Letter: Sisters, or not?

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I read your article "I'd never, ever, forgotten her. A family affair" (Private Lives, 14 September), which described how Joseph and Joyce were reunited as brother and sister, with great interest because I, too, at the age of 59, have recently met my natural sister.

When I was a few weeks old I was given away by our parents for adoption. My sister was born 11 years later and only found out about me two years ago. For me, then, the story of Joseph and Joyce was compelling reading. But, like all these tales of lost and found, it was frustrating because these stories never go past the "how we lost each other and the joy now that we have found each other" scenario.

But it is after the finding and meeting that the difficult bit kicks in. What, after all, is the relationship between two sisters who, until their middle age, had never known each other? We searched each other for likenesses and found many. We agreed that we could be the kind of person we'd have had as a friend. But we are not by any means sisters.

I have been brought up with two sisters, sandwiched between my adopted parents' two natural daughters. I know what it is to be a sister and to have sisters. But with this new-found sister we meet as two middle-aged equal adults. Am I her elder sister? Do I want that role? And does she want suddenly to be a younger sister, she who up until now has been a much-loved only child?

And then there is family history. Surely that is what forges brothers and sisters? All that my new-found sister and I share is DNA. We have found each other but how do we move this relationship on? We don't live near each other. We both have our own families, daughters and grandchildren and they don't feel a part of the relationship.

So are we sisters or did we meet only to find that we are not? What does a shared set of blood and genes mean? We look fondly upon each other but we do not know what to do next.

What would your readers do?

MARGARET GOSLEY

Westhouses, Derbyshire

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