Family Secrets and Deceptions

This is nothing about Panama, but it’s been on my mind for a while so I’m putting it out there.

Secrets and deceptions have a way of blowing up a family, or at least causing all sorts of problems. We probably know at least someone or a few people who have stories. I met someone who hadn’t talked to her family in years after she found out her parents weren’t her parents and she had been born to some other relative. She felt like she had been lied to, denied a truth that was known by everyone else, and she couldn’t trust anyone. That’s only one story. I’ve heard a number of others over the years.

Then, along came DNA testing. In the last few years I’ve been hearing many more stories. Someone has a brother they never knew. There are relatives with no connections, or connections to other relatives they never knew about. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’m one of those stories.

Thankfully someone gave my parents the good advice that they should tell me I was adopted before someone else spilled the beans. I knew, and in my 20’s I was able to locate my mother. We have had a happy and friendly relationship ever since. But, she was a high school kid and I was a SECRET, never to be revealed. I knew I had sisters and it was all I could do to honor her wishes and not look for them.

Then, DNA! That was legal, right? I just wanted to know my heritage and nationality (overwhelmingly English, who knew?) If I connected with family that was just an accident, right? 🤥 First I connected with a cousin, and then one of my sisters. By then it was obvious that the secret was half out of the bag, and my mother went ahead and told my other two sisters. It’s worked out better than I ever dared dream, and my sisters are loving and welcoming. I also have a large extended family that I’m getting to know little by little.

Now someone else on the other side of the family got DNA results and learned that her father is not her father. Needless to say she is reeling and trying to process this news. The good news is that her new father and his family are very excited and looking forward to meeting her. I’m very glad that I could talk with her since I have recently gone through a similar experience. Yes it’s exciting but also scary. Who are these new people? Will I like them? Will they like me? Are they psychos? ha! Will they want more from me than I can give, or will I want more from them than they can give? Who knew about this and kept it from me? Who can I trust? Whose version of “the truth” is closest to the actual truth, if there is even such a thing. So, if he’s my father, my siblings are now my half siblings? How do they feel about that? Everyone has feelings and the person is in the middle of all this while also sorting out their own feelings. It’s a lot.

Advice from me, for what it’s worth ($.02), get the secrets out of the closet asap, or better yet don’t even put them in the closet. People will probably be more understanding than you think and if they aren’t, do you really need them?

In other news, it feels like summer has returned. It’s very hot, sunny, and windy but we have had enough rain to raise the humidity which makes it feel worse. Even the whistling bugs of summer were whistling last night. Panamanians who have lived here their whole lives say this is very unusual. Some say some of the problem is El Niño which is warming the oceans and causing more heat.

Another interesting thing – there was drama in the (all Panamanian) neighborhood WhatsApp group. I’ve been a member for many years and this is the first time I’ve seen such a thing. Someone was complaining that our neighborhood park is a mess, money had been allocated but why isn’t everything done and looking perfect, etc. etc. Messages were flying fast and furious for a couple days. I’ve been on social media and forums for ages so this was very interesting to see. I was so impressed with the curtesy, kindness, and loving ways Panamanians have to tell someone to back off and settle down. If only the rest of social media went like this it would be a different world.

In personal news, I’m happy to say that my mother left the hospital soon after we left Oklahoma and she is doing much, much better. We are rested and recovered from our colds, the car is in working condition again, and having last weekend off couldn’t have come at a better time. So, all is well in our little world, and we certainly can’t complain about being cold. 😁


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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4 Responses to Family Secrets and Deceptions

  1. Anonymous says:

    It has certainly been a roller coaster of wondering for you Kris, but all you saw as you learned more about your family was good things. You eagerly embraced the unveiling of old secrets with the excitement of a 4 year old at Christmas, and chose only to look for the good in the addition of new-to-you family. YOU made/are making the most if it, and not just you, your sisters too. You may only now be discovering characteristics of each other, but from what I’ve heard, you all possess a deep appreciation for each other. The world needs more people that appreciate others, family or not.❤️


    • It happens that “found” family members may not want contact, or may not have enough in common to build a relationship. I think my sisters and I all realize how fortunate we are, that we really like each other and are happy to finally be together!


  2. Sharon says:

    Thank you for having the courage to share these stories. Perhaps you will help others reevaluate the perceived benefits of keeping their family secrets. The truth has a way of coming out eventually. It can be embarrassing and even painful. But it seems the sooner people know the facts, the sooner they can start to digest and deal with the reality, whatever that may be.


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