I found another second cousin today. On Facebook. On accident. He had replied to a school friend's post, and his surname was familiar, so I asked where he was from and suggested we might be cousins. Turns out our grandparents were siblings.
One of the best things about second cousins is that they are distant enough relations that I can say who my paternal grandparents were and we can establish how we're related without raising any eyebrows. I don't have to tell them my father's name or that he was an anonymous sperm donor. People don't usually expect to know their second cousins, so we say "small world!" and laugh and move on. I've done it before.
And as soon as I wrote that sentence, he messaged me, "Who is your dad? My dad wants to know."
I didn't know what to say. If I told him my father's name, it might get back to my uncle who still lives in the same town, and even though he knows who I am, I don't know how he feels about my existence or my advertising it. If I said, "He was an anonymous sperm donor, but he doesn't like people to know, so keep it quiet," that would raise eyebrows and probably more interest. It would also make me an interloper who doesn't belong in their family, at least in some people's eyes. This is why I don't reach out to my first cousins or my uncles, even though they are the ones with the old photos and the family stories I want. It would be awkward. I would feel like a tattletale or even a liar, claiming the family of a father who won't claim me. I didn't realize how much of a secret I was still keeping with his identity. I have never kept his name secret from friends or advertised it publicly, but today was the first day someone who wasn't a friend asked for it. Even on my Ancestry tree his name is private, and no one has ever asked for it. Today was the first time I had to draw a line.
I didn't respond to my second cousin. Ignoring his question seems rude and I don't like doing it, but I don't know how to respond, so Jerry suggested I just never respond because it will do the least damage. I'm on here posting everything I remember about my mother, but I'm still keeping my father's secret. I feel nauseous.