Surprise, you have a daughter: a DNA surprise for everyone in the family

From Brianne: Amanda was shocked to find out in her late 30s that her father was not her biological father. Her mother was also shocked, having been pretty sure of her daughter's paternity all of those years. There is an assumption that a mother knows the children of her father, but sometimes when there are two partners around the same time, it's hard to know. This scenario is not uncommon, that a mother is as shocked to find out she was wrong about her child's paternity.

People are people, have always been, and will always be. There's no need for judgment, no need for ridicule. People come into the world in different ways, and thanks to DNA testing, we are learning that family takes on many shapes and forms. Our understanding of family changes with time.

Great people come from surprises, and no person is a mistake. I'm so happy that this DNA surprise - a situation that could have created a deep divide between Amanda and her mother - only served to bring them together. Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your story.  


About a year ago, I confirmed that my dad is not my biological father through 23andMe testing done on me, my mom, and my (now-half) brother. We knew this was a possibility as my mom was 17 when she got pregnant (teenagers, right?), but it was still a little disorienting to confirm it in my late 30s.

My dad married my mom when I was a baby and has never once questioned that I was his daughter, although my mom was honest that there was a second person in the time frame who could have won that race. They divorced when I was a child, but, while our relationship is complicated for other reasons, he is very much a part of my life.

My goal was never to mention this to my dad, because I know it would break his heart.

But that would prove difficult over time. I discovered through a different ancestry site that I have a half-sister through my bio dad, and we have connected. I hope to build a relationship with her and want my kids to know her. This will be a much more difficult thing to hide from my dad.

I was torn about what to do. Should I tell him now or risk him finding out another way? I live on the opposite side of the country. How best to tell? Do I make my mom tell him?

When National Siblings Day came around, I felt conflicted. I finally had a sister after having grown up with younger brothers. It was sad not to be able to do a silly announcement on Facebook with goofy pictures from the childhood we did not share. I couldn’t acknowledge her in any official way, as the man who raised me as his daughter still did not know we are not actually related.

After several months, I gave my mother permission to write a letter to my biological father to let him know she had me nearly 40 years ago.

She let me take the lead on whether or not to contact, and I had let things rest for awhile.

My bio dad isn't on social media, so we hunted down an address. I gave the okay to have her send a letter about 2 weeks ago. We kept it very simple, 1 page long. She wrote that she wanted to let him know that she did not intend to keep me a secret from him, and his daughters and grandkids are pretty awesome. She also apologized for any pain this might cause, etc.

Now we wait for a response.

It's a bit frustrating since we aren't 100% we have the right guy (multiple people have the same name) or the right address. He may just read the letter and never respond. Or a jealous partner might not let him respond. Or he might just be an asshole. Or a million other things.

I think I will be most frustrated if we get no response at all.

I like to think I'm worth knowing.

I want him to be proud of me and what I've accomplished with my life and my family. I feel this is sort of silly since I don't even know him. And I guess I want to be proud of him, too. I want to know how he has changed from the pot-smoking, good-girl-knocking-up bad boy of his wild youth to an adult.

I have a silly fantasy of him getting to know me and finding delayed happiness in knowing he helped create this legacy. Excited to tell his friends about his awesome daughters and his grandkids (we haven't been able to figure out if he has other children).

My practical side tells me that DNA is not destiny.

That I am who I am because of my mother's love and my family and community, not because of 23 chromosomes. He may not be someone I would be proud to share DNA with. But there are a lot of circles going around in my head.

I don’t know how this will turn out, but I’m hopeful.