“No more secrets, it’s over!”: Small stories about late adoption disclosure from Chilean adults

Salvo, I. and Poveda, D. (2023, online first). “No more secrets, it’s over!”: Small stories about late adoption disclosure from Chilean adults. Journal of Family Studies. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13229400.2023.2211047

Today there is broad consensus that adoptive parents should initiate open communication early and continue talking about adoption throughout their children’s lives. However, a significant group of adopted adults do not know their adoptive origin and learn about it late in their lives, especially in Latin American countries where closed adoption systems dominate. Within a broader narrative study carried out in Chile, in this article we analyse a subset of 14 narrative interviews of people adopted domestically who underwent processes of late adoption disclosure. We draw from a small stories approach (Georgakopoulou, 2015) and identify a narrative structure for accidental and late disclosure experiences. We focus on three dimensions of the communicative experience narrated by participants: (1) the spatio-temporal situatedness of disclosure, (2) the construction of family emotions, and (3) the issue of the ‘right age for disclosure’. Focusing on these dimensions is particularly relevant because the narratives of adult Chilean adoptees seem to depart significantly from current master narratives on how families should talk about adoption. Finally, we discuss our findings in relation to adoptive identity construction processes, current debates regarding communication in adoptive families and origin search processes, and the implications for specialized professional interventions in this area.

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