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'I have no beginning and no end': the experience of being a foundling

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Audrey Mullender , Anita Pavlovic and Victoria Staples report on the second stage of a study of abandonment conducted at the University of Warwick in 2002–03. Interviews with ten adults who had been 'foundlings' revealed a wealth of thoughts and feelings that were often significantly different from those of other adopted people. Abandonment is harder to talk about and perhaps harder to come to terms with than adoption alone. The profound ignorance about identity, encompassing such fundamental details as original name, ethnicity and date of birth, also marks out foundlings as having particular issues to come to terms with. Nevertheless, those interviewed had grown out of being angry towards their birth mothers and wondered what they must have gone through to do something so desperate. Birth records counselling and attempts at tracing back to the earliest months of life were of limited use. NORCAP had been supportive to a number but, again, could not get past the lack of information. Much more could be done to help in policy and practice terms, notably by extending the Adoption Contact Register in specific ways that would help foundlings. Beyond this, decriminalising and facilitating abandonment are major social policy questions overdue for consideration in the UK.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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