Thursday, May 24, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Contacting half-sibling will require tact

Q: My father passed away very suddenly several weeks ago. Though he had to cope with being a single dad my entire life — my mom died when I was a baby — he was the best dad any guy could ask for. He had a lot of relationships with women over the years but never remarried.

I was in my hometown clearing out my dad's things when I stumbled upon evidence that the woman he was seeing 25 years ago, when I was in high school, got pregnant and left town, apparently to avoid gossip and to give the child up for adoption. I was absolutely floored. My dad never told me any of this. I do remember this woman, though.

I'm a police officer, and I did some sleuthing to locate her. I found out she died three years ago, having never married but leaving behind a daughter who I believe has to be my half-sister! My sister and I both live less than two hours from each other.

I want to reach out to her through social media and try to arrange a meeting, but my girlfriend thinks I should let sleeping dogs lie. I have no idea what her mom told her about her father, but I strongly believe she has a right to know about him — and me. However, I have absolutely no wish to upset her or her life.

Any advice for me?

Want to Meet My Sister

A: The main problem in a situation like this is that you're the one with the information, but she's the one entitled to decide whether she wants this information, much less what she'll do with it. You can't know what your maybe-sister (let's call her "Missy") would want, but Missy can't decide what she wants without your deciding for her that she'd want to know. It's a catch-22.

So, reach out, but not to arrange a meeting. Mention the evidence you stumbled across, say you'd like to find out if you and she are related, and provide your contact information in case she's willing to talk to you. Say you will understand and accept it if she doesn't. No pressure.

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