Author Topic: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling? FINAL (good) UPDATE #43  (Read 7412 times)

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Danika

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #30 on: May 18, 2011, 07:17:11 AM »
What a wild ride you've been on with all this new news!

I can understand why you're hurt by your brother not mentioning this half-sister to you. I don't know him, but I can't believe it slipped his mind. I think he didn't want to get your riled up, upset, or something like that.

I'm the kind of person who's always interested in meeting new relatives, and researching genealogy. I think I'm just a curious person. Or maybe it's that the relatives I do know and grew up with are very toxic and so I like to imagine that somewhere, in my ancestry, or distant cousins, there are nice, normal people.

For this reason, in your position, I'd want to contact the half-sister, too. If she turns out to be a kindred spirit, you could have a new friend or acquaintance. If she ignores you or avoids you, you would feel rejected, but you would not have lost anything because you have no relationship now, to lose. You just have to go into it with no expectations and just be very careful.

My father has never told me that he might have a half-sibling, in a very similar situation to yours. However, my mother told me years ago that someone (a woman, I think) who was born around the time my paternal grandparents got married, contacted my father and his siblings when they were adults and said she was a half sister. So, it'd be like your half-sister contacting you. In her case, she never knew their father (my grandfather) and she just wanted to learn more about him, his family, his lineage, ancestry, etc. According to my mother, my father and his siblings were so disturbed by the fact that they might have a half-sister (meaning that their father either cheated on my grandmother or had an out-of-wedlock child before they were dating, and didn't tell her). My mother said that they (mainly one of my dad's sisters) shooed this woman off and told her that she couldn't possibly be their half-sister and that they didn't want to hear from her again or hear about their mother. And that's that.

Meanwhile, we all live in the (large) city where my grandfather's family has been since 1900, and I once in a while wonder if I have cousins out there who I don't know about. My generation is far enough removed from the drama that I would be interested and curious to meet cousins. And I wouldn't mind answering questions about the family history and genealogy that I know.

I say, mull it over for a few days, no rush. And keep any initial contact short, but warm and polite. And honest, if you would like to not involve your father. You should probably say something to the effect of what you said here: "For various reasons, I'm not in touch with our father. That's why I didn't know about having a half-sister. But once I learned about you, I was interested in contacting you, just to learn more about you" or something like that.

Email is probably safer, if you don't want her to pass on your last name to your father. Although, I agree with blarg314, that if you're too secretive, she's going to think it's a hoax, trying to get her credit card number or something. I think it is better if you do contact her directly, and not through a third party. I always like to "go straight to the source" and not have people speak on my behalf. Like the game "Operator," words and meanings get garbled the more they are retold.

If you do go with email, you can set your "From" name to your maiden name and leave your new last name out completely. I have a lot of friends who, even after they changed their last names, still have email addresses from when they were single and still have their maiden names listed.

Carnation

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #31 on: May 18, 2011, 10:15:12 AM »
Have a third party contact her, so this can be done with the least stress for all concerned.



Who?  I can't think of anyone else to contact her...


Not a mutual friend, just a friend of yours or someone who can call her and say they are calling on your behalf.   If this is a surprise to her, it might mitigate any shock she might feel.


Bibliophile

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #32 on: May 18, 2011, 10:39:20 AM »
My brother is going to *finally* call me tonight to discuss this.  I'm not going to keep this as a family secret.  Bro keeps saying "What good could come of this"...  I told him that maybe nothing good will come of it, but I'm not keeping it secret.  I haven't slept since Friday.  I've been awake until 2-3 and then I wake up about every 1/2 hour....

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JoieGirl7

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #33 on: May 18, 2011, 02:02:10 PM »
My brother is going to *finally* call me tonight to discuss this.  I'm not going to keep this as a family secret.  Bro keeps saying "What good could come of this"...  I told him that maybe nothing good will come of it, but I'm not keeping it secret.  I haven't slept since Friday.  I've been awake until 2-3 and then I wake up about every 1/2 hour....

And you don't see something wrong about that?
 
It sounds like you should see a counselor before proceeding with this because it doesn't sound like much good would come of it being in this kind of state of mind.
 
You don't know that this person will consider you "family" or not.
 
How does contacting her mean that you are not keeping a family secret?  You don't seem to be in a hurry to tell your mother.   Your mother is someone who is reciprocally your family.

From a purely etiquette point of view, I think you would be imposing your emotional state into the life of a total stranger.  It doesn't matter that you are related, you are putting your needs way before the needs of this person you don't even know.

Bibliophile

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #34 on: May 18, 2011, 02:28:44 PM »
My brother is going to *finally* call me tonight to discuss this.  I'm not going to keep this as a family secret.  Bro keeps saying "What good could come of this"...  I told him that maybe nothing good will come of it, but I'm not keeping it secret.  I haven't slept since Friday.  I've been awake until 2-3 and then I wake up about every 1/2 hour....

And you don't see something wrong about that?
 
It sounds like you should see a counselor before proceeding with this because it doesn't sound like much good would come of it being in this kind of state of mind.
 
You don't know that this person will consider you "family" or not.
 
How does contacting her mean that you are not keeping a family secret?  You don't seem to be in a hurry to tell your mother.   Your mother is someone who is reciprocally your family.

From a purely etiquette point of view, I think you would be imposing your emotional state into the life of a total stranger.  It doesn't matter that you are related, you are putting your needs way before the needs of this person you don't even know.

Of course I see something wrong with that - I was stressed about the possibility this weekend & then stressed about the reality of my brother not telling me sooner on Monday & Tuesday.  The problem isn't the fact that there's a sister, it's that my bro thinks it's something that needs to be kept from everyone, including my mother.  I just got confirmation of this Monday morning.  I've been trying to find out info from bro before taking this to my mother.  Telling her without talking to him first, as he's known about it for about a year, would be throwing him under the bus and would cause even more drama. As it is a matter that involves both my brother & I, I think that it's perfectly normal to want to talk with him about it first.  I would've told my mom on Monday had I talked with my brother first.  With FB & everything else, I don't want my mom to hear it thru the grapevine before either my brother, my dad or I tell her - that's going to make her angry at us (bro & I) for keeping it secret on top of anything else she might feel.  In all honesty, I'm surprised that there is just 1 half-sibling running around out there, not so much that I have one to begin with...

I'm not putting my needs over the half-sister's needs by sending her an introductory email and I'm not sure how "Hello, my name is ____________ I think we have the same father" will convey some deep emotional meaning.  If she wants further contact, that's up to her.  I'm fully prepared to let it go at that point if she doesn't, but I'm not going to ignore her existance because it will cause some temporary family drama.   

Also, I want to add that she contacted our dad.  My brother was given the very basic info because he talked with my dad at that time (hasn't since, but not because of this).  It's not a huge reach to think there's a chance she wants some sort of contact as she was the first to reach out.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 03:16:32 PM by Bibliophile »

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sweetgirl

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2011, 10:45:14 AM »
Please just bare in mind that we are just trying to look out for you. I know you didnt ask for it but some of us have been in this situation ourselves and just want to prepare you for all outcomes. I think most of us are just trying to express that it might be best to just sit on this a while and contact her when its all sunk in. But its up to you....we just dont want you getting hurt.

Bibliophile

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2011, 10:52:25 AM »
Please just bare in mind that we are just trying to look out for you. I know you didnt ask for it but some of us have been in this situation ourselves and just want to prepare you for all outcomes. I think most of us are just trying to express that it might be best to just sit on this a while and contact her when its all sunk in. But its up to you....we just dont want you getting hurt.

And I appreciate that; however, I wasn't too happy with the tone of the other post, thus got a bit defensive.  Sorry about that.

I did talk with my bro last night & I'm calling my mom tonight to break the news.  Found out that dad told bro the news in a very short, odd, undetailed email so we don't know if she was raised by her mother, adopted, or anything else other than she contacted him.  DH made me promise not to do the mom call on the drive home - I always call from the car to pass the time during rush hour (ear piece/handsfree, of course).  He said I need to devote my full attention to it & doesn't want me in a car wreck because of the call...  So mom will get a call when I get home.

And Arnold is not making my week any easier...  What timing...

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx

Ceiling Fan

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #37 on: May 19, 2011, 11:36:42 AM »
I think you have the right idea. In response to the question asked in your title: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?, I would say, carefully and with no expectations.

I don't see anything wrong with saying "I know of your existence. Did you know of mine? Would you like to talk?"

To those who think it's a bad idea: I don't think that anyone has some right to go through life undisturbed by mere reality. As long as the OP isn't contacting her half-sib with hostile intent, this is a realtionship issue, not an etiquette one.

ETA: though it certainly should be done as politely as possible.

I think it's valid to discuss how the OP goes about it, but I think that the fact that she is doing it is between the OP and her family.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2011, 11:38:55 AM by Ceiling Fan »

Daffydilly

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #38 on: May 19, 2011, 12:17:08 PM »
I'll admit, I've had some experience meeting a father and half siblings I had not known about. PM if you want to talk. If I were going to write a letter it would go something like this.

"Dear Half-sib,
My name is Bibliophile and a daughter of Jon Doe. Last week, I learned about our possible relation through him. And I'd like the chance to get to know you. My email is _______ and my phone number is ______.
This may be as large a shock to you as it was to me. But I'd appreciate the chance to get to know you. I grew up in _____, went to college at ______ and now live in ______. Currently, I love to read a good book, cheer for the _____ team at playoffs and indulge in chocolate sundaes with sprinkles when I'm sad.
Thank you and I hope that we can talk soon,
Bibliophile

Winterlight

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2011, 01:23:39 PM »
I think you have the right idea. In response to the question asked in your title: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?, I would say, carefully and with no expectations.

I don't see anything wrong with saying "I know of your existence. Did you know of mine? Would you like to talk?"

Excellent advice, IMO.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
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Bibliophile

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #40 on: May 20, 2011, 08:46:28 AM »
The conversation with mom went well.  It wasn't at all shocking to her - she's surprised there aren't more running around.  She's still annoyed that she didn't know before they got married, but is willing to accept that maybe he didn't either.  And I sent an email off to the half-sister.  It was friendly, with a bit of info about me and I left any further contact in her hands.  I did tell her that at this time my brother is still processing things and isn't ready for contact (and explained my reason for telling her) so that if she does decide to get in contact with me she's not going to be hit by more surprises...

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx

Danika

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling?
« Reply #41 on: May 21, 2011, 03:54:12 AM »
The conversation with mom went well.  It wasn't at all shocking to her - she's surprised there aren't more running around.  She's still annoyed that she didn't know before they got married, but is willing to accept that maybe he didn't either.  And I sent an email off to the half-sister.  It was friendly, with a bit of info about me and I left any further contact in her hands.  I did tell her that at this time my brother is still processing things and isn't ready for contact (and explained my reason for telling her) so that if she does decide to get in contact with me she's not going to be hit by more surprises...

I'm glad that your mom seemed to take the info rather well. And that you even told her in the first place. Sounds like your email was a good one. I hope you get a nice response. Please, keep us posted if you do.

Bibliophile

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Re: How do you contact a previously unknown sibling? UPDATE #40, pg 3
« Reply #42 on: May 23, 2011, 12:22:16 PM »
UPDATE:  I sent the email last week - I got a response today :)  Other than a misguided view that our father is basically good, if not a little eccentric (he can put on a good show when he wants to), it was a really good response!!  Although I can't stand the man, I will not pass on any negative stuff about him to her.  But it's a good first contact!  She was adopted at 1 month & her birth mother is no longer living. 

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx

Ceiling Fan

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So she was put up for adoption by her birthmother, who was the woman your father had an affair with? How did they find each other?

And did she know of your existence?

Sorry about my curiosity, that's a good update :)

Bibliophile

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No, this all happened before my mother & father met.  She was born about a year before they met and he didn't know about it.  Or maybe he did if he had to sign away rights...  Not sure what the rules were.  She started a search for her birth parents a couple years ago & then found our father before Christmas of 2009.  I guess our dad told her of my existance, not sure.  I have her phone number so I'll get the whole scoop.

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx