Interesting study (2007) on adult adoptees…

I Sat In Silent Musing did a post recently that highlighted Adoption Reconstruction Phase Theory.  It piqued my interest and I searched hoping to find I could get access to the paper.  I did and jotted down few notes while reading the paper, and even though I’m only half way through it, I’m posting it here to share.  I have to say, I think the study is good, not because it tells me what I want to hear, but in the way it was done, and questions asked.  You need to read the entire paper, it’s worth the time.

From my reading, this study came about as a result of a different study Borders et al. (2000).  Respondents to this study came from the original study.  They were originally recruited primarily from a statewide adoption and foster care agency in North Carolina.  Some that had contact with the agency in the previous 5 years were sent letters, others responded to a notice in the agencies newsletter.  Overall, for this second study they ended up with 100 respondents between the ages of 35-55, with an average age of 42.7 years.  78% women, 70% married, 78% had children, 57% college grads, 35% had completed some college, 88% were middle class or higher, 100% adopted as infants, 84% in North Carolina, 75% were placed through a cooperating adoption agency.

The study tested the hypothesis that there were 5 adoption reconstruction phases for the adult adoptee.  Read the study to get descriptions of each phase below.

  1. No Awareness/Denying Awareness (Ignorance Is Bliss)
  2. Emerging Awareness (Curiosity Killed the Cat)
  3. Drowning in Awareness (Ill as a Hornet/Mad as Hell)
  4. Re-emerging From Awareness (Rising From the Ashes)
  5. Finding Peace (Let It Be)

Reconstruction of Adoption Issues: Delineation of Five Phases Among Adult Adoptees Judith Penny, L. DiAnne Borders, and Francie Portnoy

Interested in your thoughts…

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5 comments

  1. cb

    Interesting survey. I’m not sure I fit entirely in any group. I do feel like I’m at the integrating stage when it comes to my own personal “issues” and I don’t feel anger at any of the people in my adoption. I think I’m at a stage where I understand that things are complex and that many answers might not ever be forthcoming and that’s “OK”. At the same time, I don’t want to be placed in a box or defined as one thing or the other.

    Also, I do think there are many adoptees who are also trying to think “beyond” themselves and look at adoption as a whole and who may have anger/frustration/irritation as to how things are and how they became that way.

    Also, one of the main problems with talking about adoption is that half the time, many of those in the conversation have different interpretations of what adoption is, eg many may be talking about the general basic meaning of adoption and others may specifically be talking about the western version of adoption. I think it can help the conversation if one specifies what one is talking about and then specify the issues.

    I think often looking beyond adoption at child welfare history in general and even just how people have lived in the past can help. Like others on here, I do have an interest in genealogy and that does give an insight into how people lived in the past and one realised things weren’t so simple back then either.

    I actually also try to read blogs from those with completely different views of adoption (not that I have that much time to read too many) including the very positive ones and others in between – I prefer the personal journey type of blogs because they give more of an insight into the person and one can see that the person has very complex views.

    As I said above, in the end, I don’t know that I really belong in any of the phases – I think I have hovering on 4&5 and although I don’t have anger towards any of the people in my adoption, I think there are flaws with the adoption system. I also feel that it often seems that some of the feelings that considered ideal for an adoptee to have are not necessarily feelings that are expected in anyone else. I think also that studies designed for one purposes are often used for other purposes. Anyway, all that is not really relevant to this conversation – I just mentioned them because they are things that I’m trying to explore, amongst other things.

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    • TAO

      I think I have hit all of them. The questioning of the way adoption is practiced is a large part for many adoptees I think. When something is so personal it makes it important to see what should be changed. One thing that infuriates me no end is the lack of process improvement when it means the adoption industry will have to change – vs. – very quick to lobby for reduced waiting times, not things like every state should protect a minor expectant parent by having a lawyer assigned by the state to ensure she’s protected. It just becomes massive hypocrisy.

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  2. beth62

    I think I am hovering around 4 and 5 too. Out of the ashes, dusted off, pretty peaceful, but occasionally fall and get more ashes on me.
    I like the 5 phases, have experienced the 5, agree with the 5 🙂

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  3. beth62

    Have been thinking on this one, hard not to.
    Came up with:
    I can deal with 4 and 5, and an occasional 3 when triggered by things that make me angry, rightfully angry.

    1 and 2? – so glad I do not ever have to go back there.
    I hope anyway, yikes, do you think it is possible to go back to 1 and 2?
    Please everyone say NO! LOL ’cause I could NOT deal with that, I really couldn’t.
    I could not do it again.

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