We earn a commission from brands listed on this site. This influences the order and manner in which these listings are presented.
Advertising Disclosure

These 10 People Discovered Scandalous Family Secrets After Taking a DNA Test

Michael Graw
An old man gasping in shock
DNA tests can be a fun way to learn about your family history, enabling you to explore how the branches of your tree fan out as you go back in time. But those branches might not always go where you expect them to, especially if there are secrets lurking in your family that you may not know about.

The case of Three Identical Strangers, for example, is one of the most famous instances of people discovering they're related without having previous knowledge of having any siblings. DNA testing has helped many people uncover the truth about their families. That’s exactly what happened to these 10 people, who discovered scandalous family secrets all thanks to a DNA test.

1. My father isn’t my biological father, and he only admitted it after I took a DNA test.

I (34) found out that my dad (78) is not my biological father. He learned that I was awaiting results of the test, which was an innocent birthday gift from my wife, and broke the news to me over a beer in an awkwardly crowded bar (about a week before quarantine started).

My parents used a donor that was selected from a local medical school by their fertility doctor, the only basis seeming to be that this student “looked like” my parents. I haven’t been able to find any useful leads on who my biological father might be, just distant family relations.


2. I was adopted, but my biological family lived nearby—and few of them knew I was alive!

I was adopted and always knew I was adopted. My parents told me that I came from a family that lived several towns over, and I was a surprise. When the tests came back, I found out I had a first cousin. I emailed them, started comparing notes, and wham! First, my biological mom was single. Second, I was not a late addition. I had four sisters and one brother. I was the baby, but only by a couple of years. Third, most all of them lived nearby.

Finally, nobody knew I was alive! My biological mom had passed. She had kept the pregnancy secret from everybody else. Before she died, she confided in one of my biological sisters that she had a baby a long time ago, and she had put the baby up for adoption. She told nobody else. When my sister told the rest of the family they didn't believe her! So when I finally looked them up, she was like, 'See! All those years! I told you so! We have a baby brother!' It was an amazing experience.


3. My parents lied about adopting me until I was 19 years old.

I think the first time I asked my parents if I was adopted I was about 8 or 9, due to a combination of me looking nothing like anyone in my family, a feeling of not fitting in with my family, and people outside my family constantly asking if I was adopted or if one of my parents was actually a stepparent etc. My parents said I wasn't adopted, and there was no way I wasn't biologically related to both of them. Spoiler: they lied. I spent years confused about why I felt so out of place. My parents made me feel crazy for questioning being their biological child. I was even convinced for a short time that I must have been switched at birth.

It bugged me so much and for so long I did an ancestry DNA test, and my results were wildly incompatible with my family's known ethnic background. Obviously, an ancestry DNA test isn't exactly hard evidence but it was enough that I felt I could go to my parents and slightly exaggerate the amount of evidence I had to maybe finally get some answers. I told my mom I did a DNA test (but not what kind) and the results were unexpected. Then finally I was told I'm adopted, at age 19, a decade after I first asked. They refused to give me any information on my biological parents beyond claiming they're both dead, which I'm having a hard time believing.


4. I have a full brother that my parents never told me about.

My mother got pregnant by my father before they were married, which was scandalous in 1960. So, mom left town and lived with my aunt until the birth. She gave the baby up for adoption and then returned home. A couple of years later, she married my dad and had three more children together, including me. Fifty-five years later, after both my parents had died, my aunt let it slip that me and my siblings were not the only children of our parents. My sister took a DNA test, and soon thereafter, we met our new big brother and his family and have become quite close.


5. My father isn’t my biological father—and neither is his.

Found out I have a different father. My dad also took a DNA test at the same time and found out his father, of 52 years, was not his biological father either.


6. My mother had a secret affair and never told anyone for 45 years.

A friend discovered that her father was not really her father. Her mom had an affair and she was the result. It tore her family apart. Her "father" did not know he was not really her father.

Note: she was 45 years old when this happened.


7. My grandfather wasn’t actually adopted like everyone in the family was told.

Always thought my grandfather on my father's side was adopted and thought our last name was just of the family that adopted him. One DNA test later and the family figures out that my great grandparents got pregnant out of marriage and ran away. They came back with a child saying it was adopted so they wouldn't be shamed for him. That's how we figured out that my last name is for sure from blood.


8. My father isn’t my biological father, and my mother won’t tell me who my real father is.

So, I did the health DNA one 18 months ago because I wanted to see if I had the breast cancer gene, as there are several incidences on both sides of my family. Got my results and became very confused. It claimed I had no Italian [ancestry] despite my father's grandma literally coming over from Sicily in 1920.

It took me a few minutes to realize what that actually meant. My parents have been together since my mother was 14, I was born when she was 17, and my father joined the military and married my mother. Called my mom and she literally said "that's interesting." Then she asked me not to talk to my father and she would explain everything the next time I visited. She did not, and just refused to talk about it. Honestly, I was just shook. I did not see it coming and it was never even presented to be a possibility to me. My sister ended up doing a DNA test and it showed that we were half siblings.

I went no contact with my mother 4 months ago, due to this incident and several others. I haven't told my dad but I realize at some point the truth is going to come out. My sister matched with some of my fathers relatives while I did not, so if anyone checks, they're gonna be asking questions.


9. My wife’s mother had a secret child at 14, but never told anyone about it.

A few years ago my wife and I both took the 23 and Me test. One of her matches came back with 23% which is high for someone non-family. She messaged him and they started talking. He was about 10 years older, said he was adopted and the only thing he knew was some basic biological info. From his age that would have put her mom at 14 but her mom never said anything about it. So the two options were her mom got knocked up young or grandma had a secret love child.

So she asked her youngest Uncle who said when he was a kid he remembered his sister going away for a few months because she was "sick" and the family just pretended it never happened. He also said that before his mom (my wife’s grandmother) passed she told him all about it.

So my wife now has a brother, a sister in law and nieces and nephews.


10. My brother and I are half-siblings on my mother’s side, but even my mother doesn’t realize it.

Found out that my brother is only my half-brother.

Our parents (well, who we thought were both our parents) were never married. But my mom has insisted my whole life that my dad is my brother's dad. He never acknowledged my brother (he did me), claiming that the man my mom was living with at the time was probably his father. My mom has always said the other fellow was simply her roommate.

So my brother gets an Ancestry DNA test done and he's got no German ancestry at all, even though our dad's side of the family is super German…Then I got a test done. And he showed up as a close match, but with 99% certainty a half-sibling. So we dig into this a little more. And my half-sister from my dad's side's son shows up on mine but not his…All the cousins on my dad's side showed up on mine but not his…

So we're left with the certainty that our mom has been wrong all these years. I swear to you that this woman does not lie to make herself look better. It just doesn't occur to her…This woman is really a lot more honest than she should be, by all rights.

So we've actually decided not to raise the issue with her. Either she's gone 50 years not knowing the actual father of her oldest child, or there's enough trauma there to make an unusually honest woman lie.



Even the most carefully crafted family stories and deceptions don’t stand up to the scrutiny of DNA testing. Ancestry tests from providers like MyHeritage and Living DNA can look deep into your family tree and help you uncover everything from your ethnicity to long-lost relatives.

DNA tests have revealed to some people that what they thought about their parents or their siblings simply isn’t true. While these revelations about your family can be shocking, they can also lead to reconciliation and the discovery of new family members.

Want to learn more about your family history? Check out our reviews of the best DNA tests to get started today!

Michael Graw
Michael Graw is a freelance writer specializing in finance, business, and tech who writes for Top10.com. His work has appeared in numerous well-known online and print publications, including Techradar, BestMoney, Business2Community, Day Trade Reviews, Pacific Standard, Fortune, Business Insider, and more.