DEAR ABBY: My twin sister and I were raised by a single mom. Because Mom received welfare benefits, she was required to list "potential" fathers in order to receive aid. After a time, the state required paternity tests be given to the men she had listed, so we had no idea who our biological father was until we were 16.
Although paternity was proven, he never attempted to contact us. I recently learned that he died several years ago at a relatively young age (mid-50s). I also discovered that he had at least two other children, one of whom I was able to locate on Facebook.
I don't want to cause any undue distress by reaching out to them. However, I'm curious about any historical information they could provide, particularly medical or hereditary issues I should know about. All of a sudden I have this overwhelming need for information, especially now that I have a child.
Should I try and contact my half-siblings, or let it go and hope there's nothing there to find out? I don't want to hurt anyone, but I feel I just have to know. -- NEEDS TO KNOW
DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: The revelation that you and your sister exist may come as a shock to your half-siblings, so be prepared. Ideally, the way to go about asking for the information you're seeking would be through an intermediary such as a lawyer. However, if you can't afford one, then write a letter explaining who you are and that you are a parent and would like any information that can be provided about any genetic illnesses that run in your father's side of the family, including his cause of death. While you're at it, be sure to mention that you are not trying to intrude -- only to find information that may be pertinent to you, your twin sister and your child.