What is an NPE?

'NPE' is a term used in the genealogical community to identify a blip on a family tree where the assumed parent was proven, through a DNA test, to NOT be the biological parent.  It's original meaning was "Non-Paternal Event," however, with the reality being that sometimes the maternal side is also affected, it has morphed to mean "Non-Parental Event".

We prefer to use the term:

"Not Parent Expected"

Most NPE's make this discovery in adulthood during a genealogical DNA test that was done to determine nationality of their ancestors.  


Here are just some of the more common examples of those directly affected by an NPE:

  • Discovered different biological father due to:

    • Late discovery step-parent adoption

    • Extra-marital affair

    • One-night-stand

    • Sperm bank donor

    • Assault

  • Discovered different biological mother due to: 

    • Late discovery step-parent adoption

    • Donor-egg conceived (and possibly surrogate-carried)

  • Discovered different biological parents due to:

    • Late Discovery Adoption (legal or illegal)

    • Other family member raised (i.e. grandparent raised daughter's child)

    • Donor-Conception (donor sperm and donor egg and/or surrogate-carried)

    • Unauthorized removal of child (switched-at-birth, bio-mother told it was a stillbirth)

Some discover that their dad made the choice to be their father and went along with the "secret." Some discover they were the product of a sexual assault that was swept under the rug because people just didn't talk about those things back then. 

Some knew they were adopted, and had some relationship with their birth parents (or their families), and the DNA test proved that the assumed birth dad was NOT their biological father after all.


We understand it was a different era 50-70 years ago, and no one ever imagined these secrets could ever be revealed so easily scientifically.  Yet, we are now feeling the impact of the trauma of these revelations. 

We hope that with this new and easily accessible technology, cultural attitudes will continue to improve, and the stigma of "illegitimacy" will disappear.


If you are an NPE, or care about someone who is, find out how you can join NPE Friends Fellowship and start your journey towards healing and hope.