Thursday, March 20, 2014

Would You Want To Know, If You Had A Brother?

 Would you want to know, if you had a brother?
Imagine all that would change...

As genealogists, we are not only used to mysteries, we relish in them. And family secrets have created many mysteries for many families. These mysteries don't always seem as personal when they involved people who lived & died generations ago. But, for a moment, imagine the family mystery happened a little more recently... say 1945 or 1965... and that it involved your own Mother or Grandmother... Then what? Would you want to know?

Would you want to know that as a 19 year old, your Mother had a son and gave him up for adoption? Or if Grandpa fathered a child with someone else-- would you want to know?

Thanks to progressive thinking, the stigma surrounding births "out of wedlock" is largely gone in general society, so the large number of secret adoptions from the first half of the 20th century are no longer.

Back to my question... Would you want to know, if you had a Brother?

Imagine all that would change? Everything you have always known & thought could be no longer.... Family secrets tend to come out... especially when a genealogist starts poking around or asking questions. People tell "secrets"...sometimes because they want to-- and other times because they didn't really realize it was a secret.

I've known many secrets in my 20+ years of genealogy research-- some of these secrets I've told... others I still keep. Personally, I feel secrets are unhealthy-- for all involved. But I don't like to tell a story that's not mine to tell... I prefer to leave that to someone else...

What about you? Have you known of a secret birth that others did not? Did you feel obligated to tell those affected? And did you?

Have you seen the movie 'Philomena'? It is still in theatres-- if you haven't seen it, you should! Not only because Judi Dench is perfection, but because it is a story about a secret... and the woman who finally told hers... and her quest for answers. Such a heartbreaking tale (and a true story!)--- I wonder how many countless women could relate...

There is responsibility in knowing a secret. I know of people who have a brother or sister, unbeknownst to them. Some may be angry that you told... Some may be angry that you didn't tell sooner. There really is no easy way to deal with a secret...

To answer my own question... I would want to know. I would want to know if I had a brother. I know that it is something I could handle, with relative ease.

But could you? I mean, really...could you?
How many situations are you aware in your own lives or families, involving unknown siblings. How does that fit into your genealogy?

Would you want to know... If you had a Brother?


  1. Yes, I would. And, I'm working on it right now. After my dad passed, his youngest brother, and the only one still living, gave me the news that my dad (or possibly another brother) had fathered a child in 1935. DNA has confirmed that he is related to my uncle, now it is up to me to determine if he is a half-brother or a cousin.

  2. I would love it...hopefully as long as it was when my parents weren't together. In fact, a 'new' cousin found me via dna. They were going to contact my uncle and as he is elderly, I had the 'pleasure' of contacting him and forwarning him, etc (and it turns out it might have been his brother, who liked to use his brother's name and get him in trouble). My other cousins are not thrilled with this knowledge...and most, if not all, of my siblings wish it was us with the new sibling, lol.