An exploratory study of the search and reunion dynamics experienced by adoptees

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Sparrow, Jan-Margaret
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Previous adoption literature is plagued by a lack of information regarding the search and reunion process experienced by adoptees who have made contact with their biological mother/father. Adoption reunion studies have typically involved the use of standardized measures and questionnaires containing fixed choice responses and have often not included the perspective of the adoptee him/herself. This study improved on the weaknesses of past studies through the use of in-depth, unstructured interviews with eight adoptees who had been through the search and reunion experience and who were able to share this experience. The grounded theory method of analysis was used in order to generate theory that would explain the dynamics of the search and reunion process. This emerging theory was termed "claiming acknowledgment." Four concepts were developed in the search for the core variable "claiming acknowledgment." They were "solving the identity puzzle", "threat of betrayal", "drivenness", and "control". It was discovered that adoptees have identity gaps as a result of their lack of biological historical information. The search for their biological parents was a quest for completeness; to fill in those gaps. The search process often involved a threat of betrayal toward the adoptee's adoptive parents, who felt that the adoptee's loyalties might shift toward the biological parent(s). Regardless of this threat, adoptees were driven to find their answers in the form of a face to face meeting with their biological mother/father. They had a desire to restore control into their lives by conducting a search on their own terms, that would restore their natural birthright back to them. These concepts fit together to form the core variable called "claiming acknowledgment". Regardless of the outcome of the reunion, the adoptees were able to claim acknowledgment from their biological parent(s). (Abstract shortened by UMI.)