Aggregated News

Gene wheel

People are discovering the truth about their biological parents with DNA—and learning that incest is far more common than many think.

When Steve Edsel was a boy, his adoptive parents kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings in their bedroom closet. He would ask for it sometimes, poring over the headlines about his birth. Headlines like this: “Mother Deserts Son, Flees From Hospital,” Winston-Salem Journal,December 30, 1973.

The mother in question was 14 years old, “5 feet 6 with reddish brown hair,” and she had come to the hospital early one morning with her own parents. They gave names that all turned out to be fake. And by 8 o’clock that evening, just hours after she gave birth, they were gone. In a black-and-white drawing of the mother, based on nurses’ recollections, she has round glasses and sideswept bangs. Her mouth is grimly set.

The abandoned boy was placed in foster care with a local couple, the Edsels, who later adopted him. Steve knew all of this growing up. His parents never tried to hide his origins, and they always...