The term, Late Discovery Adoptee, refers to people who discover later in life that they were adopted as infants or small children. Many of the people that we talk to here at Search Quest America who are LDA’s have been absolutely blindsided when they discover the truth about their adoptions.

Most had no inkling that they were not born into the families that raised them, and many find themselves ‘displaced’ in their sense of self, not knowing the truth of their birth or origins. However many report having always felt like they were on the outside looking in during their childhood and could not understand why. While growing up many also felt disassociated from their parents and siblings because their likes, talents and interests were so dissimilar that they had nothing in common on a personal level other than they were a member of the family.

Historically, there was a period in time between 1940 and the mid 1960’s where social workers or adoption agencies discouraged adoptive parents from telling their children that they were adopted. Adoption was often a Taboo topic and was ‘not’ discussed openly. After the mid 1960’s adoption became more commonplace and as well known movie stars or public figures expanded their families by adoption, the subject became acceptable and newsworthy. However we are still hearing from LDA’s who were born after that time frame whose parents for reasons unknown, never disclosed the adoption to their child during childhood or adulthood.

I recently heard from a gentleman in his 60’s who, upon the death of his mother, was going through documents for the attorney for her estate and discovered his entire adoption record in a brown accordion envelope. He immediately called his brother and asked if he knew anything about an adoption in the family. His brother (also adopted) said of course we’re adopted, didn’t you know? He did not. This discovery set his whole world in turmoil. He had based his entire sense of self on a family history that while his by adoption, was not truly his by blood. He went through a period of intense anger because in his eyes, everyone that loved and had believed in throughout his life had ‘lied’ to him about a fundamental issue of truth. It was unconscionable to him that they had continued to keep ‘the secret’.

Even more disturbing, in recent years we’ve been told, several times, that upon the death of one or more ‘adoptive’ parents, late discovery adoptees have been cut off from extended family members because they are not really ‘blood’ and now that the direct tie to the family is deceased they don’t need to consider the adoptee ‘family’. If there is a sizeable ‘family’ estate or trust fund involved, late discover adoptees may find themselves in a bitter legal dispute with other beneficiaries who submit the argument that the adoptee is not ‘blood’ therefore has no legal entitlement as an heir to the estate. Strained relationships are often irrevocably broken when this occurs.

If you are just now finding out that you are a late discovery adoptee, there are steps that you can take to discover the truth or your birth and adoption. Please check out ‘starting’ advice for an adoptee in search, and good luck to you!

Susan E. Friel-Williams
CEO Search Quest America