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Ask Amy: Adoption disclosure reveals surprise siblings

DEAR AMY: I was adopted as an infant and blessed with wonderful parents and an ideal childhood. The only thing missing was a sibling — I’ve always wanted a brother or sister. My parents always told me that my birth parents were a married couple who didn’t want to have children.

After my parents’ deaths, I found my birth parents. They are still married. I wrote asking for family medical information. They responded with a short letter giving me some basic medical information, which I appreciated.

They said they were relieved to know I’d had a good life and mentioned that less than two years after I was born they had another daughter, followed by two sons.

This was a shock, to say the least. Because of the undertone of fear in my birth mother’s letter, I do not believe my birth siblings know of my existence.

Many of my family and friends believe my birth siblings have a right to know they have another sister. I am not so sure. All of us are in our late 50s or early 60s. I do not know these people, and we have no history together.

I am satisfied to have some questions answered and blanks filled in. I don’t know this family’s dynamics. I have no desire to do anything to hurt my birth parents. Do my birth siblings have a right to know about me? -- DQ

DEAR DQ: I do believe that these siblings have a “right” to know that they have another sibling out in the world, and I also believe that you have a right to know, or not know, these people if you choose.

This should be completely up to you. No one else in your world has a “right” to tell you how to feel or what to do about such a complicated issue, and you will need to affirm this, firmly.

The most logical and compassionate way to approach this would be to contact your birth parents and pose these questions to them. After all, they volunteered information about siblings when you first contacted them. Obviously, there are some personal risks associated with this contact, but the rewards are potentially wonderful and affirmative for everyone.

DEAR AMY: I am getting married in October, and we are having a small wedding with close family and friends.

My father was an abusive and terrible father, and while I now talk to him about once a month, I am not close to him nor do I want to be. I do not want him at my wedding because of the stress and anxiety it would bring.

How do I kindly tell him he is not invited? Is there even a way to do that? I don’t want to lie to him, but I don’t know what to say. My mother and siblings will be attending, which makes the conversation harder. -- Anxious

DEAR ANXIOUS: Many people believe that weddings convey automatic inclusion to any scoundrel you happen to be related to, but I believe that weddings are a life event where people earn their way to the table. They don’t earn their way to the table by being spectacular, but by, say, not being abusive and not being terrible.

“Decency” admits flaws and failings; it’s not that high a standard. Your father has not met this standard nor does he seem to have tried.

You say, “Dad, I’m getting married this fall. I want you to know this, but I also want you to know that we will not be inviting you. I hope you understand.”

DEAR AMY: “Confused” posed the challenging question of what to do if you realize you are gay in a straight marriage. I agree with your recommendation to be open about this.

I am a gay woman married to a straight man. We have been together for more than 20 years and have dealt with this successfully as a couple and have chosen to stay married. -- Married but Gay

DEAR MARRIED: There is no one way to be successfully married. You have found yours.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services



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