about the project


My name is Katy Barbier-Greenland and my PhD project investigates family secrets. I'm a qualified social worker and I have a background in social policy, writing and research coordination.

My research explores reproductive family secrets in particular, which are those related to conception and birth. The overarching research question for the project is 'how do reproductive family secrets impact on people's lives?'. I’m always happy to talk about my project so if you have any questions please get in touch.

This is a qualitative research project, based in sociology and psychology at the School of Arts, Social Science and Humanities at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, although I live in the Netherlands now. Please get in touch if you're interested in participating! It doesn't matter where you live, as long as you're happy to be interviewed in English we can talk via Skype, on the phone or via written exchange. I have nearly completed the data collection process but will be able to interview a couple more people so please get in touch.

reproductive family secrets

These include secrets related to conception and birth, and include secrets like:

·      secret or hidden children, siblings, half-siblings

·      secret adoptions, surrogacy, involvement of donors or assisted reproductive technology

·      children conceived in ways seen as taboo

·      mis-assigned or unanticipated parentage.

why undertake this project?

This study will involve talking with people aged 18 and over about personal and transformative life experiences, shedding light on what they mean for people, their identities and their perspectives on families. It will produce insights about family dynamics and how secrecy and power function in families, and will generate material for professionals to help them support people going through such experiences.

privacy and confidentiality

Everyone who participates in this research (and anyone they mention in their story!) will be completely anonymised and details changed so that no one is able to be identified. You can even use a pseudonym when you contact me if you like! The only information I require from you is your email address so I can send you further info about the project and a consent form, and your timezone so we can set up a time to chat that works for you.


This project has received full ethics clearance from Swinburne University. If you have any queries about privacy and confidentiality, or you'd like further information about taking part, please get in touch with me via the Call for participants page.

Thank you so much and I look forward to talking with you about your family secret! 


Image: Roman Kraft

Image: Roman Kraft