“Family Secrets?”

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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.

18 thoughts on ““Family Secrets?”

  1. To us, it doesn’t matter whether a family member is adopted or not. My brother and sis-in-law adopted a baby back in 2003. She is now 14 years old. They have to go through the whole process of adoption with the court’s approval. We only changed the surname of the baby to ours but the first name given cannot be changed. Thanks Elizabeth.

  2. Wow. You know, most people back then probably thought that certain family connections would never be uncovered. Since we’re all getting DNA tested and finding all kinds of family connections we never could have known about, I think there are a lot of surprises in store for all of us!

  3. It’s vital to know who your parents are when it comes to genetics. DNA plays a very important role when it comes to hereditary diseases and knowing who your blood relatives are. There is a chance unknowingly that intermarriages would happen. We know what inbreeding causes. With all the findings of genealogy would you be passing this down the history amongst your family since some are so-called ‘secret?’

  4. Wonderful posts. Secrets are more open these days. But what I hate is if parents have adopted a baby, and years later, the parents (and the child) are asked, “Did you find out who the real dad is?” URGH. The real dad is the man raising his child!!!!

  5. You are right, Elizabeth, a lot of family secrets are now revealed by modern technology. When I was 16 years old my Mother told me that the Dad I had know all my life was not my biological father. It doesn’t matter to me, Dean is my Dad and I am his daughter.

  6. It is interesting to see people’s takes on secret keeping. I just finished my Grandfather’s genealogy. He was adopted; an unexpected find. He was a humble, private man whom I adored, so I hesitated to publish. Adoptive and biological sides seemed unrelated and neither were known to my Mother (or me). The take away is that, with no disrespect to the other, the adoptive side much won my heart, as my great grandparents. I feel their good hearts were passed down. Treasures.

      1. Sorry for the delay. I’m new to blogging, and “happened” on your comment. Uncovering his biological family took five years of persistence. I think the answer lay in listening to the voices of his dear ones . That is, there are nuances in the documents, which after all, are written by people. I do have a background in clinical research and used those skills peeking through the data. In what time period was your aunt adopted?

      2. Hi Elizabeth This may be redundant. I thought I answered, but do not see it here (newbie). His biological tree eluded me for five years. It was sleuth assess, eliminate, surmise – followed by writing, to see if their stories hung together. There were no records of adoption to review which was pretty much the case when he was born; 1882. What time frame was your aunt’s birth?

        1. Good sleuth work. My aunt was adopted in 1930. She had no children, so there really isn’t a path I could take save the NY records which are permanently sealed.

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