10/2022: Late Discovery Adoptees


We the Experts: Late Discovery Adoptees

**This is a recording of our We the Experts event on October 8, 2022.**

A ‘LDA’ is someone who has discovered they are adopted later in life. On this panel four adult adoptees will share their experiences of discovering in adulthood they had been adopted. We will discuss how they navigated deception, betrayal, identity confusion, and disorganization upon learning the truth. In addition, our panelists will share their thoughts on:

  • Feelings of connectedness or disconnectedness to the adoptee community
  • What belonging means
  • How self-reflection shifts
  • Rebuilding a foundation of self
  • Forgiveness & anger

Carlyn Montes De Oca is the award-winning author of “Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse.” A former film editor and acupuncturist, she now blogs and speaks to audiences about the power of the animal-human bond. In 2019 at the age of 57, Carlyn discovered she was adopted after taking a DNA test for fun. This is the subject of her November release book, “Junkyard Girl: A Memoir of Ancestry, Family Secrets, and Second Chances.” A long-time resident of Northern California, she now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, Ken Fischer, an award-winning sound editor and their beloved rescue dog, Grace. Carlyn is excited and honored to be on this panel because as an LDA, she’s discovered that sharing our stories and connecting with others on the same path is an essential part of our healing process.

Kris Rao is a late discovery adoptee. He learned about his adoption in 2019 when he took a DNA test for fun. Those results confirmed a suspicion he always had growing up but just never had an answer for. Kris blogs, tweets, and shares his experience on Instagram. He’s still trying to search for his family while navigating his past, present, and future as a displaced person. Kris is looking forward to being on this panel to educate on the importance of being honest with the children in your care.

Lani Faith, born in Portland in 1964, is a late discovery adoptee x2! She first found out -at age 27 – she was adopted and met her biological family 7 years later. Mother/Father/Brother/Sister. Later, learning at age 50, from her birth mother that she also had two half-siblings, born prior to her that had been placed for adoption. As of September ’22 she is in reunion with all of them. Lani served on the board of Adoption Mosaic and has extensive nor-for-profit leadership experience and is currently leading a new capital campaign for the Dougy Center.

As an only child, Jay Johnson discovered he was adopted at age 40, several years after his adoptive parents died. To this day he has not met the anonymous source who revealed this secret to him. Aside from conversations with one relative to confirm his adoption status, he has been forced to piece together his story alone and discover his roots on 23andMe. As he seeks to uncover his own story, he helps others tell theirs as a brand & marketing strategist. He is excited to be on this panel to offer a wider spectrum of experience to other late discovery adoptees and to show that anger and resentment does not have to be part of the LDA process. He is excited to be a part of this panel to offer a positive LDA experience and to show that one’s identity is defined internally rather than by life circumstances.

RIDGHAUS relinquished a son at age 19 and then later, at the age of 35, learned that he himself had been relinquished and adopted. He is the co-creator of the documentary film Six Word Adoption Memoirs, which has been shown to rave reviews and many tears at various adoption conferences nationwide. Ridghaus has a Master’s degree in English Composition and Literature and has taught university-level writing and media courses, including poetry, for the last 20 years. He is interested in supporting this panel because late discovery adoptees experience some difficult tumult as he went through and has seen hundreds of times in our private FB group since. He would like to be available for other LDAs as they traverse this new landscape in their lives.


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