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DNA ethical dilema

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DNA ethical dilema

Postby sandyscott21 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:01 pm

Hi

DNA testing has thrown up a real curve ball in our family...my mothers paternity is now in question. This isn't a complete surprise as my nana was a black sheep in the family, and in fact there is the name of an old flame that came to both my Mothers mind, and her Uncles' mind when we discovered her Dad wasn't her Dad.

I have just had one of those hectic weekends of searching leads - using a combination of ancestry trees, myheritage trees, findmypast, NSW BDM, Trove and finally....facebook, I think we have solved it. He seems to have passed away many years ago, but I may actually have found my mothers half sisters. There is an age gap, but it still seems to match. There was no clear resemblance, but its only one profile photos. I plan on going over the data again in the next few days, and revisiting DNA connections as well.

But has anyone any tips on how to approach living relatives who likely have no idea they have a half sister? and what if I am completely wrong and cause great embarrassment to all? The only real way to know is if one of them do the DNA test. And their mum is still alive, and so even though their dad didn't have an affair, is it fair on their mum to hear about her husbands love affair with a married woman?

help??
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Re: DNA ethical dilema

Postby MoVidger » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:02 pm

Within my family, there is a similar situation. However, my relative was born a year before her father married another woman and started a family with her. As she grew-up, my relative was aware she had half-siblings and was eager to make contact. This was firmly prevented by her mum and absentee father (for obvious reasons).

Fast forward to when my relative is very elderly. Happenstance provided a half-sibling's name and contact details. When the half-sibling finally returned my relative's call, it was an extremely uncomfortable phone call. Not because of my relative's birth situation, but due to her half-siblings "petty snobbery". Sorry, there is no other way to describe it. For many years, they were aware of my relative, as well. But they had absolutely no interest in making contact.
During the phone call, my relative was treat with a lot of hostility and condescension by her half-sibling. Even to the point where she was told: "You have three living half-siblings (besides me) and they don't want to know either!" followed by "He was our father...not really yours". :o

So my advice is to tread very carefully. These kind of things can cause a lot of heartbreak for all concerned. It's a shame with my relative -- she passed away very suddenly five years ago. So even if her half-siblings had a change of heart, it's too late now.
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Re: DNA ethical dilema

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:21 am

Can I suggest that you need to be absolutely sure that the DNA is saying what you think it is? I have no real understanding of the process that needs to be gone through to establish paternity but I am concerned that some people are using genealogical tests in a way that they were never intended to be used. People, for instance, are worried over differences between siblings in their ethnicity estimates - estimates are, of course, just estimates.

You may, of course, have already been through this multiple times with DNA experts, in which case I'll gladly shut up.

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Re: DNA ethical dilema

Postby meekhcs » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:25 am

I may be misreading your post but the DNA test seems to rule out the believed Father and you now think you have found a half sister on Facebook purely through facial recognition, and that her Father is dead. This is all very tenuous. Whilst I understand your anxiety to solve the mystery you must be careful. As MoVidger says the Half sister and Family may not want to know. Following on from Adrian. What DNA test have you had and who was it done by. If you want to try and match with other people then you need to do either the y DNA for the male members of the Family or the Mtdna test for the Female members. Perhaps this other Family, or members of have undertaken DNA tests. As a next step I would feed your Mother's results into Ftdna Family Finder. If members of the other Familyhave tested and fed their results into the database then you should see some results. It is a long shot but I think you need to explore every avenue before making contact.



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Re: DNA ethical dilema

Postby MoVidger » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:21 pm

I strongly agree with Adrian and Sally. Also, consider the unprovoked grief that my relative was subjected to by her half-sibling(s). And these were 80-something women who already knew they shared the same father. Yet my relative was treat like the product of a tawdry affair --when she was actually born a year before her father settled down with someone else.
Before my relative died, she wished she had "let sleeping dogs lie" (even though she hadn't initiated the actual contact with her half-sibling). So unless there is an important medical genetics reason to prove who your Mum's father was, I would let sleeping dogs lie.
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Re: DNA ethical dilema

Postby sandyscott21 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:33 pm

MoVidger wrote:Within my family, there is a similar situation. ... .... had a change of heart, it's too late now.


Hi MoVidger,

Thank you for the reply and practical experience. It is sad to hear that it turned out that way for your relative. In years passed and depending on a persons background, these issues are very sensitive indeed and not something you can tell from the internet. I have faced similar issues with suicide and illegitimacy on other branches of the family - but never quite so 'close to home'.

It is exactly the experience we are wanting to prevent, hence the hesitation to contact them. To be honest, it was random chance that we found out the paternity 'issue'. We have a tight family group and Mum's family don't care what the DNA says - she is still their sister/niece.....it's not like some on the various TV shows who need closure to fill a void or loss in their life. We also don't want to upset the other family too who are more than likely blissfully unaware.

A lot to think about...
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Re: DNA ethical dilema

Postby sandyscott21 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:14 pm

AdrianB38 wrote:Can I suggest that you need to be absolutely sure ...... DNA experts, in which case I'll gladly shut up.

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meekhcs wrote:I may be misreading your post .... It is a long shot but I think you need to explore every avenue before making contact.

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Hi Adrian,

Yes - good questions/thoughts too.

My Mum tested some years ago now and then later her brother tested as well. He only tested through a random set of circumstances (long story) and so we almost never knew there was even an 'issue'.

When the surprising results came through, Mum contacted familyfinder to see if there was an error etc. Familyfinder were very helpful and suggested that Mum test another male relative on her dad's side (both of her parents passed away many years ago) in the rare event her and her brother didn't share enough DNA for a full match. However these results showed no relation at all to her 'father's' family. She has now also tested with Ancestry to increase the chances of finding a relative.

In the DNA matches, a rather distinctive surname came up in some of the DNA matches. This is the same distinctive surname as a long term boyfriend of my Nanna's and a name the family knew well and everyone's first thought when the DNA 'issue' came up ...even before we looked at DNA name matches.

I have been in contact with a DNA match (distant cousins) with this same unusual surname. They gave me the name of a possible common ancestor (who is known to be the branch that lived in Australia) and I then started to follow as many of the descendants of this ancestor from the 1800's down several generations, to try and find connections between my mum and the various DNA matches she has with this surname. This method was suggested to us by an expert at the recent WDYTYA:live event.

But in doing the trail I discovered the very name of my Nanna's 'boyfriend' - and the dates line up too! He has also passed away now, but from his gravestone transcription on Findmypast I found his childrens names (again quite distinctive names) and a quick search found them in social media......

All the evidence points at this man. The only real way of knowing for certain is a DNA test of his children. But like you say, do we really need to know? Upset the apple cart? If it is simply so we can 'graft a branch' back on the tree then is it worth the pain?

At this point in time I am inclined to keep expanding that tree and confirming other DNA links to this family line first. Maybe in the future the time will seem right to contact them. Maybe one of them will test and get quite the shock!? In the meantime, those sleeping dogs look nice a cosy and I don't think I feel brave enough to disturb them ;)

Thank you all for being a sounding board too - much appreciated.
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Re: DNA ethical dilema

Postby Sucher » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:27 am

This will not solve your ethical issue but....... I have subscribed for some years to the lostcousins.com newsletter, it comes out about twice a month and is usually jam-packed with information, hints, offers, etc. The latest issue was released today, the previous one contained a 'Dummies Guide to DNA', so may be of use in determining the efficacy of the tests you describe. The newsletter is FREE, annual membership of the site is £10, this gives researchers the facility to enter ancestors from the 1881 census and hopefully get matches from cousins who have entered the same people. This is effective since one has to append the GRO record number, virtually eliminating mis-matches.

All very ethical and straight forward and I'm sure that the DNA testing advice is spot on.

S
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