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Ethics of DNA NPE/adoption exposure

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  • #16
    Times have changed a lot, the era when parentage was hidden and only occasionally revealed on the deathbed seems to have given way to a new trend where finding previously hidden family members is popular, fashionable, and all over the media. The personal impact might be likened to the sun coming out after spending a long time living under a cloud. No doubt different families will experience the revelations differently, but as a native of Seattle, the metaphor of getting out from under a cloud sounds appealing! I hope the family endures and thrives.

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    • #17
      I guess the question is, do you want to talk to them or have a relationship with them? If yes, then you should make the effort to contact them - the consequences are worth the risk if you want a chance to build relationships with them. I wouldn't immediately lay the details on them, but just reach out, say hello, etc. If you're fine with the way things are right now, then you don't really need to worry about it unless one of them contacts you. And if they do, then they obviously want to know - it may still be a shock to them and cause disruption, it may not be what they were expecting, but they willingly took the test, and they willingly contacted you so they have only themselves to blame for finding out (they may still try to blame you, but that would be unfair of them).

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      • #18
        Originally posted by EricDu View Post
        Very interesting thread. My philosophy, if this were to happen, is to tell no lie and not volunteer more information than necessary. Let them come to you and answer their questions honestly.

        Cousins (especially the ones who went through the steps of getting a DNA test) are more likely interested in finding out the truth rather than preserve a family secret. People directly involved in the cover-up may have a different reaction.
        Oh yeah, I've been made aware of two such (somewhat open) "secrets" within the family, one at the first cousin level and another at the second cousin level that we're aware of and basically waiting for whenever those persons, or a descendant, turns up on our DNA match list. Or more particularly, with the second cousin, when/if somebody from the relevant line posts asking for help identifying "an unexplained match" as we're not sure how aware the involved lines are of what went on.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by ec1970 View Post

          A year later and critical mass has definitely been reached. A half-niece showed up and recently reached out to me. I basically asked if she had heard of DNA exposing family secrets and would she be prepared to know who I am. I think I may be lucky. It sounds like this family is very open and excited by the prospect of meeting a new relative.
          That's fantastic - congratulations, ec1970 And many thanks for letting us know!!

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          • #20
            Originally posted by RebeccaR View Post
            You are not some secret that needs to be kept. You are a living, breathing, feeling human being and are entitled to all the benefits of such. You do what you want to do for yourself, not coddling to someone else to keep some sort of secret for them, as if another human being is a dirty secret that needs to be kept, as if you're only able to perform half the actions of that of another person. It is not, you are not and you are entitled to the full benefit of whatever that DNA test revealed. Just go about what you would normally do, it doesn't need to be complicated.
            Well stated Rebecca. My birth mom chooses to keep things secret along with her sister, and my birth father died 1978. However, I have connected with some close family. I have been communicating with my great nephew, whose paternal great-grandfather was my birth father. I recently met my great grand niece, whose maternal 2nd great-grandfather was my birth father. I have also communicated with 1st & second cousins, and 3rd-13th cousins. I have been able to confirm a paternal 13th cousin, 108/111 ydna & Big Y match, common ancestor was John Wells, b.c. 1492 Staffordshire, England.

            Best regards, Doug

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            • #21
              And now anonymous sperm donors are being discovered: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/16/h...a-testing.html

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              • #22
                Originally posted by ec1970 View Post
                And now anonymous sperm donors are being discovered: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/16/h...a-testing.html
                If you ask me, this isn't a DNA issue, it's a breech of contract issue. The mother agreed in contract never to seek out the identity of the donor and/or contact him or his family, and that's exactly what she did. It doesn't really matter what method she used, she violated her contract with the sperm bank.

                "Ms. Teuscher didn’t remember reading that fine print when she signed the papers."

                Well, that's her own fault and she has no one to blame but herself.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Germanica View Post

                  If you ask me, this isn't a DNA issue, it's a breech of contract issue. .
                  I agree. But I do wonder what happens when the child becomes an adult and wonders and does DNA testing? Are they entitled to know? They did not sign any contract.



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                  • #24
                    Not everything agreed to in a contract is necessarily legal, and if it isn't, it may not be enforceable. Truth is what it is.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by ec1970 View Post
                      I agree. But I do wonder what happens when the child becomes an adult and wonders and does DNA testing? Are they entitled to know? They did not sign any contract.
                      That's for the lawyers to decide, I guess.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Germanica View Post

                        That's for the lawyers to decide, I guess.
                        Going to be a quick case. I think it's basically soon to be settled law in some respects now.

                        Some Fertility Clinic Doctors have had charges/lawsuits pressed against them for having been discovered to be the "anonymous donor" for the mother's child. I know of at least one that was filed a little over a year ago that's local to me, and we're not particularly urban. Not sure what happened with that one, as I just laughed about the absurdity of that suit "Well, the Doctor didn't say he wasn't the donor, he just said the Donor preferred to remain anonymous."

                        I know there have been criminal cases against some other Fertility Clinicians who weren't dealing with "anonymous donors" as the sperm being used was supposed to be from the patients husband, not the doctor himself.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Germanica View Post
                          I guess the question is, do you want to talk to them or have a relationship with them? [----]
                          Everybody who is testing their DNA should be 100% prepared for the first one.

                          The second one is a difficult one, but it is not much different than the usual family relationships! We are might be distant to a (real!) sibling, but we might be we very close with a cousin, etc.

                          However, I wanted to comment on another angle.

                          When collecting genealogical stories in Central Europe before the DNA testing era, it came to me as a surprise that in small towns and in villages people generally knew who was not a biological child of her or his parents. Moreover, they usually knew who the real father was, and almost always knew the real mother****. I am guessing that in times before global gossip media, figuring that out was a popular pastime.

                          On the other hand, treatment of such children and later adults greatly varied. From comments of the type that it was her wise decision to seek a child with someone else when her husband was infertile, to the open ostracism towards such a child and sometimes also towards her or his family. An adulterous husband could be marked by having an adjacent grave, but clearly separated from his wife's grave; so I had learned to watch for that when visiting cemeteries.

                          In some sense, DNA testing moved us back to the times when everybody knew the real heritage of their neighbours. Anonymity of large cities is with us no more.

                          Unknown, but genetic family is composed from real people, some are bad, some are good. Each case is different. Like with past performance of shares, past good or bad experience is not an indicator of future gains or losses.


                          Going back to the original post, such a 50+ marriage had already suffered. Sometimes they had already reconciled many years ago, just never revealed to others. Sometimes, he had forgotten and she never learned. Maybe he had not forgotten and would like to know... Etc. Knowing that are positive and negative outcomes of either revealing or keeping a secret tells us absolutely nothing about those two individuals in their marriage.



                          Mr. W.


                          ****
                          Yes, at least in the 19th century, it was not unheard of for an infertile wife to pretend that a child born from her husband to, for example, a servant girl was her own one. The married couples often moved away for a year or so trying to conceal that, and then possibly employed the biological mother as a wet nurse. Seen fewer stories from the 20th century, I am imaging that they are more rare since the state imposed bureaucracies became more efficient in tracking pregnant women.
                          Last edited by dna; 1st March 2019, 06:28 PM.

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                          • #28
                            When I first did the DNA testing here and at Ancestry, I had several conversations with my close siblings and they indicated that giving medical information to a half sibling would be OK with them. However, they didn't want any personal information on them given out. I don't even show that I have siblings on my tree, per their requests. When it came to helping more distant cousins, there was no problem. I am working with a couple of 3rd to 4th cousins trying to narrow their possible lines down.

                            If I was younger and my parents were still alive, I would be very hesitant about dealing with a half sibling, especially if he or she was younger than I am. Such a sibling would most likely be from my father's side and it would have broken my mother's heart to know that he'd been cheating on her.

                            Someone looking for an unknown parent might hope for a Hallmark moment. However, as another person once said on another forum about this situation, "I'd tell them that they should get down on their knees and thank God that they didn't know my family."

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