Conceived through rape/incest? Adoptive parents’ experiences managing uncertainty and disclosure surrounding their children's origins
Adoptive parents may be placed with children conceived under difficult circumstances, such as via rape or incest. At the same time, adoptive parents are generally encouraged to communicate openly with their children about their adoption stories and birth families. No research has examined the experiences of parents who adopt children who were conceived through rape or incest. This exploratory study examines how parents discuss their decision-making when adopting children conceived via rape or incest, how they manage varying levels of uncertainty about their children's origins, and whether and how they plan to disclose this information to children. The researchers used thematic analysis to examine the experiences of 11 couples (22 parents) interviewed at four time points after adopting children who were reportedly conceived via rape or incest. Findings revealed that even soon after adopting, parents discussed the need to eventually talk to their children about their conception circumstances. Parents generally struggled to determine how and when to disclose this information, particularly when they felt uncertain about the veracity of the conception stories they had been told. Some hoped to rely on professionals or birth mothers to guide them in these communications. Findings have implications for supporting adoptive families as they navigate the complexity of managing sensitive information and uncertainty when adopting children conceived through rape or incest. Practitioners should provide ongoing guidance to adoptive parents about how and when to disclose developmentally appropriate information to children about difficult conception circumstances.
Goldberg, Abbie E.; Manley, Melissa H.; Frost, Reihonna L.; and McCormick, Nora M., "Conceived through rape/incest? Adoptive parents’ experiences managing uncertainty and disclosure surrounding their children's origins" (2020). Psychology. 318.