Exploring the ethical implications of the late discovery of adoptive and donor-insemination offspring status

Riley, Helen (2013) Exploring the ethical implications of the late discovery of adoptive and donor-insemination offspring status. Adoption & Fostering, 37(2), pp. 171-187.

[img] Accepted Version (PDF 135kB)
Available to QUT staff and students only | Request a copy from author

View at publisher


Some children adopted under the now discredited period of closed adoption were never told of their adoptive status until it was revealed to them in adulthood. Yet to date, this ‘late-discovery’ experience has received little research attention. Now a new generation of ‘late discoverers’ is emerging as a result of (heterosexual couple) donor insemination (DI) practices. This study of 25 late-discovery participants of either adoptive or (heterosexual couple) DI offspring status reveals ethical concerns particular to the lateness of discovery. Most of the participants were Australian, with the remainder from the UK, USA and Canada. All were asked to give an ‘open’ account of their experience, with four themes or suggestions provided on request. These accounts were added to those available in relevant publications. The analysis employed a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology and all accounts were analysed using an ethical perspective developed by Walker (2006, 2007). The main themes that emerged were: disrupted personal autonomy, betrayal of deep levels of trust and feelings of injustice and diminished self-worth. The lack of recognition of concerns particular to late discovery has resulted in late discoverers (i) feeling unable to regain a sense of personal control, (ii) significantly disrupted relationships with those closest to them and others, including community and institutions, and (iii) feelings of diminished value and self-worth.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 61459
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Adoption, Donor insemination, Late discovery, Identity
DOI: 10.1177/0308575913490496
ISSN: 0308-5759
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > APPLIED ETHICS (220100) > Applied Ethics not elsewhere classified (220199)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 The Author
Deposited On: 22 Jul 2013 00:22
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 14:16

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page