Delaying Adoption Disclosure: A Survey of Late Discovery Adoptees

Amanda L. Baden, Doug Shadel, Ron Morgan, Ebony E. White, Elliotte S. Harrington, Nicole Christian, Todd A. Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Despite common recommendations from professionals that adoption disclosure should be done at early ages, reports suggest that a sizeable number of adult adoptees do not learn of their adoption status until older ages. The few studies that exist indicate that the late discovery of adoption is linked to psychological distress and feelings of anger, betrayal, depression, and anxiety. In this mixed-method study, 254 adult adoptees completed a survey consisting of the K10 (Kessler Distress Inventory) the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale–BREF, open-ended prompts, and demographic items. Results indicated that those who learned of their adoptions from age 3 and older reported more distress and lower life satisfaction when controlling for the amount of time adoptees have known of their adoption statuses and their use of coping strategies. Adoptees also indicated a desire for communicative openness and reported that beneficial coping methods included supportive relationships and seeking contact with birth relatives and other adoptees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1154-1180
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • adjustment
  • adoption disclosure
  • coping
  • family processes
  • late discovery adoptees
  • parent/child relations adoption


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