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The Most Jaw-Dropping Family Secrets Finally Unveiled

MJ Staff March 17, 2023

Family secrets are a part of many families, hidden away and passed down from generation to generation. But what happens when those secrets are finally revealed? The truth can be liberating, but it can also be shocking and even devastating. In this article, we explore some of the most jaw-dropping family secrets that have finally been unveiled, from long-hidden affairs to shocking discoveries of hidden identities. These true stories from real people will leave you stunned and perhaps make you wonder what secrets your own family may be hiding. As the saying goes, “the truth will set you free,” and in the case of these families, the truth has certainly changed their lives forever.

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1. Once Upon a Time

My grandmother took her two kids (my dad and aunt) and ghosted my grandfather, ran away to another city without a word. My grandfather had to hire a private investigator to track them down. When he eventually found them, he told her he wouldn’t do or say anything about her running away, if she would just come home. She did, and they stayed married for like 60 years.


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2. Top-Kept Secret

My mom’s family. She had a lot of sisters and they had family pictures from when they were younger. I knew all of my aunts except for one. There was a girl in the photo that no one ever talked about.

Not my aunts, not my grandparents and not even my older cousins. I had no idea who she was. I always assumed she was one of my aunts and who died young and no one ever mentioned her.

Then when my grandmother died she showed up at the funeral.

So, this is the story. My grandparents only had daughters (11 of them in fact). Whenever one of them brought a guy home my grandfather told them “you better be happy with the one you came with, because that’s the only one you’re allowed near”. He didn’t want his daughters fighting over men.

Well, apparently my “secret aunt” had an affair with the husband of one of her sisters and this caused her and the guy to be kicked out of the family. They forbid my older cousins from ever talking about her or telling the youngest ones about her. They never talked about her either and my grandparents never mentioned her. It was pretty intense. One of my aunts missed her so much that she named one of her daughters after her. They really thought they’d never see or talk to her again.

So for 20 years, she was the best kept secret in my family.


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3. All of it Was Denied

Found out my Grandma had a secret Chinese boyfriend while my Grandpa was fighting in the war. She fell pregnant with him in between my Dad and Aunty. She somehow physically hid her pregnancy from everyone, including her own family. Then when she went into labour she drove herself to the major city (6 hours away) and gave birth in secret. The child was born with some minor disabilities and she left the hospital without her. The child was eventually adopted by a wealthy family. When the child was 50 she tried to reach out and my grandma denied the whole thing and acted shocked. My grandma died 2 years ago and the whole thing came out with the birth certificates and everything. Now my Dad and Aunty have the news that they have a half-sister they didn’t know they had.


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4. It Couldn’t Have Been More

I was told growing up that my father had died from cancer before I turned 1. When I was 25 my uncle drunkenly told me that my grandfather called every year to make sure my father was still in prison. 48 hours later I was on the phone talking to my father. He had been in and out of prison the whole time. He was shot when he was 15 by a random person driving down the street and ended up addicted to pain medicine. He would forge prescriptions and get caught. All his prison time was related to drugs. No violent offenses. He just couldn’t kick the drug habit. The longest he had been free in the previous 25 years was 4 months. Then I found him. We talked on the phone frequently and I traveled to the state he was in a couple of times to visit him in prison. He got out after about a year and a half and never went back. Stayed off the drugs and turned his life around. We visited each other at least once a year and talked on the phone at least once a week. He passed away last year from intestinal issues and infection. I will always cherish the 12 years we had. Sad it couldn’t have been more.

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5. She Was Unknown

My great-great aunt was rediscovered recently. She had written a book that detailed all the abuse she was going through way back before women were supposed to speak up about it. The book was banned in our state, and she ended up living in Europe. She came back to the US and her family put her in a mental asylum and basically erased her from the family tree. We didn’t know she existed until a professor who was doing research on her reached out to my great aunt.

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6. The Story the Whole Family Knows

My uncle served in Vietnam. While over there his troop found a baby that had been orphaned or abandoned, they aren’t sure. My uncle was shipping back to Australia soon and wanted to adopt him, but my aunt said no (they’d only been married about 4 months when he was drafted, so while I don’t agree with my aunt’s actions and generally don’t like her as a person, I can understand why she said no). My uncle’s troop found a family to raise the baby, and that’s the story the whole family knows.

The secret is that my uncle and some other guys from his troop stayed in contact with the family and the kid, sending them money every month to help raise him and then to help him go to university and eventually helped him and his adoptive family move to Australia in the last 90s. My aunt and the rest of my family had no idea all this time, it only came out when my aunt and uncle divorced in 2017 and she had a forensic accountant go through their bank records. She worked at a bank for like 40 years and always noticed money missing, but his reasons were always justified.

Since we all know now, my uncle has introduced some of us to the guy and his family. They’re all really lovely people.

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7. Why He Left Home

Found out recently that my brother – 20 years ago – became a financial advisor, managed my dad’s investment portfolio, gambled and lost my dad’s entire 401(k), my brother got fired from his job and has been on the run ever since. Explained why he left home so abruptly when I was young. Despite that, my dad never told me nor pressed charges, and still paid for my tuition at private schools/universities. I love you, dad.


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8. He Got Away With It

My grandfather had a whole other woman he was living with for over 30 years. He’d leave to go live with her for three days a week and he said he was going on a “business trip”.

My mom tried to tell my grandma and aunts when she happened to find out at 15 but no one believed her or didn’t want to because they didn’t want to be alone and without a dad so she kept quiet for years. It ate her up inside.

When I found out after everyone else did I was angry because people just let it go and forgave him because of his reputation. I was so disgusted. I wish he got punished for what he did but he got away with it and lived a happy life with lots of money. He’s dead now and his other woman was at his death bed the morning he passed before we got there, after he passed we found out he changed his will and he gave all his money to her and left us all with nothing.


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9. May or May Not

Both of my mother’s parents had affairs without the other’s knowledge. My grandmother had Parkinson’s and in one of her confused states, she told my grandfather that she had an affair.

Suffice it to say my grandfather was not happy and put her in a home. He then started talking to my mother trying to figure out when it could have happened. He speculated that it happened around the same time he was having his affair, which was around 1966. My mother was shocked, she was born in 1967.

So my mother may or may not be related to the man she believed to be her father.

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10. It Makes No Difference

About a year ago, my mother revealed to me that my younger cousin is also my brother.

My late father donated sperm to my mother’s sister as she’d had several miscarriages in the past.

So technically my younger cousin is also my younger brother. I couldn’t care less and I love him more than anything.


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11. Grandpa for Himself

My grandfather ran his family home as a boarding house, where my grandmother worked 18-hour days cleaning and making food for the boarders. She did this thinking she was helping keep the family fed and with a roof, etc.

When Grandpa died when I was 8, it turned out he owned 3 other houses he was renting out and had $ 1 million in the bank.

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12. The Huge Rock

Grandma’s big diamond ring… the one everyone was hoping to get in her will… that caused some jealousy and stupid rifts….yeah it was fake. All was found out when the “winning recipient” of the family got engaged and their very excited fiance took the huge rock to get it sized. Um, ma’am you know this is a simulated diamond, right?


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13. Selfish Choice

Growing up I never understood why my dad could sometimes be so cold to my mom. When I was 13 he passed away and I had to start dealing with my learned relationship habits. My aunts began telling me the story of his first wife. My father and her got pregnant and he was called to the hospital and excitedly ran into the room to find her and her lesbian lover standing there with the baby. They told him “we are done with you and she wants a divorce.” It was a years-long plot to have a baby with him and he never even suspected anything. My grandmother said he was crushed for years. I probably hurt women along the way in my navigating relationships as well. Please don’t make selfish choices that hurt others, it hurts more people than you think…
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14. Now it All Makes Sense

My mom’s mother was actually her grandmother while her oldest sister was in fact her bio mom! Apparently, my mom’s bio mom got pregnant at 18, unwed, and her parents covered it up by sending her away until she gave birth and pretending they had a new baby. Her dad was a military officer and this was in the 1940s so it was considered really shameful (thus the cover-up). My mom had no clue because no one knew, the ones who knew didn’t tell her, and her birth certificate was falsified. How did this all come to light? In 8th grade, I had to do a family history project. My mom called some of her relatives to help me out. One of her cousins, who is much older, accidentally let some information slip, which led to my mom suspecting the circumstances of her birth/identity. My mom confronted her bio mom (who I knew as my aunt) and it was upsetting for them both. Her bio mom was shamed and told to keep quiet about the whole situation by her parents, while my mom was raised by parents who treated her horribly (my mom always said that growing up, she felt like she was unwanted). Now, my mom feels relieved because her childhood makes a lot more sense now. She and her bio mom were always close and were raised as sisters, and fortunately, they are speaking again and my mom visited her last week!

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15. There Wasn’t a Dry Eye

My grandma married and had a baby in the early 1940s in Kansas when she was a teenager. The guy bailed when the baby was 1 or 2 months old. Her father forced her to give the baby up and had the marriage annulled. Nobody in the family ever knew my grandpa was her second husband or that she had a baby.

Jump forward to preparations for my grandma’s 95th birthday. Aunt was doing a genealogy and found the first child’s birth certificate. Aunt went to my grandma and asked “Mom, did you have a son when you were a girl?” She answered, “Yes I did, and I miss him very much.” They got ahold of my newly found uncle and he had been looking for his birth mother much of his life without success and had basically given up finding her. He was a retired Air Force pilot. He came out for the birthday with his daughter and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when they hugged for the first time. He got have a birth mom 3 years before she passed.


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16. Small Town Weirdness

I was really into this chick in the 8th grade. My friend was her neighbor, one day we both went over to her house and were hanging out.

A wild Father appears, and demands I come home at once with no explanation. I was confused.

Later my father sat me down and told me that before my mom married my father, she was married to my friend’s Dad, but it didn’t end well, and I could never hang out with her again.

I’m still upset that my parents kept that a secret from me for all those years. I had been in the same class as that girl since kindergarten, and it took me a long time to get over her. Small town weirdness.


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17. One of the Saddest Things

It started with my uncle pleading with me to free him from his hospital bed after being diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. He wanted to go home. He was desperate.

I loved him dearly. Three weeks later he passed without saying another word to me or anyone.

When clearing out his room my Mom found a lock box with a note that instructed whoever found it to throw it away. My Mom decided to open it and discovered his secret. He was gay. The box contained gay travel books and some pictures of him alone at various places he’d travel to “alone” around the country.

To this day it’s one of the saddest things I’ve experienced. My Uncle, a lifelong bachelor, felt he had to lock away and hide one of the truest things about himself in a tiny box.

That box haunts me. I think about the crazed look in his eyes when he asked me to take him out of the hospital that day. He wanted to get rid of the box, the “shame” he lived with and hid. So. F*cking. Sad.

My heart goes out to all in the LGBT community. No one should have to hide who they are.

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18. The Jingling Noise

When my parents left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, we were finally able to celebrate Christmas for the first time. I was eight and my brother was six, and even though we had been taught that Santa wasn’t real all our lives, we were still psyched for presents and parties. My parents put up all kinds of decorations, including a string of large holiday bells on the front door’s doorknob so that if anyone came inside, they’d make a loud jingling noise.

After Christmas ended, those bells stayed on the door for years. My parents told me that the bells were festive and that they liked them there. My younger brother and I never questioned it. The jingling noise soon became the official “Dad’s home from work!” signal.

Years later as an adult, I mentioned the bells to my dad. He told me that they were kept on the door year-round in case our relatives tried to kidnap my brother and I to return us to the church, which is a real thing that has happened.

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19. For the Entire Time

My sister cheated on her husband throughout her entire marriage to the point that all three of her kids have different biological fathers.

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20. Just Like That

After my mom died I found out the real story behind my parent’s marriage. She came to my father’s country to visit some of her relatives. Met my father and after just one week she asked him to marry her so she could stay in the country. My father accepted because he had no one else and his parents were pressing him to get married already.

But the highlight of the story is that over some time, the two of them fell in love with each other. Their love only grew over time and they were really happy together. My mother spent her last days very ill, and she would accept only my father by her bedside. He swears to this day that she was an angel sent from god to take care of him. I am shocked that they got married just like that, out of the blue and ended up loving each other so so so deeply. I can only hope to have a good and loving marriage as they had.

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21. Bury the Hatchet

My father died when I was seven years old, after a super bitter and contentious divorce from my mother. We never went to his funeral. To this day (I’m 36 now), I’ve never even visited my father’s grave, but that’s something I will fix soon, I hope. My siblings and I were told by my mother that we were abused and unwanted by my dad and his new wife, so just before he died he sent us away so he could enjoy his life without us and with his new wife and son, my stepbrother who was just a baby at the time. I bitterly hated my father for decades for doing this to us – cruelly sending us away to be impoverished and abused by my mother. My mom told us stories about how he would leave us outside during the winter if we did anything wrong and only fed us a small can of beans or a hot dog for all three of us kids while giving his other son all the best food and toys and stuff. I couldn’t remember anything, so I took her word for it. It was ironic in hindsight, she talked about how abusive he was and then she would turn around and leave us alone for months on end to fend for ourselves while she was vacationing with friends, or beat us with tree branches and pipes, or tell us we were her biggest regret in life. Thank God for my older sister, without her I’d be dead right now. Anyways.

Five years ago I was getting married, and wanted to bury the hatchet with my little brother. So I found him on Facebook and started talking with him, and we all reconciled. None of it was his fault, after all, he was only a baby.

When he flew out to see us, we started talking with him about our abusive jerk of a father, and he was sincerely confused. As it turns out, after the divorce, my mother (for lack of a better term) seduced a very expensive lawyer into suing my father for custody of us, essentially legally kidnapping us through the system. My father was a very poor southern man and couldn’t afford any high-powered attorneys. We found out that not only was everything we knew about my father a lie, but he fought tooth and nail until the day he died trying to get us back, or to at least see us again. We didn’t attend his funeral because (of course) they didn’t want my mother there. My paternal grandparents and my stepmother (who is a very kind and wonderful woman, by the way) tried to get us kids to attend it, but my mother wouldn’t let us. She told us my dad said in his will he didn’t want us there, which is absurd in hindsight. He died suddenly of a heart attack and had no time to write a will banning his kids from his funeral. Anyway, we found out my dad tried to send us mail, gifts, and voicemails… and none of it ever got to us because my mom intercepted and destroyed it all. My dad loved and missed us intensely, up until the moment he died. My stepmom kept court documents, photos, letters, home movies… all proof of his devotion to us in the hopes that one day we could reconcile.

Sometimes I think about it, like what must have been going through his head when he was dying. Did he think about us? Did he see me specifically? Did he feel like he failed by not getting us back and now he’ll never see us grow up? Did he die so young of a heart attack because of the stress my mom put him through by taking us away? If he knew the horrible things we thought about him, he would have been crushed. I spent so much time being manipulated into hating my father that I don’t even really miss him. It feels good to know my dad loved me, but it doesn’t change anything now. I can’t call him when I need advice. I can’t talk to him about marriage problems or repairing my car. It’s the same as it’s ever been. I’m just numb to it, and I think that’s the saddest thing.

I don’t know if there is a heaven or afterlife or whatever, but I hope somehow he knows I’m sorry for thinking that way about him and that I would give anything to be able to talk to him a little bit or feel what his hug is like.

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22. None of Us Knew

When my paternal grandfather died the federal govt reached out to do a state funeral. He’d been a career army and a colonel, so we didn’t question it. Then the funeral came and they went ALL OUT! A huge procession, people showing up who are really big names, like heads of dept, senators, retired senators, people from the CIA and State Dept, it was nuts and we were all super confused. Turns out he was a key dude in the OSI during WWII and when the OSI splintered into the CIA and Secret Service, he went the Secret Service route. He wasn’t on White House detail but instead worked in a covert office that dealt with counterfeiting and currency. He went blind when I was a toddler and retired from ‘the Army.’ For whatever reason, he told no one about all his covert work with the OSI and Secret Service and the only person who knew (my grandmother) was sworn to secrecy and never told anyone. My father grew up thinking he was just a colonel working on the base. Only after his death were we given all sorts of cool sh*t like publications by him, lectures given by him, and all kinds of things from various things he did and was known for. All I knew him as was a blind old man who was perpetually smoking, drinking and being a crotchety b*stard. Turns out he was a bad*ss and all but none of us knew.


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23. Best Mother Ever

When I was 5 years old (1988), Santa Clause left a Nintendo on our front porch. It was wrapped in newspaper, and my parents had no idea who gifted it to us. My dad, particularly, tried to figure it out. He was always suspicious that it had been a family friend. It was by far the best gift of the year, and we played it all the time throughout our childhood.

My dad died in 2004.

Last Christmas, my mom explained that she was the one who had bought it and surreptitiously placed it on the porch. My dad really liked to be in control of things and had forbidden the purchase. She knew better. She didn’t tell a soul for 30 years.

Thanks, Mom

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24. Fear is a Bad Motivator

In the early 80s, my uncle spent a lot of time and money training to become a commercial pilot.

My grandparents (his folks) secretly tore up all application responses/documents and had the family doctor red flag him to airlines as having ‘bad nerves’ and ‘psychotic tendencies’.

They sabotaged his career fearing he’d die in a plane crash. He was an air steward til retirement.

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25. An Addition to The Family

My mother had a child when she was a teenager, and she had given him up for adoption to a family. After this, she went to college, got her degree, married my father, and gave birth to my 4 siblings and myself. ~30 years after giving her child up for adoption, I remember her getting a phone call and immediately locking herself in her room. I was about 12 at the time. I remember feeling scared because I could hear my mom crying, but she didn’t want to see anybody or talk about why she was crying.

On an evening later that week, my parents sat each of us kids down and told us about my mom’s past and explained that my half-brother had reached out to my mom wanting to meet her and get to know her. My dad had known me ever since he and mom were dating in college, and I believe my oldest sister had been told previous to this point. But the rest of my siblings and myself and all of the in-laws on my dad’s side (my grandma, aunts, and uncles etc.) didn’t know about this part of her past. We are fairly religious/conservative, so it was really shocking at first.

My mom then flew out to the state where my half-brother lived with her sisters and met him. Both my mom and my half-brother were both very nervous about the whole thing, but by the end of their trip meeting each other, they got to rebuild a relationship. After a bit of time, we (my siblings and I) got to meet him too.

Fast forwarding to now, he’s since moved to our same state and we see him much more frequently. He’s in all of our family pictures, we see him occasionally for holidays and birthdays, and we all see him as part of our family. We’re a very close-knit and extroverted family, while he is much shyer, so at times he’s can be a bit more distant than we would like, but we give him his space. I know my mom stays in close touch with him, and we love it when he’s able to make it for family dinners and whatnot.

Back then, I was the youngest and (up til then) the only boy in my family, so I loved learning that I had an older brother. Now that I’m an adult, I sometimes get his old clothes because were roughly the same size. He’s got good taste too so I really lucked out haha. I love that this family secret was spilled and that we were able to welcome my brother into our family and have him in our lives.

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26. He Died Alone

Last week I discovered that my dad died two years ago … And no one bothered to tell me.

I’d been looking for him. He was something of a drifter and most likely had Asperger’s. I’m his only child.

I stumbled across his headstone on findagrave.com while digging through Ancestry.

His marker was labeled “beloved brother”. My aunts and uncles are pieces of sh*t … I’m not hard to find. I don’t even know how he died. He died alone though. VA paid for his burial.


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27. All These Years

My brother is adopted and once he had kids he felt the need to seek out his family, if for no other reason than to possibly get some health history. Ends up there was a letter from his parents to him saying how they loved him so much, but it isn’t the right time for them to have kids (in college). Long story short, his parents stayed together and got married and had kids. So my brother has 3 full-blooded siblings! He contacted his bio dad and had coffee with him. Dad says it’s nice to meet you, but don’t contact us again as the kids don’t know and his wife always had a hard time with that decision and would be “distraught” over seeing him after all these years (35 or so). The kicker is that this is a relatively famous family in my area so I could look them up online. One of his brothers has several pics online and it’s like looking at my brother. It breaks my heart that he can’t meet them and introduce his kids. Another kicker is how much my brother and his bio family have in common in terms of choice of sports and education.

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28. Sent Away and Kept Secret

My papa had a brother close in age who was sent away because he had a developmental delay. My papa remembers playing with a boy his age but thought it was an old neighbor. Turns out his brother was sent away and kept secret until both of their parents died and my papa became his legal guardian when they were both in their 50s. They got to meet a few times, but his brother did die not long after.

My papa grew up poor in North Dakota. His mother immigrated from Hungary and his father was… not great. Education was not important. Most of his other siblings were dead before I was born, either from heavy smoking or drinking. It’s hard to think about, especially because of how soft-spoken my papa was.

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29. Grandma is Paranoid

Ever since I was younger my grandmother on my mom’s side would always behave strangely at dinner. If you were looking at a dinner menu, she would see what entree you were looking at and say, “Wow that sounds good! Can I split that with you?”

Same thing with appetizers, drinks, literally everything. “Hey wanna try my soda?” It always struck me as odd and somewhat annoying because I don’t like splitting food. She would creepily watch as you ate your food and didn’t take a bite of hers until you swallowed yours.

She became estranged from my family several years ago for a multitude of reasons (gambling, asking for money, harassment, and her overall past history of abuse against my mom when she was growing up). I then asked my mom why my grandma always behaves so strangely at dinner. Well turns out my grandma is paranoid that her food will be poisoned. She refuses to take a bite of food or drink until someone else “tested” it first. It creeps me out to think that she theoretically thought the food was poisoned and had ME try it to make sure it wasn’t. Waiting intently to make sure I didn’t drop dead or have some sort of reaction after taking a bite. Love you too Grandma!

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30. Put All of The Pieces Together

Found out my birth father was still alive and living in California after being told for years he had died in the Navy before I was born. Fast forward a couple of years and a Sister whom I was told had died at birth contacted me saying she had been adopted. Put all the pieces together and found out that my Grandparents, mother then 16 and uncle then 14 were stealing cars in Southern California and running them down to Tijuana. When the Feds started snooping the whole family ran for the border and made it as far as central America where my mother discovered she was pregnant with me. They then turned north and made it to Zapata Texas where I was born. She gave me the name of her last boyfriend and told me he died in the Navy. Less than a year after I was born she gave birth to my half-sister and gave her up for adoption telling the family she was stillborn. My mother was a pathological liar all her life and I didn’t find out until I joined the Navy at 17 and found my birth father was still alive.

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31. It Was the Dog

I was always told by my Mum that The dog choose my Name. They laid out a bunch of cards with different names on and the one he went to was what they named me.

When I was about 12 my Dad let me on the secret that he rubbed chocolate on the back of the card with my name on it.

It wasn’t till I was about 20 that my mum found out.


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32. Never Again

My uncle tells the story that when he was a kid, his older brother wanted him to go out hunting with him in the woods near their house. They woke up really early, and started walking much deeper into the woods than they usually did, and way off the normal trails they used. My uncle realized his brother was letting him get further and further ahead. He stopped and turned around to see his brother starting to bring the shotgun up in his direction. He asked him what the heck was he doing, his brother said “Oh, I thought I saw something.” My uncle decided to go back at that point. Later that week he went back and found a pit that someone had dug a bit further off the trail.

He never went anywhere with his brother alone again.

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33. Enduring for Decades

My dad is, and always has been, a gay man. He and my mom have been married for 35 years, and she knew he was gay when they got married. Their plan was for him to live a “normal” life as a straight (religious) family man.

That worked pretty well for the first decade. Then, he cheated on my mom. Over the next 15 years, he cheated on her with men on four separate occasions, including a full-blown seven-month on-again-off-again affair.

She’s forgiven him every time, but it’s getting to the point where it’s just sad for both of them.

Mom, it’s time to leave Dad. You love him, and he loves you, but it’s not worth the pain and paranoia you’ve been dealing with for decades.

Dad, you’re gay. You want to be with a man. So, go be gay, that’s completely fine, but stop hurting Mom.

They’re still together.


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34. So She Could Put in More Hours!

We found out when my grandmother died, she was actually two years older than we thought. She can from a HUGE Italian family and when she was young, they had to leave Michigan and hide out in California after witnessing a ‘hit’ behind her uncle’s store. (Yes, her family was the mafia, but none of her brothers or sisters is actively in it.)

Life goes on she grows up, marries my grandfather, and gets a job teaching in Detroit. At the time, Detroit Public Schools required teachers to retire at 70, so grandma retired in June of 1984, as she turned 70 during that school year. The only problem with that is, grandma, was born in 1912, not 1914. Grandma’s brother, a Roman Catholic priest, got her one of her cousins from California who had the same name, and birth certificates so she could work longer!

We had the wrong date, year and day, engraved on her gravestone. Her living brothers and sisters got together in a little group and told us the whole story right before the funeral. We don’t think grandpa even knew. We celebrated her birthday on a wrong day for our whole lives!

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35. For My Life to Exist

I used to think it was weird when my mum would have a panic attack if I didn’t pick up the phone or text back soon enough. She would call ten times, text, and Facebook messages. If she still couldn’t get ahold of me she would get in her car to come to find me.

It was only a few years ago that I heard the story for the first time.

My grandfather had a heart attack and died in my grandmother’s arms in the back of a taxicab in Thailand after being turned away from the hospital. He was a diplomat and they didn’t want the trouble of a foreign dignitary dying in their hospital. He was 45.

My mother was 14 and on vacation with her friend from boarding school. After the funeral, my grandmother wound up in a psych ward for two years doing electro-shock treatment. My uncle tried to kill himself and also wound up in the hospital. My aunt up and moved to Scotland.

No one ever talked about him. I knew he had a heart attack but I always thought he died in his sleep. I have only ever seen two pictures of him. And yet my grandmother insists that my brother and I are just like him.

The strangest part is, if he hadn’t died, my mother would never have been in the position to meet my father and neither my brother nor I would exist.

This horrible tragedy ruined my family’s life and also created space for my life to exist.

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36. It Has Been a Mystery

My uncle admitted last year that he was the one who burned down my great-grandparent’s barn back in 1968. He and his brother were 6 and 4 at the time and were playing with matches. Some hay caught fire and the place went up quickly, luckily no one was injured. It has been a mystery up until his admission. Apparently, my other uncle (the 4 y/o) was too young to remember it. My uncle has struggled with substance abuse his whole life but has been clean for about 2 years so now the truth just flows out of him lol. We never know what’s going to come out next.

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37. Catherine and James

My mom has twin cousins, one of whom “ran away” with her boyfriend in the 90s. Her name was Catherine.

She ran away with a man, “James” she met through my grandfather. James and my grandpa used to place illegal bets together in the back of a sub shop in Southie (South Boston). My grandma thought he was such a good catch; he loved kids and animals, and was well… respected in the neighborhood. She never let anyone speak ill of him because she said that he “kept the neighborhood safe for us Irish immigrants.”

Catherine and James went missing together in the summer of 1991.

I found out as a teen that James really went by “Whitey,” as in Whitey Bulger, the infamous Boston Irish mafia boss. Convicted of 18 murders, suspected of 3 dozen. Convictions for narcotics, extortion, and racketeering. In the 50s, he spent 9 years of a 20-year sentence at Alcatraz for bank robbery. The same dude who came to dinner with my grandma and older relatives in their backyard on nice summer days.

He was captured in 2011, after 16 years on the run. He was killed in a Virginia prison in 2018. Catherine served 9 years and is said to now live with Bulger’s relatives, or her twin sister, in Massachusetts.

The films “The Departed” and “Black Mass” are both based on his life.


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38. The World Makes Less Sense

My dad identifies as a woman and has decided to begin the transition.

In a way, this has made a lot of things make less sense, but it explained all of these little things I had overlooked about my dad – him shaving his legs “because he felt like trying something new, and wanted to see what it was like,” always attending LGBT events (I just thought he was super woke), and every Thursday when he would go to knitting club and come back with feminine items (my brother thought he was cheating). I always thought it was cool that my dad challenged the gender norm by being a male knitter, so I was mildly disappointed by the news.

They kept it a secret for so long because my brother and I went to Catholic school from k-12, and they were worried about what would happen if other parents and kids found out.

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39. Bad Examples

My Dad never really let us interact with my Mom’s side of the family. We were always told it was because they weren’t very righteous (I was raised VERY religious) and would be bad examples to us kids. Found out this year that it was really because my Dad at one point was dating my Mom, and two of her sisters at the same time. He then married my Mom, and then stole a car from her father, beat the sh*t out of her siblings when their parents weren’t around, and skipped town without warning one day and never told them where they went…

Her side of the family is dope, and I am hanging out with them today.


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40. Putting Forth Some Good Feeds

My dad ran a free clinic in India for two years after he completed medical school. He didn’t want anyone to know about it because “give with the right hand so the left-hand doesn’t know.” We found out after he died, when we went to India one of his patient’s children told us how he helped their mom with a serious illness she couldn’t afford to treat.

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41. It’s Bad for the Mistress

Grandpa had a whole house with a whole family living in it that no one knew about. It is only because he has Alzheimer’s and grandma is the one who is in charge of everything that we found out about the property and the family living in it. It is grandma’s property now since grandpa can’t do anything anymore and she is pondering what to do about it. She doesn’t want to be mean but she paid for over half of that house and she wants her own kids to live in it. Sucks for the mistress.


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42. Gambled it All Away

My grandpa absolutely adored his grandkids (just me and my brothers). He sold all of his belongings and moved from Missouri to Virginia (where we live) and lived a modest life in a trailer just so his entire income could go to our college funds.

He died when I was 10 and my grandma died less than a year later. When me and my brothers went to college I noticed my parents were having trouble paying for our college. This shouldn’t have been the case because I knew my grandpa had A LOT of money. I had just assumed it was because my college’s tuition was particularly expensive.

My mom’s mom let it slip one day when me and my brothers were 20 that when grandpa died he didn’t have a will. So all the money went to my grandma. But grandma was so devastated by her husband’s death that she never went out and got her own will. She died suddenly before she ever got one. But doesn’t that mean her only son, my dad, gets all of her belongings? Nope. Turns out my dad wasn’t her biological son. My dad’s bio mom died while he was in college long before I was born. There was no reason all this was kept from me and my brothers, it just was. The money ended up going to my grandma’s only living brother: a gambling addict I knew nothing about. My parents pleaded with him; he can have everything else, just give the kids their college funds. That’s the /only/ thing grandpa asked for on his deathbed. But no. He refused and gambled it all away.

My brothers and my parents are all in debt now, which is the last thing grandpa wanted. But what keeps me from being angry is that I know just how proud of me he would be just for graduating college at all.


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43. She Sent Me Away

I found out 2 years ago that my mother had a baby she gave up for adoption 18 months before she had me and then had another baby when I was 3 and she also gave that baby up for adoption. All 3 of us have different fathers and I think the only reason she kept me was that my father married her but that marriage only lasted a year. My mother remarried when I was 5 and my (half) brother was born when I was 7. As far as I knew for 59 years he and I were our mother’s only children.

I never saw her pregnant with the 2nd baby because she sent me to live with my great-grandparents across the country during her pregnancy. My mother and grandmother were the only people who knew about this and they both took the secret to their graves.

The only reason any of it was found out is because of all of the DNA testing people now do. This discovery really impacted my sense of identity for a while, my view of my mother, and our relationship.

I’ve met my half-siblings, an older sister and a younger brother. I like them and I’m glad I’ve been able to answer some of their questions but the initial discovery really messed with me for a bit.

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44. The Best Step Dad

My stepdad had a secret daughter and was almost charged with attempted murder because of it.

When he was in his late 20s, he started dating a woman in his apartment complex. After a few months, she cut off all contact. Turns out, she got pregnant, but was super married and never told him.

Her husband must have been a special kind of unaware, because she hid the pregnancy from him, covering it up by claiming she had stomach cancer.

When she delivered, she left the baby in a dumpster. It was found and rescued by a janitor at the hospital.

The woman came forward a few days later. My stepdad knew nothing about the pregnancy at all and hadn’t heard from her for the better part of a year.

As soon as he saw the baby, it was undeniable it was his, and he did everything he could to claim custody while having to go through a rigorous process to prove his innocence.

He also had to go through months of parenting classes, and prove that he deserved to keep the child.

In the meantime, the story made national headlines and offers for adoption were pouring in. But he is absolutely a “family is family” person, and was determined to get custody of his child from the state (the mother was now very much in jail).

After a long process, he finally had custody of his daughter. However, he was in his late 20s, working a demanding on call job, and his first wife had just abandoned their toddler son at the demands of her new husband.

He was living in a sh*tty apartment, working 65 hours a week, usually overnights, and now alone taking care of two children under the age of 3.

Within a year or so, he finally caved and gave his daughter up for adoption. The family was very wealthy, lived in a great area, and were unable to have a child of their own.

He even tried to negotiate being a part of her life, but the family felt it would be best to raise her as their own. It killed him, but he agreed and agreed not to contact her, under the stipulation that she be told what happened when she was of age.

Within a few weeks of her 18th birthday, she located my stepdad. He and my mom were well-married at this point (my mom knew about this from the beginning).

He and my mom had moved out of state when I was 20, and it took a couple of years before I was ever able to go visit.

So as my mom was in town, and we were planning my first visit down to them, she told me basically “by the way, this is a thing that happened, and when you’re visiting, your stepsister will be down here as well.”

She and her adoptive mother (her adoptive father passed away shortly before her 18th birthday) are now very much part of the family.

His son had a pretty rough life and unfortunately died of a heroin OD on his 25th birthday, just a few months after meeting her.

I went back and read all the articles I could find about it. The quotes in the articles are so purely him.

Also purely he is the fact that he’s spent the last 25 years STILL turning down offers to be on shows like Oprah, Ellen, etc, and numerous paid book deals, and the like. All he ever wanted out of the whole situation was to provide the best life he could for his daughter, even though that meant giving her up.

She now does a lot of work with Safe Haven. She’s kind of a typical mid-20s girl. You can tell she kind of loves the attention she’s gotten from it, and I believe she’s actually accepted a book deal – much to his chagrin – but at the end of the day, the work she’s doing IS a net positive, so he’s happy to support her endeavors.

He’s one of the most loyal, honorable people you could ever meet. It’s never unclear to him what the right thing to do is. Life has thrown him a lot of b*llsh*t for his efforts, and even though I always generally liked him, it’s uneasy to really see a stepdad as part of your parental unit, especially when they come into your life when you’re already nearly an adult, but reading and learning about how he handled that situation earned a lot of respect and adoration from me, as it made me realize that all the kind things he did for me growing up had nothing to do with the uneasiness of being a step parent, or anything to do with making my mom happy – he was doing them because, without hesitation, he knows the right thing to do, does it, and his greatest pleasure in life is to help people and make other people happy.

My real dad is no slouch by any means, and very much part of me, but even though my stepdad has never once felt the need to teach it or explain it to me, I learned the joy of selflessness, and the value of true morals – not the kind you have to do mental gymnastics to justify – from watching him.

God, what a good guy he is. I should call him tomorrow.

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45. He Looks Exactly Like Him

One week before my younger sister’s wedding, my dad decided to call me, both my sisters, and my mother (his ex-wife) to meet at his house for something “very important he needed to tell us.” We all thought he had cancer or something. We were very worried. Once we were all there, he sobbingly confessed to having a 5-year-old son living in the town next to ours, which means the kid was conceived and born while my parents were still married. He claimed he didn’t know for sure that the kid was his, and he had only recently gotten a DNA test. He showed us a picture of our half-brother. He looks EXACTLY like my dad. My mother was devastated.

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