I stumbled on an interesting study from 2011 on Adoptees and how our “Adoption Entrance Narratives” may shape how we view our adoption. It’s relatively short and starts off on how adoption researchers rely heavily on minute differences between the adopted and non-adopted children, and how they need to take a more nuanced understanding of the self-concept variables in the adopted population. (Ya think…)
The study then talks about how the Adoption Entrance Narratives play a role in how we (adoptees) integrate adoption and our adoption story into our own narrative. It also notes that adoptees have to work to understand the “layers of complexity” to get there, which to me means all the why questions I’d guess every adoptee knows all to well, and yes, I’ve asked all those why questions, and I’ve adapted my adoption story and added context to it as I delved into it over the years.
I got interested while reading the paragraph below that created the first research question that acknowledged prior research focused on the adoptive parents point of view. Not shocked at all that research focuses on the adoptive parents over the one adopted. It’s always been that way, why I think adoptive parents chime in when a question is asked to adoptees.
“Thus, adoptees’ version of their stories likely illuminates the theorized connection between family stories and individual identity development, yet research to date has neglected the adoptees’ versions of their stories. Researcher on adoption storytelling has focused solely on the parents’ point of view (Grotevant et al., 1999; Krusiewicz & Wood, 2001). Although this is valuable information, an understanding of adoptees’ perceptions and internalization of these parental messages will provide researchers with an understanding of how these communicative forces play out in adoptees’ lives. Thus, we pose the following research question:”
RQ1: What are the themes in adoption entrance narratives from the perspective of adopted individuals?
It sparked my interest so I saved it to read later. It’s worth your time to read and it’s less than 12 pages long with parts you can skip. Page 10 has a table of Adoption Entrance Narratives each with it’s on theme:
The Adoption Entrance Narrative Categories Themes are: Openness, Deception, Chosen Child, Fate, Difference, Rescue, Reconnection.
There are lots of tidbits woven into the study and I think you need to read it yourself. I found it interesting and have tried to ask myself which Adoption Entrance Narrative category I’d fit in, and it’s complicated, and I think I’m a mix of Openness, Difference, Reconnection, and yes, even the Chosen Child. And below I’ll try to explain why I think I’m a mixed bag of specific categories.
Openness – neither mom or dad shied away from talking to us about adoption, why they adopted, what they knew of our stories; nor were they shy telling others they adopted us, or why they adopted. It was never in a we saved them way, just a matter of fact this is ‘who we are’ way – take it or leave it. And most readers know mom and dad opened a siblings adoption, and when I asked mom to petition for cause to unseal my records, she did. So from the BSE there were some parents like mine who weren’t insecure or worried about secrecy.
Chosen Child – yes, I know it sounds strange for me to identify that category, but mom had said no to the SW twice when asked to adopt me for very good reasons based on her life, not me. Then Dad said yes, and that was that. My reality if mom and dad hadn’t adopted me was that maybe over time the county SW would have found me a home, the other reality was growing up in foster care or a children’s home. Those were the only realities because when I was 4 days old, my mother had gone before the judge and relinquished her parental rights, the deal was done and no going back. Note my family didn’t know I didn’t have a home to go to, they assumed I did, and I actually was, but then, I was taken out of that home, they never told mom why, so, yet another mystery in my adoption story.
Difference – physically, I was the odd one out in the family, I had no physical similarity to any of them, I stood out as the odd man out, nothing you could even try to say we had in common. I was similar to dad in quite a few way, both personality and interests for the most part, but I was also different from him in other ways, so not sure if this category fits for me.
Reconnection – I remember going through the personal ads every year on my birthday looking for a coded message from my mother, there never was, but even after I moved away, I had a friend check the local paper for me. So I always wanted to reconnect and never feared doing so.
If you read the study – what did you think?