In 1930, my grandparents adopted a baby girl who they named Caroline. She grew up to be my beloved Aunt Cary. Apparently she wasn’t an infant, but the story that she was nine months old seems a little off based on the photo. At any rate she was several months old and joined her nearly nine year old sister, my mother to be.
She was adopted in New York State which has a permanent seal on adoption records. The story we heard was that she was the daughter of very smart young woman and a married man. I have no idea if that was the case, nor will I ever know given the permanent seal. This is fine with me, but it caused me to reflect on things we once thought would stay secret. We had no way of knowing all the ways that science would move ahead in the years to come.
When I was young, some infertility issues turned out to be caused by the father. In this case, the mother used sperm from a donor to have their child. It was assumed that the child would always think that she was the child of both parents, so this was never discussed. With the widespread use of DNA analysis, many people are now learning that their biological father is not the man they grew up with. Similarly, children conceived during an affair are finding out(as the father may be also learning) that their biological father is not the man they know as dad.
And I have just finished exploring what I was able to learn about my paternal grandmother, things she never expected me to know. I am sure she had her reasons for keeping her history private, and she had every expectation that it would stay that way.
What other family secrets will find their way out in the years to come? We have no way of predicting, but it is an issue many are dealing with even as I write.