacted by a cousin ( I think) of my mum. He was one of a number of illegitmate children "farmed" out for want of a better word, by his mother.

He had had some contact with other family members, and I told him everything I could tell him about the family, but ultimately, my grandmother, and the other older generation family members did not want to know (it was all embarrassing to them sad) so noone could give him the answers to the questions he had (when, why? etc).

Sadly, he got a bit pushy about wanting to come and stay with us, and see photos and all. DH was not at all happy about complete strangers coming to visit. I tried to let him down gently but haven't heard anything since. He was very sad about his upbringing.

Just a little caveat that sometimes you can be invited in with open arms, but sometimes not, and your DH needs to be mentally prepared for either eventuality....

jambutty Fri 19-Jun-09 21:16:49

Thanks, this has all been really helpful to DH - he's read your replies. Now maybe he understands why I am addicted to mumsnet occasionally post on here grin. I think he may try to get in touch with another family member first.

jambutty Fri 19-Jun-09 21:21:34

And thanks ActingNormal and Doha for sharing your stories.

Doha Fri 19-Jun-09 21:40:37

What l should have perhaps added was that neither my half brother or sister were aware of my existance.

It certainly took my brother a week to contact me as he had to get "his head round this" as he couldn't understand why l was kept such a big secret from him. This also left him questioning his relationship with his mother--questions which could never be answered.
I feel quilty about perhaps having tainted his oops our mothers memory for him.

However when we got together as a family (with my birth mothers brother and wife) and we all threw into the conversation what we new about the situation she found herself in--her action became quite understandabe.

I think what l am trying to say that it may come as a big shock to your DH's sisters and they have just as many questions as your DH. This could potetially be qute traumatic for them too.

I kept reassuring my "other family" as l call them that l didn't want anything from them except information--and didnt rush any lasting relatinship--it just grew.

Now l tell them that the only thing l may want from them in the future--should l need it---is a kidney for transplant. Joking of course grin

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