That's the future though, whether you like it or not everyone's DNA will be public.
Yes, I have nothing to hide, and they already did it with GEDmatch. Lots of FTDNA customers have already submitted their DNA to them, myself included. It's just that today's version of the FBI creeps me out.
“I finally got the answer that wasn’t supplied to me by people who loved me and who I loved,” he said.
Growing up, his cousins teased him about the light color of his skin, calling him “white boy,” he said. An only child, he frequently asked his mother about his origins. “Don’t worry about it,” he says she told him. He stopped asking when he was a teenager; his mother died decades ago.
“I was still curious, but no one would tell me,” he said. “Emotionally, you wish it could have been another way, but unfortunately, it isn’t.” Dana's Discovery Dana's mother, Louise, never answered his questions about his origins.
In the months since they met, the sisters and Mr. Dolvin, and members of their families, have met for dinners and outings. During a visit in Boston, Ms. Lawson took Mr. Dolvin around the neighborhood where she grew up, pointing out family landmarks. He refers to both women as his sisters, even though he shares a biological father with only one.
So far, the sisters’ other two siblings, both men, haven’t expressed interest in meeting Mr. Dolvin. Phil Hurwitz, 63, who was born six months before Mr. Dolvin, said he remains unsure “how I want to move forward.”
Ms. Lawson got upset with her brother Phil for not reaching out to Mr. Dolvin. She asked him when he might feel ready.
“I told her I am not putting a time frame on it,” he said. Their other brother didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Dolvin said he doesn’t think it is his place to contact the two brothers. He said he would let them decide “if they want to welcome me or say ‘hi’…” His voice trailed off for a moment.
“Maybe they don’t feel comfortable with it yet. It’s a lot to take in.” The first day Dana Dolvin met Ms. Hurwitz and Ms. Lawson in Falls Church, Va. The first day Dana Dolvin met Ms. Hurwitz and Ms. Lawson in Falls Church, Va. Photo: Hurwitz family
Ms. Hurwitz said the news that both parents had children from extramarital affairs forced a kind of reckoning she wasn’t sure her brothers were ready to make.
“They have to reconsider completely who their parents were, the lessons they taught us, what they stood for,” she said. “Everyone deals with the emotions differently.”
She looked at her sister, who cried quietly at the table. “It is not up to me to judge the decisions Mom and Dad made,” Ms. Hurwitz said. “It was another world and another time.”
Ms. Lawson said, “I have a hard time when people say it’s the past, move on.”
Mr. Dolvin put his arm around her, comforting her. “I like that we are all together. I’m here. I’m sitting with you.”
There are many unresolved and hard-to-answer questions, such as whether their father was ever told Mr. Dolvin was his son. They don’t think their father knew. “I believe if he knew about Dana, he would have tried to reach out,” Ms. Hurwitz said.
Her father owned a popular kosher deli in a Boston neighborhood. Mr. Dolvin’s mother worked as a cosmetologist in a nearby predominantly African-American neighborhood. Both loved jazz; the siblings speculate the two might have met at one of Boston’s jazz clubs.
The sisters believe their mother knew Ms. Lawson was the product of her own affair. Ms. Lawson and her mother had a difficult relationship, and both sisters think the revelation explains why.
“Julie was a reminder of what Mom did,” Ms. Hurwitz says. “She had to deal with the consequences every day. How did she keep the secret from Dad?”
Both sisters acknowledge they also can’t be sure what either parent shared with the other.
When Ms. Lawson was 29 and Ms. Hurwitz was 16, their parents divorced—and then got remarried nine years later. They stayed together until he died in 2006. His wife died in 2016. The Expanded Family
Ms. Lawson says she told her mother she got DNA test results back, but her mother wasn’t interested in talking about them. She died before the second sister took the test whose results revealed so much.
The sisters always return to how much their parents should have told them. Even now, hurt and tensions sometimes flare.
“I understand why you wouldn’t tell,” said Ms. Hurwitz. “The implications of revealing the secret have a domino effect on everyone else in the family.”
Her sister vehemently disagrees. “Every man has a right to know he has offspring,” said Ms. Lawson. “Every child has the right to know her origins. We missed 65 years together.”
Ms. Lawson wears a birthday present she received from Mr. Greenberg, a necklace of two open hearts connected by her birthstone. She is helping plan a party for his 90th birthday in March.
Since the sisters learned the truth, they said they are learning to live with the uncertainties. “I have my anger, my compassion, and my understanding, and I can separate all those emotions,” Ms. Lawson said.
Ms. Hurwitz leaned in closer to her sister. “Every family has secrets,” she said.
—Photo collages created with family photos provided by Julie Lawson, Fredda Hurwitz, and Dana Dolvin.
If you have stories about genetic testing you would like to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please write to Amy Dockser Marcus at [email protected]
Another poignant journey of discovery. Thanks for passing this on to me, Leon. The ending was a bit abrupt, sort of like the article was cut off. Nothing like this has ever happened so far in my nuclear family, but in my extended family I was caught in the middle of a story that went all the way back to WWI. I had gotten a distant cousin tested, so I was responsible for opening this tragic can of worms. My distant cousin didn't bat an eye or lose any sleep over it. It took two months of daily researching with the woman at the other end, who had spent 28 years looking for answers. She got them and much more information. It was the most stressful event in all my years as a hobby genealogist.