Here are their shocking, emotional, and sometimes heartbreaking stories:
1."My friend was watching The Montel Williams Show with his family, one of those episodes about secret families or something, and turned to his parents to tell them he was glad they had a ‘normal’ family. His dad leaned in and said 'Well, actually son...” and my friend learned he had two half-sisters in his dad’s home country. His dad flew his sisters in a year or so later and my friend said it was weird because it was hard to see them as his sisters and one was 'really hot.'"
2."Before my parents met, my dad had a one night stand in Las Vegas. The woman got engaged not knowing which man was the father, but her fiancé said he didn't care if it was his or not, so they never got a test. My dad always knew there was a possibility the kid was his, so he stayed in contact with the mom over the years. Whatdya know, the kid grows up looking just like my dad. They finally told the kid and did a DNA test when the kid was 21, and the next year he came to meet all of us. It was a trip to meet a stranger with my face, but he fit right in with the rest of us. It was awesome. TLDR: What happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas!"
3."I was in middle school when my parents told me and my younger siblings that my dad had a daughter when he was in college. It stung a little bit. I selfishly thought I was extra special to my parents and especially my father as the first child. Apparently, the mother didn’t want my dad to have anything to do with his daughter, so my dad was not allowed to have any contact with her until she turned 18. It’s been many years now, and I’ve never met her. I talked to her on the phone once, but that’s it."
"My parents try to avoid discussing her. Not sure if they’re embarrassed or if they just don’t want to deal with something they legally don’t have to."
4."My parents were both polyamorous. I think that most poly people have a pretty small amount of people they’re in a relationship with, but my parents didn’t. (I cannot stress this enough: this does not reflect how most poly people approach relationships or what the community is like!) My mother and father had absolutely no restrictions on their relationship before or after I was born, and they were constantly starting relationships with new people. Additionally, they both had several friends with benefits. Long story short, my parents often had 'friends' over at our apartment throughout my childhood, and they sometimes brought their kids. I would later learn that most of the 'friends' were sleeping with at least one of my parents, and the children were sometimes the results. But I never learned how many or which ones."
5."When I was 10, my bio father wrote me a letter from prison informing me I had a sister two years and a day younger than me. He hadn't seen me since I was two weeks old, so presumably, after he left [my] mom and me, he went to another woman and knocked her up too. I've met her once since we've become adults but we live many states away from each other."
6."When my paternal grandmother passed away, I was 17. At the funeral, my dad shook hands with those who came to pay their respects. When a man and his family got to my dad, my dad shook the man’s hand and said 'Thank you for coming.' The man just stared my dad in the face and said 'Do you know who I am?' My dad shook his head no. The man replied, 'It’s nice to see you too, Dad.'"
"I knew my dad had a son from a previous marriage, NOT TWO! My dad left his first wife when his sons were 2 and 1, and made the decision to cut contact so the boys were not subjected to their disagreements (not the choice I would ever make, but I digress). Turns out my brother has two daughters that are my age, so I’ve been an aunt since I was 1. I got to meet them for the first time, and now my brother and I are friends on social media — after the funeral he messaged me via FB and said he was really thankful he met me and how much it means to him. Such a wild story, but not a bad ending!"
7."My dad was an "older" dad, born in the late '40s (I'm in my mid-30s). Growing up I knew I had a half-sister about 16 years older than me. In college, I got a Facebook message from a woman saying my dad was her dad, and that my dad also had a son the same age. I see a photo of the son (whose first name was my dad's middle name) and he is my dad's twin. My dad never admitted those were his kids and I never sought a relationship with them. We always joked that while dad made mistakes, there better not be any 'mistakes' younger than me. Well..."
8."When I was 9 my dad called and told me, my mom, and two sisters not to go to bed before he got home, that he had a surprise for us. Later that night he walks into the backyard with a grown woman who he introduces as our sister. Apparently, when he was in high school, he had a kid with a woman he was casually seeing. The kicker is this woman told my dad that he wasn't the father, so, being 17, my dad believed it and moved on. Twenty-one years later and this girl contacted my dad saying he was her father and she'd like a relationship with him."
"Things were ok for a while, but then she started asking him for money, which my parents didn't have. Her family also accused my dad of being an absent father, which isn't fair since he didn't even know she existed. Eventually she went no contact with my dad. He died three years after that and she went nuts from guilt and grief. My sisters and I went no contact with her because she was out of her mind and we couldn't deal with her. We are much better off this way."
9."I did a DNA test and this woman came up, the system thought she was my first cousin but it turned out she was actually my Dad’s half sister we never knew existed!"
10."I was told to fill out my FAFSA form for college, and upon learning that I had to disclose annual family income, I knew asking my parents about this would be difficult as they were very hesitant to disclose any information about their income. So, I went to do some research myself to see how much my parents made by going through my father’s file cabinet while he was out. It had a ton of interesting documents to say the least, I found a cover letter and resumé from my father back in the early '90s where he mentioned his wife’s name and the name of his son and daughter. Those names were not familiar to me. Turns out my father had a regular family and a regular life before he met my mom, and in the end, it just didn’t work out with his then-wife."
11."I always knew about my big brother who was adopted out of the family at birth. He was the product of my mother’s affair, before she had any kids with my father. I met him for the first time when I was 30 and he was 40. We stayed in touch until three months later when he seemed to be suddenly ghosting me… found out a few weeks later he had been arrested for murder. Turns out he was not a good guy!"
12."I found out I had two brothers on my dad's side when I was in high school. My dad finally ended up telling me about one of them when the boy was already about three years old. I found out about the other brother when he was 18 months old; I was working on a family tree for a school project and my grandfather told me. They honestly both feel like cousins to me now and I've only ever seen them a couple of times."
13."I was the product of an affair, so somewhere in Canada I have a sister, a niece and nephew, and a brother-in-law I'll never meet. I tried to get in contact with her a few times over the years but, understandably, the circumstances surrounding my birth made her resentful and she made the choice not to be in contact. I think of her often and what it'd be like if things were different, but I've found comfort and love in the family I've built so it's enough. I just wish that I wasn't made from deceit and lies sometimes. It's hard to grapple with."
14."I bought my Dad a DNA test for his 80th birthday as I wanted to try and solve a family mystery about his great-grandfather! The day he received the results we also got a match with another woman and it said she was a close family relative. After chatting with my mother we realized it wasn’t a cousin but a daughter! I got in contact with her and we chatted for hours. She had been looking for my father for over 30 years. There was some angst and some very difficult conversations. Long story short she is now part of our family and my mother has taken it all in stride and plays the good stepmother to my new sister! Happy birthday, Dad — I got you a new daughter!"
15."I met my half-brother when I was 11 and he was 16. I had heard a little about him from my father. He was my father's first child from a previous marriage. I honestly really liked having an older brother even though he never lived with us. It felt like some pressure shifted off of me as I had always believed that I was the oldest. I wish that I had stayed in better contact with him over the years. We don't talk now, not because I don't want to, but because I have no way to access his number. I hoped to see him at my father's funeral a few years back, but he and my father's relationship was even more strained than ours, so I am not surprised that he did not show. I just want him to know that I love him and miss him."
16."My dad was previously married and gave up his rights to his first daughter so that she could be adopted by his ex's new husband. He tried to find her again, but was unable to, so my parents decided not to tell me. Well, after 31 years of thinking I was an only child, my older sister found me on social media this year! I thought it was a scam until she could describe my grandparents down to their habits, clothing, and smell! It has been such a joy getting to know her and seeing her reconnect with my dad, especially because she was told a very different story as to why he left."
Do you learn about a "secret sibling" later in life too? Let us know in the comments or via this anonymous form.