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'A DNA test revealed my dad isn't my biological father. He has no idea.'

As told to Ann DeGrey

My parents were both diagnosed with dementia within a year of each other. Dad's decline was slow but steady, while Mum's seemed to happen overnight. Watching them slip away was heartbreaking, and I did my best to support them through the dreadful fog that was slowly clouding their minds.

I'd always been very close to my parents. They loved me very much and Mum, in particular, guided me through life’s challenges with her gentle wisdom. They both instilled in me a deep sense of loyalty and love, and I always knew I could count on them for support.

The first signs of Dad's dementia appeared quite suddenly. He lost his car for two weeks and couldn't remember that he'd left it outside the post office. Then he started forgetting coffee catchups with his younger brother and struggled to follow conversations. He loved cooking and when he left the stove on overnight, we knew something was wrong.

Mum was a rock through Dad's decline, but soon, she started showing signs too. She began repeating herself, misplacing her keys, and confusing names — she called me by the name of my sister who'd died as a baby. One afternoon, she called me in tears because she couldn't remember the way home from the supermarket. 

It was around this time that I decided to research our family history. I wanted to preserve as much as I could before memories disappeared completely. So, I took a DNA test, hoping it would help fill in the blanks and maybe find some distant relatives who could share stories and photos.

When my results came back, I was excited, but that feeling quickly turned to confusion and then a bit of shock. According to my DNA results and matches, there was no possible way my dad was my biological father.

Watch: Mamamia Confessions: My partner doesn't know. Post continues after video.

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I read the results, comparing them with the DNA tests my parents had taken years ago for a genealogy project. I didn't see a single match that connected my dad to me biologically. It was like a punch in the gut, I just couldn't believe it.

I spent several days in denial, looking for mistakes or ways the results could be wrong. I even went to the expense of having a second DNA test, but the results came back the same. And it all pointed to the same conclusion — the man who had raised me, the man I had called 'Dad' my whole life, wasn't my biological father.

Mum and Dad were both in their early 80s. Even on a good day, their memories were foggy at best. I knew I couldn't confront them about this. What would be the point? It would only cause confusion and pain, at a time when they needed stability and care.

But I was insanely curious; who was my biological father? Did he know about me? Did my mum know all these years? Did she keep this secret from Dad? So many questions swirled in my head, and I knew I couldn't ignore them.

I didn't know where to begin at first, but my DNA matches provided some clues. There were several second and third cousins whose names I didn't recognise. I started reaching out to them one by one, careful not to reveal too much at first. I didn't want to cause any dramas. 

Some were receptive, others not so much, but eventually, I connected with a cousin who suggested I reach out to my mother’s second cousin Jenny, saying that the two women had been friends for much of their youth.  

Jenny, who was in her late 70s was happy to talk to me and she listened patiently as I explained my situation. There was a pause on the other end of the line before she said, "Well, I can’t say for sure, but there was a man your mother was in love with many years ago."

When I asked for more information, she said, "I don't know if there was an affair, but your mum did care deeply for him. His name was Andrew. They were quite close before she met your dad."

Jenny said she didn't know much more beyond that. "He moved away shortly after your mum married your dad," she said.

That conversation left me with more questions than answers. Who was Andrew? Where did he go, and does he even know I exist? It was very frustrating to have a bit of excitement about this news, but no more information to go off. 

For now, as my parents go further downhill, I’m slowly continuing my search. I've gone through old family photo albums, and every time I see photos of myself as a child with my father, I cry. I love him very much so the thought that he is not my biological father is just awful for me.  

I’m still reaching out to every distant cousin I can find in hopes of uncovering a lead. At least I have a name but, what if this Andrew from my mum’s past is long dead? Or maybe he is not my biological father either. It feels like I’m grasping at straws, but I'm determined to get to the bottom of it, one way or another.

My dad will always be my dad, but I would like to know where I came from, for myself. 

Feature Image: Canva.

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