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Dilemma: I might not be my father's biological child

Katharine Whitehorn / 03 March 2016

A reader is devastated to find that she might not be her father's biological daughter and writes to agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn for advice.

Paper cutout family representing a fragile family unit
A reader discovers that her family has been keeping a secret from her

Dilmma: questioning my parentage

Some years ago my mother told my sister that my dad did not think I was his child, unfortunately my sister told me and you can imagine how shocked and upset I was. 

When I thought about it, things started to fall into place: I am six years older than my sister but from childhood we were never treated the same. She was always the favourite, and it caused many secret tears when I was young. 

Now I am in my seventies and before I’m not here any more I need to know if it could be true. 

I have heard that hair and eye colour is a good indication if you belong to the same family. I am the only one with blonde hair and blue eyes, the rest of the family and people in old photographs are all dark-haired. 

If my dad was somebody else I will understand that there was a reason why I was treated differently and it was not my fault. Is the information about colours correct?

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

Colouring, I’m afraid, only establishes a probability, not a certainty; both my children had the same father but only one had red hair. I had an uncle, too, in an otherwise dark-haired family who looked like his father but had an inexplicably red moustache. 

The only way to be certain would be a DNA test with your sister, and you say you don’t want her to know you worry about this. 

It might help to talk it all over with a counsellor; which you can find through Relate.

Read Katharine Whitehorn on what she has learnt from years of reading about family secrets.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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