Dear Amy: About a year ago, I used a genetic testing service. The website connects users who share genetics.
Recently, I got a message from another user (a woman in her 60s in another state), that showed we were a very close genetic match.
She e-mailed me, saying she was looking for information on her father, whom she had never met. She said her mother had a very brief relationship with a U.S. Marine during the Korean War. He had probably used a fake name. They had no photos, and they were never able to track him down. Her mother later moved to the U.S.
The woman, “Janet,” asked if it was possible if my grandfather (who is now dead) was her father. She knew very little except for what her mother (also now dead) had told her, including specific identifying physical characteristics. My grandfather was a Korean War veteran and had the exact characteristics she described (including a distinctive tattoo).
My grandfather would’ve been married to my grandmother (who is still alive) when Janet was conceived. An uncle of mine was born a year before Janet.
I always saw my grandfather as a good, caring family man. I have not told anyone about this. I do not want to tarnish his memory, upset my grandmother, or change how my family views him.
Janet would like to meet my aunts and uncles, but I have told her I am not comfortable giving her their contact information. She has recently started pleading with me, and I truly feel awful for not giving it to her. What do I do?
Amy says: One (perhaps unforeseen) aspect of using genetic testing is the way the results can open up confounding human dilemmas concerning long-buried family secrets. Recently, I was at a gathering where several people had used a genetic matching site — and all of them noted shocking, unanticipated results, including being matched with (half) siblings they hadn’t known about. And yet all reported that this ultimately was a positive experience.
In your case, Janet has already received useful genetic information. She now (quite understandably) wants more. You should at least answer any questions you’re able to answer.
If you aren’t willing to even ask your aunts and uncles if they would be open to contact with her, then she will have to find another conduit to them.
It would be best if your family was open to the idea that people are complicated, and don’t always do the right thing — but this is the fullness of the human experience, and ultimately this is something to explore and embrace, rather than deny.
Dear Amy: My husband and I recently became friends with another couple. As a group, we get along famously.
However, lately I do not feel that my friend likes me. She makes remarks about how I don’t exercise my dog, how I don’t treat my husband right, how I treat my son, how they can’t take me anywhere, and the list goes on.
I try not to trigger these comments and shrug them off, as they account for only a few unpleasant moments during several good hours spent together.
I like many other things about this person, but I do not like how she makes me feel when we are together. How do I let her know, without hurting her feelings, and how do I phrase asking her to stop throwing darts my way? Or am I just being too sensitive?
Amy says: I don’t think it’s a lot to ask for someone to refrain from trashing you — so no, you are not being too sensitive.
Tell your friend, “I usually enjoy our time together. But you seem to find a lot wrong with me. Honestly, I don’t like to be criticized, but especially in front of our husbands. What’s up with that?”
She may say, as many do, “Hey, I call ’em like I see ’em.” Then you can tell her, “Well, that’s a trait that I don’t appreciate. It’s hurtful, and so I wish you would stop.”
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