real life

"That time I found out I had a secret half-brother".






Last September, I discovered I had a secret half-brother.

He is in his early 40s. He is married, with two young boys. He happens to have the same first name as my boyfriend. And he lives in the same city as me.

There. I’ve said it. It feels like I’ve got a weight off my chest, even though I’m remaining anonymous here. Because over the past year, I’ve barely told a soul.

My half-brother is the result of a relationship my father had with a woman before he met and married my mum.

The woman was separated from her husband, and it was a planned pregnancy. Yet one day, without any warning, she just up and left my dad, and went back to her husband.

As a final insult, she named my father’s son after her husband, cut off all contact, told everyone it was her husband’s child, and moved on with her life.

My dad only got to see his son once, when my half-brother was a little boy. And until recently, my half-brother had no idea about my dad.

He was raised believing that his mother’s husband was his biological father. I can’t begin to imagine how it must have felt for him to learn that his parents had deceived him for four decades. He must have felt like his whole life had been a lie. He must now be questioning everything.


My mother also had no clue. Nor did anyone from my father’s side of the family, or any of his friends. He never said a word. Until last year, when he finally felt the need to tell us all. That was a fun conversation.

At first, I was holding out hope that it was a mistake, that my dad would not turn out to be my half-brother’s biological father after all. But then, after a few months of sporadic contact, my dad’s ex sent him a photo album of happy snaps taken over the years.

And after seeing how weirdly similar he looked to my dad, I now know there is no question about it.

In fact, one of the photos of him as a child looked so similar to my sister at the same age that I gasped out loud.

In the first few months after finding out, we knew nothing about our half-brother, besides his first and last name, which were both common. We didn’t know if he would ever find out about us. So my sister and I spent endless amounts of time trawling Facebook, trying to figure out who he was. We came up with elaborate, ridiculous plans, plans involving disguises and road trips and covert missions, to try and track him down. In hindsight, it was probably a way of dealing with the shock, by trying to diffuse the situation with humour.


But now, he knows. His mother finally told him the truth. Apparently, he doesn’t have any interest in contacting my father, or finding out about his half-sisters.

And to be honest, I don’t have any desire to meet him either, or in us being one big happy dysfunctional family. I feel terribly, terribly sorry for him, of course I do. I wish him well, and I hope that this doesn’t affect his relationship with his parents. I hope that it doesn’t affect his relationship with his siblings. But I just can’t feel any sort of connection towards him. Most of the time, it doesn’t feel real.

What I do feel is anger. Anger on behalf of my mum, who has had to deal with this mess in her 60s. Anger on behalf of my dad, who lost his first and only son. And anger on behalf of my half-brother, who has had to find all this out as a grown man in middle age.

So here’s my final message to my half-brother, who I will probably never meet: I’m so sorry this has happened to you. I hope you have a long and happy life. I hope you are a good man, a good husband, and a good father to your own young boys. And I hope you can put this behind you, and find peace with your family.


Editor’s note: the author of this piece is known to Mamamia and has chosen to remain anonymous to avoid any distress to her family. Thank you for your respect of her privacy and your understanding.