Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

I know I need to see a therapist, and I’m on it, but I was also wondering if you or your readers might be able to offer me advice. Recently, I did the 23andme kit, the DNA sampling that tells you your ancestry and some health risks. I was mostly curious and did it for fun and because I seriously didn’t think I’d learn anything that life-altering given my family background. Therefore, I was confounded when the results told me that I have nine(!) half-siblings. Initially, I thought this must be a mistake, or that my father was a lot more unfaithful to my mother than I knew. My parents are divorced and I know he had affairs, but once I thought about it some more I realized that there’s no way my father had more than nine children with other women without it having had serious repercussions for our family as I was growing up.

I reached out to one of the half-siblings listed, who told me that she was conceived with a sperm donor. She also discovered this news through 23andme and has been in touch with the majority of the half-siblings listed. We spoke on the phone for a while, and all the details she gave me line up: the clinic’s location relative to where my parents lived at the time, the dates of when the donor sold his sperm, and the donor’s ethnicity. I knew my parents struggled with infertility before I was born because my mom had mentioned this to me as a way of explaining why they didn’t have children for so long after getting married, but it was always framed as though it was an issue she had.

To say that I had absolutely no idea that I was conceived with donor sperm is an understatement. My parents never even hinted that this might be the case. I don’t know what to do next. I feel betrayed, incredibly sad, and overwhelmed. Should I talk to my mother first? My father? What do I say? Should I talk to them with my husband there or by myself? Or is it better to never let them know I know? I don’t have a close relationship with either of them, but my relationship with both of them is fine. We check in with each other regularly, and we give each other updates on our lives — and my child’s ongoings. If it helps to know, I was conceived in the late 1970s when donor sperm was a lot less regulated than it is today. I haven’t even begun to think about whether I want to reach out to my genetic half-siblings and the donor.

This might not be the usual type of question you answer, but I think you’ve given really good advice about how to communicate with family members about difficult topics and when it’s best to leave things unsaid. Thank you for your time. — Stunned by DNA Discovery

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This week in the forums we’re discussing:

Men and Their Compliments

Found a topless picture of my partner’s ex-wife

Controlling older sister, feel trapped at 20

Jealousy/insecurity in a relationship – advice needed please

Could this be anxiety?

My husband went to rehab for meth and is now smoking weed! Need help.

Dating a recovering addict-family isn’t happy

Should I move into the dorms or live at home?

Parents cancelling their trip

I want my boyfriend to prove he loves me

Advice needed regarding grandma caring for kids

Feeling pressured to babysit sisters kid overnight

Fiancé pushes me to my limits when we fight

Anyone going on awesome dates?

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].


How have you been feeling lately? The last week has felt particularly heavy at least in terms of the continued terrible news cycle. And on a personal level, I have been feeling more anxious than usual (and I’m already fairly anxious to begin with). I’ve had a few restless nights thinking/worrying about… [click to continue…]


updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Trick Or Treat Mom” whose baby daddy wanted to throw a Halloween party for his 8-year-old daughter on the pregnant LW’s due date. “We have known the due date for over six months! I am offended not because he’s deciding to throw a party so close to my son being born, but because he is refusing to change the date and is taking away from my son’s special day.” Did the LW get her way? Was the Halloween party moved? Update below:

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