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A legitimate choice and voice: the experience of adult adoptees who have chosen not to search for their biological families

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Abstract:

Although the phenomenon of searching for biological parentage by adoptees has been well documented over the last decade, limited attention has been paid to the experience of those people who decide not to search. Heather Roche and Amaryll Perlesz present the findings from an Australian pilot project in which the experiences of three mature non-searching, adult adoptees were explored in depth. The findings indicate that the decision to search or not to search reflects an ongoing developmental life process congruent with the social and familial context of the adoptee. Loyalty to their adoptive family, comfort with and commitment to birth parents, the co-existence of a strong ethic of reciprocity, and an ethic of self-discovery and belief in a spiritual connectedness with a 'bigger Other' emerged as the most predominant reasons for not searching for their biological roots.

The narration of their adoption stories had a very positive impact on the participants in this study. The paper concludes that there is a need for further in-depth, qualitative studies of this sort to witness and honour the adoption experience regardless of 'search' status.

Keywords: ADOPTEES' DECISION NOT TO SEARCH FOR BIRTH FAMILIES; ADOPTION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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