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DNA and the Disappearing Dad

Updated On: February 29, 2024

Family Twist Episode 39: DNA and the Disappearing Dad

We’re joined by Colleen Neuharth, who refers to herself as a NPE (using the initials from non-parental event or not parent expected). Generally, this is when someone realizes the father that raised them isn’t their biological father. That’s what happened when Colleen discovered that a family friend from her past was actually her birth father. Colleen’s discovery has been a struggle for her over the last two years, and we discuss the challenging relationship with her birth father.

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Transcript

00:07

This is Family Twist, a podcast about astonishing adoption stories and finding family via DNA magic. I'm Kendall. And I'm Corey, and we've been inseparable partners in life since 03-04-05, also known as March 4, 2005. In January 2018, our found family journey took us 3,000 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area to New England, where we now live near my biological father, two half-siblings, and their families.

00:37

and the adventure continues.

00:46

Thank you for joining us again. Our guest this episode is Colleen Newhart, who has an interesting family twist for us. Thanks for joining us, Colleen. Happy to be here. Thank you so much. We've read a little bit via email about your story, but why don't you just start off and tell us what you did a couple of years ago? Sure. So in September, 2020, I actually got some DNA results back.

01:14

I did an ancestry DNA test that my husband had gotten me as a like a joint birthday anniversary gift because it's all in the same month in August. So I was really excited. I had wanted to do the test for a long time because I'm a historian kind of by trade. My undergraduate degree is in history and I was always the family genealogist for everybody. If there was a question, they came to me. All the old photos came to me. So that was really like a very...

01:43

important hobby for me, really large interest of mine. So the gift was perfect. I was very excited. I thought, you know, I had had a tree built of maybe 20,000 people already. So I thought that maybe I might be able to get some new information. My great grandma on my maternal side was adopted. So there was a break after her where I couldn't, I didn't know, you know, I knew her adopted side, but I didn't know the biological side.

02:12

So I thought maybe I'd be able to figure out where she came from. So I was thinking, oh, with this test, I'll get maternal information. Well, turns out it was paternal information that I got. I was connected to a, on Ancestry, it's listed as a first cousin to close family, or close family to first cousin. And I didn't really know what that meant because I grew up thinking I had no cousins. So I was like, who is this person? So.

02:40

Eventually I figured out from my mom that the person I connected to was a half-brother and that my dad who raised me and my parents are still together. They've been together for 35 years. The dad who raised me isn't my biological father. So that was September 2020. It'll be two years or three years. Wow. Time flies. It'll be three years, not before long. Right. So have you...

03:09

Well, and maybe you've never sought out your half brother, but do you know who that person is now? I do know who he is. So his last name is very, very, very German, like very distinct, like there's one of him in the world. Wow. So I was able to find, I sought out my biological father first, and we did actually get to meet six months after, but we're not currently.

03:38

in reunion, I had sent messages. I had both a half brother and a half sister, but he's the only one that did that DNA test. And they're both a few years older than me. So I'm the youngest of everybody. I grew up with a sister who's three years older and they're my half siblings are even older than my sister who I grew up with. So I contacted both of them, my half brother and half sister, and I've never heard from my half brother ever. My half sister,

04:08

Originally didn't respond to like snail mail or Facebook messaging, but she did actually respond to one One Facebook message, I think that must have been at least eight months ago It's been a while nothing recent and she you know We went back and forth and it was a really nice exchange and she said, you know I'd be open to keeping communication open and then just totally ghosted me. So Yeah, I know who they are but we don't

04:37

I don't really speak to anybody currently, but I spoke the most to my biological father. Wow. And you mentioned to us previously via email that your biological father is still with his wife. Yes. That he was with at the time that you were created. And so do you- They were friends. Yeah. My parents and-

05:06

My biological father and his wife were friends. They lived in the same neighborhood. And my biological father is my sister who I grew up with, her godfather. Wow. But I didn't know him growing up because they moved away. And so I was very young when they were all, you know, friends and happy. So I didn't really know of this person. I just knew of his first name mentioned. So I couldn't tell you anything about him. Right. Do you think...

05:33

Well, maybe it's all conjecture, right? But do you wonder if maybe the distance that his other children are giving you is because they don't want their mother to know about you? I'm sure that's part of it. When I first connected with my biological father, I had mentioned right off the bat that I wanted to talk to them, I wanted some, or at least to try to initiate contact. Of course, you don't know how they're going to respond, but

06:02

I told him that was something I was interested in. And from the beginning, he was saying, you know, I don't think it's really gonna go well. First he used the excuse of one of the grandchildren. So my half sisters, I think it's one of the youngest children. There, she had twins. One of the twins had some health issues at birth. And so apparently a lot of people were uprooted and moved to help.

06:30

the youngest child who I think is doing quite well. I don't think he needs a ton of extra. There still might be some things that he needs, but I think he's pretty well established. A lot of people moved to help him. So he was saying, we can't ruin this because people have left careers, left states to help this one child. Yes, but then he was using, the half siblings will have to pick a side, like my side or their mom's side. So this...

06:58

this will break up the family. And to my knowledge, the wife still does not know. Wow, it's just, yeah, awkward and because of the timing involved, right? Like it's just, you know. There's no way to explain it. I mean, it's very clear what happened. Exactly. And especially, I think because they were friends, it might just add another layer of complexity. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, they...

07:27

I found photo albums because we were moving. We moved into this house almost two years ago. So when we were going through our stuff, figuring out what are we keeping, what are we actually moving, I found my parents' wedding album. And my biological father is in the photos and he's actually walking my dad who raised me, his mother, so should have been my grandmother down the aisle. The grandmother I didn't even get to meet because she passed away from breast cancer before I was born.

07:57

So there's all these weird overlapping pictures and I have cards from when my sister was baptized. The kids, some I have siblings, wrote her like a little baby thing and so I have just weird, weird, weird things. Yeah. Wow. It's, yeah, go ahead, Cory. So I'm curious, just backing up a little bit, what was the conversation like with

08:26

your birth mother and the father who raised you after you made this discovery? So I, originally I found the information with just my mom. I didn't know what the results meant and she was coming over randomly to drop some things off at my house. My dad who raised me was not there. So my mom was the one, it was me and my mom.

08:51

who figured out together, oh my gosh, this is what happened because she was saying she had no idea. That's a different conversation. So it was very insular and she told me, you know, don't tell, one of the first things she told me, do not tell your dad, the dad who raised me, do not have this discussion. I think I lasted about maybe two months, three months tops and internally it was just the most.

09:20

awful experience I've ever had. You know, don't tell your dad, don't tell your sister, don't tell anybody. I mean, I told my husband within like five minutes, but. Right. It was secrecy. And then at three months, I broke down with her and I was like, you need to tell him? I don't wanna be the one to do it, but if you refuse, I will tell him because I can't, I cannot function with this large thing hanging over me.

09:46

So they had their own private discussion. I was not there. And of course my dad was understandably distraught, but they seemed to, their strategy with all this has seemed to just push it under the rug and pretend like it didn't happen. And that's how I think they've moved through this together with denial. I mean, they know it happened, but they just pretend like it didn't happen.

10:14

Well, let me say you've got more willpower than Kendall because I think within five minutes he would have not only told me, but everybody. You're right. I, you know, different, different scenario, but you know, yeah, it just, after having wondered for so many years for me, you know, and you know, my adoptive parents were both deceased. So, you know what I mean? Like that there was no, I mean, they wouldn't have been heard. They wanted me to find my biological family, but

10:43

I didn't even have to give that a thought, really. So when you and your father, the ratio, when the next time you had a conversation, like it wasn't brought up, like he doesn't, has not talked about it with you at all or? We've talked about it minimally. One of the things that he indicated, and I can't remember if he indicated directly to me or through my mom, he indicated that he didn't want to know who it was. So in my mind, I think he's already figured it out.

11:14

Um, it's just, they were so close and, you know, I just, I feel like he, he might've figured it out by now, but he indicated he didn't want to know who it was. So we don't talk about who it is and we don't really talk about it much, but at the beginning, you know, he was, we were just talking about how hurt he was and how I was sorry that, you know, he had to go through this and I waited because I didn't want to hurt him. But again,

11:43

I could not, I physically could not go through life without mentioning, at least mentioning it once. We don't have to discuss it in depth, but yeah. It was too big of a problem. And I'm sure it doesn't change how you feel about you're not the man who raised you. No, no, nothing's changed in that regard. So this is just speculation on my part, but it's interesting that, you know, these two couples were so close. I mean, you know, the godfather of your sister and you know.

12:12

walking grandma down the aisle and then for them to not, sure, I understand, you move and you're not as close as you used to be, but to not have contact at all anymore, maybe it seems like somebody knew something was up. Well, obviously, your mother and your birth father knew about the affair, but interesting. My biological father mentioned that that was a large contributing factor for them to move, was he felt so guilty.

12:40

He says that he didn't know that I was his biological daughter, which I can believe. That to me does make sense. And they moved, I believe to Alabama. So I'm from Maryland originally, so there was quite a bit of distance. Two young kids. I think since he wasn't going to initiate contact with my parents, they probably just naturally fell out. But there was definitely guilt on his part that he didn't want.

13:09

you know, he wasn't really going to speak to them because he felt so crappy. Yeah. Yeah. In his words. Right. In his words. Well, and your mother might have, you know, felt really weird about it, too. You know, it's just yeah, probably awkward is the best, you know, the best possibility. Can you talk a little bit about what your hopes were? You know, once you made this discovery, got into contact with your birth father, like what were your hopes for? Like what a relationship could be.

13:40

So I come from very, very small family. Most of my older relatives are all deceased. My dad who raised me, he had two siblings and they're both passed away. They didn't have any children, either of them. My mom only has one sister and she didn't have any children. I have one remaining grandparent on my mom's side. So there's not a whole lot of people.

14:07

I didn't grow up with cousins, no cousins, hardly any grandparents. I've got basically nobody left, just like very insular. So when I got this news, I was like, Oh my gosh, like I had this chance to actually have a family. Now I knew that, you know, maybe they wouldn't be as excited as me, but I thought, you know, just some, not being invited to holidays, but at least, you know, having some sort of conversation. And then the idea of my daughter having cousins, um, because

14:37

My half-sister has three children and my half-brother has two children. That was something that I just really wanted for her Because I didn't have that experience growing up. My husband grew up with cousins. He's all these stories. I got nothing So I was I was really excited. I was trying not to get like to up too far ahead of myself But I saw you know, even with minimal contact how it might be a different experience for all of us

15:06

And so, and I assume he knows that he has a granddaughter, right? Yes, he knows. He doesn't... I don't know that he really conceptualizes that he has another grandchild, or if he just ignores it. I have no clue. I haven't spoken to him in a year, not for lack of trying, but... I don't know in his head how he thinks about it, but whenever we were emailing back and forth for that year, period.

15:35

He would always talk about his other grandkids and mine was never included in that. I mean, I sent him some photos, but then he never asked, generally grandparents want to take some sort of level of interest in their grandchildren. I don't even know if he knows her birthday. I don't, he of course knows nothing about her, likes, dislikes, what she's into. When I met him, it was just my husband and I. So he's never met her.

16:04

He's only seen a few photos and she certainly gets the short end of the stick and all that. Wow. And it's so hard to know how to feel about that, right? Like, I mean, at the end of the day, you know, I'm one of those people that's like, oh, it's their loss. You know what I mean? Like, you know, and it is obviously, but you want something different for your child, you know? I get more, I was very angry at the beginning. Like the first year I was angry at everybody.

16:33

Mostly it was because of how they were treating her. You know, that my half-siblings not wanting to contact me, whatever, but my kid is missing out with her cousins and then she's missing out with her grandparent. We just... Right. You know, she's just minimized. She's not really recognized. You know, he said to me, you know, we all, the people that know, not his wife, we all recognize that you're the biological daughter and that's the grandchild, but nobody...

17:02

acts like it, so it's just not cool. It isn't, and I tell ya, I get my defenses up when these kinds of conversations happen because it's like you had no control over the situation, your daughter has no control, you know what I mean? It's just, it feels so unfair, there's no other word to use, it's like, you know. Especially being the youngest, you know, everybody was doing their own thing before I was brought into it, and.

17:31

You know, it's not really my fault that you guys chose to do whatever it is that you chose to do. But then again, it's, you know, it's okay to be embarrassed. But at the end of the day, like I exist and I exist, I exist from you guys. So you have to figure out what to do with that at some point. Yeah. Right. I mean, you didn't ask for this and, you know, but then again, you know, here you are, you know, and here's your daughter, you know, like, you know.

18:00

this man has a granddaughter that he's never met. We can certainly try to put ourselves in other people's shoes. Who knows what's going on in his head or the heads of other people in this similar situation. But I just can't even fathom knowing that I would have a child and a grandchild out there and not wanting to get to know them. Can't even imagine it. I know. He's putting his own.

18:29

selfishness because he keeps saying, you know, if my wife finds out, I'll immediately get divorced. So he's putting his own, you know, what's going to happen to me over, well, what about these people I helped create? You know, it's, of course I get it's not a great situation. I don't envy him if he ever does actually tell his wife. I don't envy him in that situation, but it's not my fault.

18:57

Logically, like they've had a lot of years. I mean she doesn't know about it, but I'm saying if they've had a lot of good years since You know what? I mean like that your existence shouldn't diminish their relationship You know, I just and I'm one of those people Like I own my stuff and like at some point You know and I can say this is he's not my father You know your father needs to just be a grown-up and say

19:26

I messed up, but I have this beautiful daughter and great, you know what I mean? Like just, yeah, I just, I cannot relate to that side of the equation. Right. Well, and the other thing is like, and again, putting, you know, myself into somebody else's shoes, but you're half siblings, like just thinking about.

19:43

me and my siblings, like, I don't know who, me and my sister would be racing to the phone to see who could tell mom first. You know? So like, that secret would not be held. And they, so it's funny how I ended up contacting them. I didn't contact them right away, but I mailed a letter to them. And it turns out, after I mailed it, you know, same day, I emailed my biological father, because at the time we were still kind of communicating via email.

20:09

And I just, I didn't ask for permission. I just said, as a heads up, I put these letters in the mail. They're getting them just so you're aware. And he emailed back and said, I picked a really bad time to do that because they were going on a family vacation altogether, all the kids and all that. So he actually told me, he told his grown kids almost in their forties, don't open these letters until we get back. And I know that they didn't listen because...

20:36

On Ancestry, the profile of my half brother, he hadn't been active for a while because he did his test like a year or two years before me considerably. And then around the time I mailed it, it showed up that he was active that day. So he probably told his sister like really quick and they amongst themselves were talking. And I was wondering if they were going to tell the mom, but then later they confirmed, well he confirmed that the wife.

21:05

to my knowledge, still does not know. I mean, imagine the guilt trip that he put on them. Well, if you tell your mother, it's going to break her heart. We're going to get divorced. It's going to be devastating to the whole family, or whatever he'd said. But like, wow, the gall, the absolute gall. I mean, they're grown adults. And it's male from somebody that they don't even know. I mean, I changed my name when I got married. So even if they would have recognized my maiden name,

21:32

They don't know who Newhart is. Like, they don't, how would you react to if somebody said, you're gonna get this letter from somebody you've never met, but don't open it for a week. I mean, what is that? I know. I'd be like sitting by the mailbox waiting for the carrier to come. I know. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. People's response or reactions are so surprising sometimes, you know, but wow. I mean, it's interesting. Cause now like what you know about this man,

22:02

I'm sure this is, you know, created an opinion for you, like how you feel about him or the type of person that he is. And you know, similar situation for Kendall. You know, it's been five plus years since his, he found out, you know, that his birth mother's still alive and he's been in contact with that side of the family, but not her. And Kendall has definitely formed a strong opinion about his birth mother, despite the fact that they've never, you know, said hello to each other.

22:32

go on and on and say, you know, I'm not usually like this type of person and I feel so bad and I'm so sorry I put you through all this and it's, you know, the words are, they don't really mean anything because then what you did following just doesn't, they're not the same. So that stuff outweighs all these things that you tried to apologize for. I mean, I mentioned that we haven't spoken in about a year. The last time we spoke, I was in the

23:01

I thought I was having a heart attack and fun fact, the new health history from him, my grandma, so his mother died of an aortic aneurysm and I also had preeclampsia. That's all cardiac related. So I'm freaking out thinking, oh my gosh, I'm going to die. So I go to the hospital. It turned out to be, oh, I can't even remember, costicocondritis. It's inflammation around the heart.

23:28

that mimics the pain of a heart attack, but it's not a heart attack. So I checked out, but I checked out okay. But I emailed him just to mention it, and it took him three weeks to get back to me when I was in the freaking hospital. Oh, Colleen, wow. Wow. So, you know, earlier this season, we had some of the wonderful women from High Wrath Hope and Healing on for a two-part episode. Amazing organization.

23:57

great people they were so fun to talk to. And that's kind of, that's how we found you. So, you know, everybody, when they're going through this, it's different for everybody, the healing process, but can you talk a little bit about, I mean, what you do with that trauma, how you started healing, you know, you seem very, you know, well adjusted. Yeah, well, yeah, you seem very cool today. So like, can you talk a little bit about that? It's been a process. It's been a process. So yeah, it'll be almost three years, but you know, after I found out,

24:26

I was, the first month I was totally lost. I don't even know how I made it through that first month. But during that month I was just Googling like, your dad isn't your dad, what is this? Because you don't know the name for it. And then I found the term NPE, not parent expected or non-paternal event. Some people use MPE, but I generally use N. Misattributed Parentage Experiences, MPE.

24:55

So I found the terms and then you go to Facebook because you're like, I don't know anybody this has ever happened to before. So I connected with Erin and everybody who runs HiRith and there's both an NPE group and an adoptee group. So I picked the NPE group, of course. And I started going on Zooms. We do at least two Zooms a week, unless there's.

25:21

barring circumstances, but I just started going on and the first couple sessions, I just basically cried the entire time. But you're talking to people that understand, you don't get the comments of, well, this doesn't really change anything, or this can't be that bad, or, oh, you get new family, that must be just a really positive experience. I mean, sometimes people end up with positive experiences, but in my case, it was not the case. So finding the group of people was

25:51

invaluable and then I eventually went to an in-person retreat because I had never met these people and I talked to them every single day, at least twice a week on the Zooms. But you know, we're messaging in the groups, I have chats with some people going and it was so nice to actually just be in a room of people who got it and then actually having the chance to have therapeutic sessions with people. I've been in therapy several times.

26:20

it's not always the great fit. Like this last therapist I ended up leaving, we'd had a pretty good relationship. It had been almost a year of therapy. There were a couple things she didn't understand about the NPE experience, but I knew I had to end it when, I don't know how it came up, but somehow adoption came up in the conversation. I wasn't talking about me, but it came up somehow. And she looked at me and said, adoption isn't drama. I was like, wow.

26:50

If you don't understand that part, which I feel like is more well known sometimes than the MPE experience, if you don't understand that that's hard for some people, you're not going to understand really what's happening within me. So that was hard. But then at Retreat, I don't have to deal with that. These people are screened and trained and a lot of them are MPEs or adoptees or LDAs. They're in our group. So

27:18

I look forward to the retreats. They're better than my therapy. I've tried it. I know it works for some people, but sometimes the things that come out of therapist's mouths are just not, they're not helpful and they're not correct. And they just sometimes do more damage. Right. And I mean, and with the amount of people, you know, 40 million people have done DNA tests now. So with the amount of these surprises coming out, people and, you know, a therapist to be.

27:47

need to be focusing on this too because, you know, it's a traumatic experience for everybody that's been through it. And, you know, not just the NPEs, but, you know, I'm sure your husband's had, you know, has had some trauma related to this too because it's just, you know, how could he not? You know, because you're experiencing it and, you know, so he's experiencing it as well. You know, it's... Yeah. And so, yeah, thank goodness there are organizations out there like Hi-Rith.

28:16

But yeah, I mean, this is not a situation that's going to shrink. It's growing, you know, daily. Yeah, I help admin the MPE group. And so I take care of some of the new ads. So I see people as they come in. We get people sometimes on the first day that they find out and they have found us. And that's amazing because sometimes people don't know where to look or aren't ready to look and they come much later. And it's great whenever people come in,

28:46

to start at the beginning when you're the most out of your body is helpful, especially when you're doing it with other people. So you're not feeling, you don't get to quite of a dark place. I mean, it's still dark, but when other people are with you, it's easier to come out of that. So I'm really trying to get Kendall to go to one of these retreats. And I want to. It's just, yeah. You know, figuring out the logistics and everything. But what is your, as someone who's been to one.

29:15

What's your elevator pitch to convince him? He needs to go. No, you don't need to do that. I get it. The logistics is hard. I totally understand that, because I do have a five-year-old, and so I'm a stay-at-home mom and a homeschool mom, so when I am not here, that's a big deal. Sure. But I've gone to at least four retreats now, so for me, who never leaves this bubble, to leave means...

29:44

It's everything to me. So if you can figure out logistics, I really recommend it. Yeah. No, I mean I We're by the way listeners. We are not you know being paid by high-rated, too you know, I mean I really I agree with Corey wholeheartedly both of you that it's value seems immeasurable because I you know on the whole have had a really good experience finding my

30:12

biological family, but I definitely harbor, you know, some because of my birth mother's in my situation, I have some resentment and only now, you know, I want, if she's listening to this, I think by this point, she should know that I have no resentment associated with, you know, 1970, when she had to give me up. It has nothing to do with that. I had a great life with my adoptive family and nothing to do with that. It's the way that

30:41

I feel that she's treated me in the last five years. The after. Yeah, exactly. Like there's, in my opinion, there's no excuse for it. None. Yeah, and I mean, Kendall is a very smart, well-rounded person. And like he said, it's been a mostly good experience, you know, for us, but the trauma is still there. It's still real. Oh yeah. And so it's like, you know, you think about people who haven't had the good stuff to go with the bad stuff. It's like...

31:09

oh wow, you know, and that's just, it's been really eye-opening. You know, we've been doing this podcast for almost a year now, and it's just, you know, it's continually surprising. I mean, you know, my jaw's dropped several times during just talking to you, Colleen, just some of the things that you've revealed because it's just like, oh man. You know, it's like we can relate and sympathize and empathize and it's, you know, but yeah, the trauma is very real, you know, for folks. Yeah.

31:36

And what do you do with that, right? That's, I think that's what Hiroth and, you know, those journeys can help with, you know, I don't wanna feel the way I feel about, you know, toward my birth mother, but, and maybe that's why, you know, part of the reason that we started this podcast is, you know, she might never hear it, but if she did, that would be.

32:05

beautiful, I think, because I want her to understand that, you know, I don't need anything from her. I just wanted to say hello, by the way, you know, I'm your kid. That's it. That's all I need. In my last email, I actually emailed him maybe four weeks ago, my biological father, and it was something, we do a book club with Hirath, and one of the things...

32:30

that we were reading in the book hit me so hard. She was talking about her biological father's eyes, the color of them. I couldn't remember his eyes. And I tried everything, you know, photos and everything, so grainy. I tried thinking of like the two hours I had with him. I tried everything and I couldn't figure it out. And I was like, well, I'm gonna have to email him. I really don't want to. And in the email, I slid in there, you know, most days I'm fine.

32:56

I've done a lot of things to get through this. Heck, I've even done a podcast. So in my mind, I'm like, just Google the thing. Just Google it and listen, because you're not getting it up to this point. And maybe if it's just not a back and forth and you're just listening it, maybe you'll just get it in your head. Maybe like 1% of what's been happening. Maybe. Yeah. And you know, who knows? Maybe, maybe that'll be the light bulb. You know, that, oh wow.

33:27

I mean, that's certainly what we hope for with Kendall's birth mother. You know, I mean, we know that she's aware of the podcast. I don't know if she's listened or not, you know, but you know, if she does, it's like, okay, well, here are all these people who are, you know, have had these experiences. And most of the episodes have been like people, you know, positive experiences for folks, because I think it's harder for people to talk about the negative experiences. So thank you for doing that.

33:54

But yeah, we're hopeful. What is it gonna be? What's that aha moment going to be? Before it's too late. Right. I don't have it now, but for the first six months after I discovered my biological family, I had this recurring nightmare that my biological mother and I had never spoken and something happened to one of us. Where...

34:21

You know, that's such a horrible, morbid thought, but it's like, you know, I'd hate for her to pass away or for me to pass away. And neither of us have ever spoken to the other. It just seems bizarre and surreal. That's why I was so, I wanted to get on board with talking with everybody as soon as possible. Cause I know that there's, you know, I, some of my family members have died relatively younger and, you know, just living with that of there might, you don't know how much time you have.

34:51

I wanted to make every effort on my end at least of, you know, I tried. It won't be my fault if he dies and he's still a jerk. I've tried it all. Where are you now with what you're going to eventually tell your daughter about the lineage? That is going to be interesting. We've had, so she's five, so we're slowly, sometimes she'll ask questions, but we haven't had a full on discussion because I don't think age appropriate she's there yet. But um.

35:20

She has asked questions, so she's very curly hair. And one of her questions was, mommy, you don't have curly hair. Where does the curly hair come from? And so, I've used that as an opening. Oh, your daddy, my husband, that's where you get that from. Sometimes their parents, we have different things that pass on. And she'll mention, she's gotten the concept of her grandparents on my husband's side, those are his parents and my parents are that. And I've tried to mention,

35:49

I have two dads. I've used different languages. You know, I'm not sure that she totally understands it, but when we get into more of the, especially with homeschooling, when we get into more of the like social studies, build your family tree, what's your ethnicity, I think that's gonna be a way for me to do it in a way that she might understand. Because I do want her, I don't want her to think that

36:20

The dad who raised me isn't important. I want her to know that like he is my dad, but there is another Especially with health history. There is another layer that you do need to know We can't just explain that away. I mean I don't foresee him my biological father ever having a relationship with her ever unless he Has a major aha moment, but even if they never speak I do want her to be aware of him

36:49

It's just a matter of, this is so complicated and without him being there, how do I explain who he is in relation to me, in relation to her? Right, right. Yeah, but to your point, I think it's helpful and useful for her to know about him as she gets older, right? Like as she, you know, just from, even from the just the health perspective, you know, it's, I've learned some things that, you know, I'm already

37:19

addressing, you know, just because I never knew that I should be watching for skin cancer, just like that's an example. And it's rampant in my father's family. And now I'm seeing like, I'll see the tiniest spot. And it makes me that much more hyper aware, you know, of, oh, okay, I have to watch this and be certain that it's you know, because

37:42

Absolutely. I didn't protect my skin when I was younger and I should have and you know, maybe that's gonna haunt me now So like but there's are important things, you know that people need to be aware of And it goes both ways right things that you should be looking out for and then maybe other things that used to be in your You know your health history, but aren't so I I was always very concerned with breast cancer because my My grandmother so my dad who raised me his mom died of

38:11

breast cancer, but that's not, I'm not really at high risk because nobody on my paternal side and nobody on my maternal side has that. So I could have been, could have been doing all these extra tests and screenings and you know, a lot of time worried about something that's not necessarily a higher risk for me. Right. Yeah. That worry. I mean, that alone is, you know, that, that has a lot of magnitude. I think, um, wow.

38:37

So before this discovery, you mentioned that you were the family genealogist. Has this experience changed your opinion about genealogy or are you still very avid? I love it. It's still, if anything, it's accelerated it even more because like I said, I had this massive tree and then surprise, half of it's not actually, I mean, it relates to me because my dad is still important to me and my sister is like, the information applies to her, but

39:08

to build a whole new tree. So I've become probably even more obsessive than before with that. But also I just really more fully appreciate genealogy and DNA results because I know the truth that it can bring people. You know, the health history, knowing where I came from, having a new culture.

39:34

I was supposed to be Irish, like very Irish. That's why they picked my first name Colleen. But I'm actually Rusyn. It's not Russian, but it's from, by like Poland, Ukraine. It's this area that's never been their own country, but it's Eastern European. So that never really used to be, my mom was Polish before, but I didn't know that I'm very, very, very German, like insanely German.

40:02

and in Rusyn. So without the DNA, I would have just been going on thinking, oh yeah, I'm really Irish and let's go celebrate St. Patrick's Day. And now I avoid St. Patrick's Day like the plague. We did fish tacos last night for St. Patrick's Day. You just avoid it. Yeah. No, I get it. Wow. Well, and how exciting to learn something, you know, because when I saw your reference to Rusyn before.

40:31

I looked it up and I'm like, for me, that was a little known ethnic group. I knew nothing about it. It was this big surprise. Yeah, and how, I don't know, it's quite unique to be part of that. And so, yeah. It is. It's wonderful. I am, how I found out about it, because I mean, even on the ancestry breakdown, it doesn't do that. It does German and Poland and all this. So I had been on Find a Grave,

41:01

my some of my grandparents and great grandparents on my paternal side, I left flowers for them. And somebody who operated the memorial was like, I saw that you left flowers. Who are you in relation to this person? And so I kind of gave a short spiel. He's a distant cousin.

41:24

You're rousin'. I can give you all these pictures. And he connected me to all these Facebook groups that I didn't even know were a thing, because I didn't know the terms. So he opened up this whole new world for me. And I find that the more distant cousins are more helpful because they're not right on top of you in the thick of, especially if they're affairs, it's just people don't wanna get involved with that. So he was awesome. I think we're like,

41:52

Third or fourth cousins once removed. We're not close, but it's really cool. That's amazing. Yeah. Nice. I mean, there's definitely some positivity that has come out of this. There is, just not with the biological father and the siblings, half siblings. Right, right. And that might change, you know? As everyone gets older, they might, you know, realize what they're missing. That's my hope for everybody.

42:22

Yeah, I'm hoping that that's what happens. But even if it doesn't, I at least want to be aware of like if somebody, if he were to die, right? Nobody's going to probably tell me about the funeral. So I'm Googling like every other day, you know, obituaries. Is anybody died that I don't know about yet? And that's weird because you feel like your dad or at least biologically, you feel like you should know when that happens. But.

42:51

That's just how I have to do it. Yep. Yeah. Wow. And I know I'll know when my biological mother dies, but I don't know that anybody would make, convince me that I'd be welcome to be there. You know what I'm saying? Like, I don't know that I feel comfortable at this moment being there for any kind of service. So, you know, that is weird in itself too. Like it just feels like something that should be so, that is so natural to other people.

43:21

You know, that it's just gonna be unique. It shouldn't be this hard. No. It really shouldn't. Exactly. Like, you and I didn't do any, we had no control over, you know, how we were made. It's just, it's bizarre to me that, I think that I was, no, I know I was completely delusional about that. Like I never dreamt that this is where I'd be in my journey five years in. Never in a hundred years.

43:51

Did I think that I'd be part of a family that wanted to be so secretive about, you know, something that happened almost 53 years ago. You know what I mean? It's like, when, when is it okay to talk about? But, oh well.

44:09

Well, we will continue to send out the positive vibes that for you and for the others out there that something turns, something that there's a rainbow at the end of the well. We won't say the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow since you're not Irish. There we go. Corey is Irish. Yeah, it's funny. I thought I was completely German and come to find out that very little German and actually more Irish than...

44:38

than Kendall is. I know, which is, yeah. Which is why I'm- My daughter is actually Irish, so my husband and my daughter are Irish. Turns out I'm the one that's just not. I know. But you have the name. There you go. Right, yeah. Well, the name, the last name's funny because it's been changed a little bit, my married name, but it's very, very German. So actually my married last name suits me better than my maiden name would have. All I had to do was get married to somebody who was supposed to be really German.

45:07

I'm more German than he is, so it all worked out. It's bizarre, isn't it? Yeah, it's very funny how these things turn out. Yeah. Well, Colleen, thank you so much for sharing your story. I think it's going to be helpful for those out there who are super early in their journey or not, who are still dealing with the trauma. I think, as you know, just talking to people who have had similar experiences is healing. So thank you.

45:37

Thank you so much. Having just a platform to talk about it with people who understand and don't give you those platitudes is helpful in of itself. So I'm just happy I was able to speak with you guys and I'm excited to hear about people's thoughts listening to it. Family Twist features original music from Cosmic Afterthoughts and is presented by Savoir

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