Half sister wants to meet us - what do I do?
August 1, 2011 6:04 AM Subscribe
My father recently revealed that he got someone pregnant before he met my mother, some 35 years ago. He knew his biological daughter existed for a long time, and didn't tell anyone. Now my half-sister is looking to meet our family...
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My parents have been married almost 30 years and I am the eldest of their four adult (late teens, early to mid twenties) children. A few months ago, my dad called the family together and told us that he had another daughter, from a relationship that he had before he met my mother. Dad has known about the existence of this other daughter for 11 years, and hadn't told anyone, including my mother. The other daughter has been married (but I understand is now separated) and has two children of her own - she has known that Dad is her father since her late teens. The news that he had kept this from my mother absolutely threw a bomb into the middle of our (complex, but tight knit) family circle. Mom was absolutely shattered and furious, didn't know whether she could stay with my father after such a betrayal and so many secrets, and did not know how to rethink her own life in the wake of the news. Dad thought that until the other daughter contacted him, there was no reason to tell any of us about it, and thought it would only cause problems, so he stayed silent. (She contacted him for the first time just before Christmas; he told us in mid-March.) Before he told us, they did DNA tests - it is clear that she is his child.
Since March, my parents have been to counselling (because we all told them they had to, to save their marriage). They are still together, but it's an emotional minefield being around them. None of us have met the other sister yet. Dad really *really* wants us all to meet her; Mom is very conflicted about the whole thing and it still upsets her. To add insult to injury (or, really, the other way around) Mom has recently had major surgery and has had trouble recovering physically because of all the emotional stress. My three siblings have all said that they have no interest in meeting the other sister in the immediate future, especially while Mom is having such a hard time - she has to come first. I told my dad the same thing, but that I did want to meet the other sister some time. He now seems to be keen for me to act on this soon (he was pushing for August, I left myself uncommitted to any kind of schedule). I really don't think I'm ready for it at all, but I know I will be some time, and I am increasingly aware that I have very little awareness of how to go about it.
I'm trying to prepare myself for what this could be like, and how much of an impact it's likely to have on my personal relationships with other people, as well as my own emotional equilibrium. In the interests of being ready for it, I would really like to hear from people who can offer me some perspective on the situation, especially thoughts as to good ways to approach it, and things to say/not say/do/not do, etc, when I do meet her. Stories of this happening to you or someone you know, whether it was dealt with well or badly and how that worked out would be great, and any specific advice for handling the situation if you have been through it yourself.