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. I’m always happy to talk about my project so if you have any questions or would like to take part, please get in touch.

have you discovered a family secret?

If you’ve discovered a family secret of your own and came across this website in your search for information, support or advice, I wish you all the very best in working through your experiences. I encourage you to seek support. There are some initial outcomes arising from this project that might be helpful to read through and I will post more material as the project continues. There are also many experienced, supportive and sensitive professionals available around the world who can help you clarify and process things and I hope you find someone who can support you.

about this project

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?'.

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.

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

·      children conceived in ways seen as taboo

·      mis-assigned or unanticipated parentage.

why undertake this project?

This study has involved interviews with adults 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, confidentiality and ethics

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. Privacy, confidentiality and anonymity are critical elements of my project.

This project has received full ethics clearance from Swinburne University. If you have any queries please get in touch with me via the Contact the researcher page.


Have you discovered a family secret of your own? Are you a professional seeking advice on how you might support someone around a family secret discovery? Check out the Outcomes page for some of my recommendations arising from this project on how you might go about this.

Image: Roman Kraft

Image: Roman Kraft