Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse always wondered why he was so different from the other members of his family. He became interested in science at a young age, despite coming from parents who did not share that interest. It wasn’t until he became an adult that he accidentally discovered an interesting truth about his family. The person whom he grew up calling his sister was actually his biological mother.
As an adult, his work focuses on trying to understand more about the role played by a person’s DNA. He wanted to know more about his own genetic code, because he felt so different from his own family. Even though he is an expert in the field of genetics, his own family was able to keep the secret about who his mother truly was from him for decades.
The accidental discovery happened when he applied to the United States Department of Homeland Security, in an effort to get a green card so he could become a permanent resident of America. He was turned down because of an error that appeared on the short form of his birth certificate. The names of his parents were missing from the form. The full version of his birth certificate provided information that he never expected to see.
In the space on the birth certificate where his mother’s name should be recorded, he found the name of his sister, Miriam. In the space provided for the name of his father, there was nothing except for a dashed line. At first, he thought he was looking at a bureaucratic error of some kind. It was his wife who suggested that the information was saying that the people he was raised by, and thought of as his parents, were actually his grandparents.
Unfortunately, when this discovery was made, both his mother and his sister were already deceased. For more information, he turned to the daughter of his great-aunt. His birth certificate said he was born in the home of his great-aunt, and her daughter was able to confirm that his sister, Miriam, was actually his biological mother. Miriam became pregnant in 1948, when she was 18 years old. She was sent away to give birth, and the family was sworn to secrecy. When she returned home with her son, her parents raised him as their own, in order to spare Miriam the shame society would have placed upon her as an unwed mother. It’s a rather amazing case of adoption, where he was able to live with and get to know his biological mother, without ever realizing it.< Return To Blog