Dinah Federer


You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Margery Williams Bianco – The Velveteen Rabbit…

Coming out of the proverbial closet is big work, on so many levels. For over 20 years only my husband and a few close friends knew what I knew of my own history….which wasn’t much.

I felt somehow branded, as though my own truth couldn’t be discussed in polite company. Even last year, I observed myself whispering the word “affair” when I was explaining to someone about why I’m learning about being half Jewish so late in life. As I was doing it, some part of my brain screamed “WHY ARE YOU WHISPERING?” And that’s when I realized that I was carrying considerable shame for being the product of an affair.

It has taken time and significant effort to accept that…

I learned in 1980, when I was 17, that I was probably the result of an affair. There were no DNA tests to turn to. I just had to live within that ambiguity for 35+ years… Maybe my dad was my biological father, maybe not. Nobody talked about it. Coping was solely my responsibility. For years I was worried that talking about it was somehow disrespectful of the dad that raised me. I’ve only recently realized that my story is mine. I own it and I can do whatever I want with it. And it’s not disrespectful of anyone if/when I share it.

I’m not sharing this information for attention or to embarrass or to get revenge on anyone. I’m sharing my story to remove stigma. No one should carry shame over their origin. And I’m sharing my story to educate people. Nobody should be treated like a criminal or interloper for pursuing their own truth.

If we’re lucky, regardless of where we may find ourselves in an NPE/MPE scenario, we’re met with openness and respect.

Up until recently, our origin stories were completely dependent upon our parents or relatives. Maybe the truth was shared, maybe it wasn’t. But affordable DNA testing has changed all of this! More and more people are finding out every day that their origin story is very different from what they believed it to be. And frankly… It can be quite upending.

When you find out that half of your origin is a mystery and that your spoken truth could impact people you’ve never even met, you/I wonder what is fair to share and what isn’t.

With the ever-increasing popularity of DNA testing, you or someone you love could find yourself in this position. Or, on the flip side, you could be contacted by someone who has just discovered their genetic truth and they are asking you for information about your family….because they are now part of it.

Since I’m the one in search of my genetic truth, I can’t begin to imagine the probable shock that comes when an NPE/MPE contacts a new and unsuspecting family member. But I can ask you to breathe deeply and to be kind. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

If you perhaps hear about a situation like this from a friend at work during lunch… Please share this message with them. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

Please remember that their situation and need for information is not their fault. They aren’t trying to upset you or your family. They’ve discovered that they know nothing about half or all of their biology and their relatives and their history. Their personal origin story has been shattered. Their foundation has, for many, collapsed. They’re clawing for solid ground. Please don’t add to their trauma by being mean or angry or by withholding information from them. Please be kind.

We NPE/MPEs are looking for information and we’re trying to rebuild our personal stories. We want and need and deserve to know our medical history. We want to know what our parent looks like…Do we look like them? Many of us felt like we just didn’t fit in with our family of origin. Do we take after that missing parent? And what about grandparents? What were they like?

I found out I’m half Jewish. I’ve not only missed out on all of the above. I’ve missed out on a rich and ancient culture. Many of us feel cheated out of our heritage. We’re trying to catch up. Please help us. We are not the enemy.

My new family is not open to sharing information with me at this time. Over two years into my DNA confirmation and I still don’t know much of anything about my biological father, grandparents, or ancestry. I hope that changes.

All I know is that I’m half Jewish. I have 4 half-siblings that I’ve never met. And I continue to have a strong desire to know about my paternal family, history, and culture. Whether I get my personal closure or not, I will continue to advocate for understanding between seekers and their new families.

I remain a living, breathing question mark. And, like the Velveteen Rabbit, I’m becoming!

Please feel free to visit my blog at: https://withangelsandelephants.com/about/