28 Spilled Family Secrets That Changed Lives, Broke Hearts, And Rewrote History

    "I was the family secret. My birth father didn't know about me. He does now, and it has hurt his relationship with his wife. I feel terrible."

    Reddit user u/kaushman2 asked the community, "What family secret was finally spilled in your family?" The thread quickly filled with many shocking revelations that altered some families forever. Here's what people shared:

    1. "One of my uncles might have been a serial killer. After he died, my cousins found a journal in his remote cabin in northern Minnesota with a bunch of dates and what seemed like descriptions of people. He was known for picking up hitchhikers. They turned stuff over to the FBI, but the Boundary Waters area is huge and remote, so it'll never be fully investigated unless someone stumbles across something. I was only 11 when he killed himself. so I don't remember much about him. This all came out during a drunken night at a bonfire."


    2. "My aunt didn't lose her teaching job due to budget cuts like she'd always claimed. Turns out she never had a valid teaching license to begin with, regularly had affairs with the dads, and embezzled PTA money!"


    Empty classroom with desks, chairs, and a world map on the wall

    3. "My grandpa was a drag queen. When he returned from the war, he would take 'trips to the city' on weekends with his military friends. My aunt found his drag costumes (wigs, heels, etc.) in his closet, and my grandma scolded her and told her never to discuss it again. It slowly came out that he was actually taking all this stuff to perform in the city on weekends."


    4. "When I was a kid, we had a huge, surprise 50th wedding anniversary party for my grandparents on my dad's side. Everyone wanted my grandpa to give a speech when it came time for cake/dessert. The surprise was on all of us because they weren't actually celebrating 50 years of marriage. They secretly divorced and then got back together, but no one knew. Everyone was shocked, to say the least. I don't remember all the details, but they got remarried at some point in secret and just carried on life as normal."


    Two gold foil balloons shaped as the number 50 against a plain wall, likely symbolizing a milestone

    5. "After 25 years of marriage, my dad announced his divorce to my mom, then married her sister two months later. So, my aunt is now my stepmom and my cousins are now my stepsisters. I guess they’ve had a thing going since before my parents even started dating."


    6. "My dad cheated on my mom and almost missed my mom giving birth to me because he was with his affair partner when she went into labor. And, he was trying to get my mom to meet the person he cheated on her with."


    Person sitting on a hospital bed looking out the window, suggesting themes of health and parenting

    7. "My great-aunt was a nurse supervisor at a mental hospital in the 1920s. She fell in love with a guy who was being evaluated for a murder trial. She helped him escape, and they went to Florida, where the police caught up with them. My aunt got off easy, but he got the electric chair. I found all this in a newspaper archives while working on family history. I showed it to my mom, who admitted it was all true."


    8. "I was conceived using a sperm donor. I found out that my dad was not my biological father when I was 38, and that (at the time) I had 18 half-siblings! We are up to 32 and counting because they keep rolling in. It actually created a cool new social group."


    Hand retrieving cryopreserved samples from a liquid nitrogen storage tank

    9. "The story was always that my two cousins were adopted and not related to each other even. People sometimes would ask them if they were twins. They would say, 'Nope, we're adopted.' Somehow, it got out that their bio mom was their younger aunt. The older sister adopted and raised both girls as her own. The younger aunt/mom got married and started a family before all this came out, too. It was a wild journey. I have heard this is common in Catholic families. They hide the illegitimate pregnancy, and someone in the family adopts the child or pretends it is an older married family member's child. This was in the early '80s, so I guess it was possible to get away with it."


    10. "My parents got divorced in secret, yet we all lived miserably under the same roof my whole life. Eventually, they remarried…also in secret. I found their re-marriage license."


    Torn photo of a bride and groom figurine, symbolizing divorce or marital separation

    11. "I found out I was adopted when I was 32 years old. My mom's cousin is my real dad. They tried to take me back when I was 3, but my mom refused. Now, my birth parents are both doctors, live in a mansion, and have six more kids. I grew up in poverty."


    12. "I was always told that my mother's father had died in the war. After my mother died, my cousins found out that our grandfather was alive and had divorced my grandmother when my mom was young. My grandmother, being a good Irish Catholic, told the nuns at the school that she was a widow because the church wouldn't let a divorced woman's kids go to Catholic school. My grandfather had remarried and had a whole other set of kids and grandchildren. My cousins tried to meet him, but he wasn't interested."


    Row of empty church pews with hymnals, possibly for a family gathering or event

    13. "My father wasn't my bio dad. My bio dad, his father, etc., were in organized crime. I made my siblings get tested. Three of the seven of us tested, and we all had DIFFERENT fathers — not the one who raised us. It ruined my entire identity. Wild."


    14. "My grandfather was not a struggling immigrant who toiled away in a dress factory upon arrival in America. He was, in fact, a high-ranking member of a powerful crime family."


    Four individuals walking away in a tunnel, possibly representing a metaphor for parental guidance or protection

    15. "I found out a couple of years ago that when I was 3, my father divorced my mother and picked me up from kindergarten. He told the caretakers I wouldn’t return to the kindergarten again, then drove off with me. The caretakers called my mother, who of course knew nothing about this. She then realized my father was taking me to another area in my country (three hours away). My mother was at home with my baby sister (my father's daughter), and he split us from each other."

    "The most messed up thing is that when my parents went to court, the judge let me stay with my father and let my sister stay with my mother because I had already gotten used to being without my mother. They officially split my sister and me apart. I had 'only' been away from my sister and mother for three months. I love my father; he's a good man and raised me well, but I can never forgive him for this act alone. Because of this, my mother has never had another husband/boyfriend, and I have only visited my mother and sister on holidays for my entire childhood."


    16. "I, by mistake, found out that my mother had an affair and got pregnant with me. Neither my dad nor I had any clue about this. I figured this out when I was 37 years old. My dad and I did a DNA test, and it came back that there was a 0% chance he was my biological father. This caused my parents to get a divorce after 47 years. My entire life was turned upside down. I went through a very dark time. I now know my entire biological family; we all have much in common. I am thankful that I found out since I always had questions about why I didn't look like my dad's family and why we didn't have similar interests. My biological family and I spend time together, and I feel like the missing piece of me was finally found."


    Ultrasound screen showing a fetus with a healthcare professional's hand in the foreground

    17. "My 65-year-old dad found out his mother wasn't actually his mother. She was his grandmother, and his sister was his birth mother. She had him when she was 15; it was extremely frowned upon back then. They sent her away while pregnant, and she returned when he was born. He was raised as if he was another sibling. His entire family knew but kept it a secret, even after the 'mother' and 'grandmother' all died. He only found out by chance when he got a passport and needed his birth certificate. He doesn’t even know who his birth father is. It's so sad."


    18. "My dad was previously engaged and called off the wedding the day before because his fiancée's parents bought them a house next door to them. My mom found out for the first time (as did I) in family therapy after 25 years of marriage."


    Person holding an engagement ring box, suggesting a proposal scenario

    19. "My grandpa had a quarter that was warped from a bullet hitting it. He showed it to me when I was a kid and said it was in his pocket and could have saved his life. It wasn't until way later in life that I found out it was my grandma who shot him."


    20. "My parents were married for 28 years. Each had an affair very early in the marriage, then things settled down. A few years after my father died, my mother met and married a man. But, my father's aunt recognized him as the man she had an affair with many years prior. The aunt spilled the beans and fractured the entire family. Drama, drama, drama."


    Gray shirt with a red lipstick mark on the collar

    21. "We found out after my grandfather died that none of his seven children with my grandmother were his. They all likely had different fathers."


    22. "At age 43, I learned I had a half-sister. My father had an affair, and she was conceived after my brother was born, but before I was. She reached out to me and is a lovely person. We have been in contact ever since, have traveled together, and I have visited her several times."


    Adult and child embracing under a tree, both smiling with joy, representing a moment of parental affection

    23. "When my dad's mom died, we learned she was actually 10 years older than anyone thought she was. She was embarrassed to marry a man younger than her, so she lied for like 80 years."


    24. "My mother-in-law was once engaged to a high-up mafia guy, and personally hung around with some of the most notorious mobsters in Europe. Eventually, things got quite dangerous. They ended things and she moved back home. No one would expect this from a simple grandma in Florida, but she just revealed the whole thing to my husband in case when she dies, he finds the wedding dress photos, letters, and other things in her belongings."


    Close-up of a child's white dress with embroidered floral pattern and satin ribbon

    25. "My dad's little sister wasn't really his little sister. It was his sister's baby, raised by his mom. The girl didn't know until she was 21."


    26. "My mother is kid #7 out of 10. My aunt (kid #4), who was born in 1945, did her DNA and found out that she has a different father from everyone else. She was devastated. There was always a rumor that there was an affair, but nobody talked about it. She has so many questions, but nobody's alive to answer them."


    A cotton swab inside a test tube indicating a medical exam or sample collection, relevant to parental concerns about health

    27. "On my father's death bed, I learned he had a second wife, and children, and the worst part was dad was taking his little secret to his grave. The secret kind of slipped out."


    28. And: "I was the family secret. My birth father didn't know about me. He does now, and it has hurt his relationship with his wife. I feel terrible."


    Sheeeesh. Have you ever learned about a wild family secret? Tell us in the comments!

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.