Special Issue "Adoption Experiences and the Tracing and Narration of Family Genealogies"

A special issue of Genealogy (ISSN 2313-5778).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Derek Kirton

Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NF, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: child welfare, adoption, foster care, access to care records, identity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue of Genealogy invites essays on the topic of ‘Adoption Experiences and the Tracing and Narration of Family Genealogies’.

With its inherent genealogical disruptions, adoption provides a perfect avenue to generate what Amy Smith (Genealogy, 1,1) has described as ‘stories from the margin’ as a means to better understand genealogical processes. Experiences of (un)belonging and (dis)connectedness must be addressed through the complex set of relationships between two families, and in many cases differences of class, community, race, ethnicity or nation. These can usefully be further explored in their intersections with issues of gender and sexual orientation and through their spatial and temporal dimensions.

Interests in identity, searching and reunion or the degrees of openness and closure within adoption are obvious areas for analysis, but also articulate with much wider processes of making and narrating meaning, for example in oral and written forms. While adoption is in itself closely linked with genealogical concerns, there is also considerable scope for the use of genealogical methods to study its history and discourses and interrogate received wisdom on their pathways, as shown by authors such as Sally Sales in her book ‘Adoption, Family and the Paradox of Origins’. Thus, the overarching purpose of the special issue is to encourage insights and development in genealogical studies through work from the field of adoption and in turn, to explore the value of genealogical methods to understandings of adoption.

Papers are invited from any relevant disciplinary backgrounds, addressing but not limited to the topics listed below:

Searching, tracing, reunions

Open adoption

Access to records

Identities and genealogy—personal and social, hybridity, essentialism, fluidity

Genealogical bewilderment

Naming practices

Writing genealogy—guides for adopted people,

Writing genealogy—accounts in popular culture

Social media, internet, adoption and genealogy

Family stories and genealogy (including those of birth and adoptive families)

Secrets & lies in genealogy

Transracial adoption and genealogy

International adoption and genealogy

Authoethnography and genealogy

Genealogical communities and activism

Oral history and memory

Adoption professionals’ work with genealogical issues

Dr. Derek Kirton

Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Genealogy is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • genealogy
  • genealogical methods
  • adoption
  • adoption triangle
  • identity
  • kinship
  • belonging
  • transracial adoption
  • international adoption
  • open adoption
  • Narrative

Published Papers (9 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-9
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Other

Open AccessArticle
Damaged Attachments & Family Dislocations: The Operations of Class in Adoptive Family Life
Received: 1 August 2018 / Revised: 8 December 2018 / Accepted: 9 December 2018 / Published: 13 December 2018
PDF Full-text (217 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper is an initial exploration of an under researched area in the field of contemporary adoption—the impact of class on adoptive family life. The first part of the paper argues that whilst class is structurally present in adoption work, the effects of [...] Read more.
This paper is an initial exploration of an under researched area in the field of contemporary adoption—the impact of class on adoptive family life. The first part of the paper argues that whilst class is structurally present in adoption work, the effects of class difference have been a neglected dimension of practice. This neglect of class in adoption reflects its elision in the wider social field. It isn’t that class stratification has materially or economically disappeared but that the inequalities it installs are concealed through a new privileging of individualism. This individualizing of social problems places new regimes of responsibility upon both individuals and parents. This section concludes with an exploration of the intensive field of contemporary parenting, where social background is considered unimportant. It is argued that attachment theory has become a dominant paradigm for parenting in both adoption and the wider social field because its classed notions of parenting are concealed. The second part of the paper draws upon a small scale qualitative study with one local authority adoption team where adoptive parents and birth parents were interviewed about class and parenting. Working classness assumed a structuring importance in terms of the interview material, as most participants were from this class background. Two areas are particularly foregrounded: the degree to which adopted children’s class differences are interpreted as attachment difficulties and the degree to which middle-classness operates as a silent measure for successful parenting in substitute care. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Close Relations? The Long-Term Outcomes of Adoption Reunions
Received: 14 July 2018 / Revised: 24 September 2018 / Accepted: 30 September 2018 / Published: 2 October 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (240 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There has been a number of studies on the outcomes of adoption reunions, most of which have focussed on relatively ‘fresh’ reunions. Very few studies have looked at long-term outcomes. Fewer still have discussed reunions and kinship with controversy over firstly, the longevity [...] Read more.
There has been a number of studies on the outcomes of adoption reunions, most of which have focussed on relatively ‘fresh’ reunions. Very few studies have looked at long-term outcomes. Fewer still have discussed reunions and kinship with controversy over firstly, the longevity of reunions, and secondly, what such reunions might engender regarding the relative kinship statuses of adoptive and birth families. This paper critically discusses the existing literature on reunions and kinship, and then reports on the long-term outcomes of 200 ‘matches’ on the Adoption Contact Register for Scotland between 1996–2006, presenting qualitative detail from the 75 respondents who completed questionnaires and sent in stories. The paper invites us to think about how adoption can form an adoptive family and deform a birth family, and how adoption reunions re-form both and everyone included. However, it will especially focus on what a coming together of two people separated by adoption means for the way that they frame their relationship with each other and those around them. Full article
Open AccessArticle
From Both Sides of the Atlantic: Black German Adoptee Searches in William Gage’s Geborener Deutscher (Born German)
Received: 3 August 2018 / Revised: 18 September 2018 / Accepted: 24 September 2018 / Published: 1 October 2018
PDF Full-text (206 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
William Gage’s Geborener Deutscher, a print newsletter distributed by traditional mail from the late 1980s until 2003, and the eponymous Internet forum Gage established in 2000 on Yahoo Groups, provide search resources and community support specifically for German born adoptees. The archived newsletters [...] Read more.
William Gage’s Geborener Deutscher, a print newsletter distributed by traditional mail from the late 1980s until 2003, and the eponymous Internet forum Gage established in 2000 on Yahoo Groups, provide search resources and community support specifically for German born adoptees. The archived newsletters and conversations offer early insight into the search and reunion activities of many who were transnationally adopted to the United States as infants and small children in the wake of the Second World War. Among Gage’s mailing list and Yahoo Group subscribers are members of the post-war cohort of Black German Americans living in Germany and in the US. Gage’s archive provides a unique opportunity to begin to explore Black German adoptee search, reunion, and community development over nearly a two-decade span. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Legitimacy and the Transfer of Children: Adoption, Belonging, and Online Genealogy
Received: 8 August 2018 / Revised: 25 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 September 2018 / Published: 20 September 2018
PDF Full-text (263 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A great deal of both scholarly and public attention has been paid to questions of nature versus nurture in understanding identity and family construction in adoptees, yet much less attention has been given to the ways that power shapes the social reproduction of [...] Read more.
A great deal of both scholarly and public attention has been paid to questions of nature versus nurture in understanding identity and family construction in adoptees, yet much less attention has been given to the ways that power shapes the social reproduction of families through adoption. In this feminist interdisciplinary self-reflexive ethnographic research, I enter the world of online genealogy sites to critically explore the social practice of constructing a family tree as an adoptee. I explore genealogy as a culturally and historically specific representation of patriarchal heteronormative whiteness. I argue that adoptees’ liminal locations between socially understood categories of nature and nurture embedded in online family heritage websites make evident the ways that genealogical templates and stories reproduce mainstream family ideology through the erasure of “illegitimacy”. I consider what I found in my adoptive family history, critically exploring my “legitimate” relationship to my family in relation to the “illegitimate” (and unrecognized) relationship between my family and an enslaved child transferred as property between family members in 1813. This research makes visible power inequalities governing family reproduction at macro levels by exploring the contradictions and slippages regarding family “legitimacy” in micro level online genealogical constructions of adoptees’ family trees. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Receiving, or ‘Adopting’, Donated Embryos to Have Children: Parents Narrate and Draw Kinship Boundaries
Received: 8 August 2018 / Revised: 14 September 2018 / Accepted: 17 September 2018 / Published: 19 September 2018
PDF Full-text (2107 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Correction
Abstract
Existing research suggests that embryo donation (ED) may be seen as similar to adoption by those who donate or receive embryos, or it may not. Our qualitative study explored whether having a child via embryo donation initiated kinship connections between embryo donor and [...] Read more.
Existing research suggests that embryo donation (ED) may be seen as similar to adoption by those who donate or receive embryos, or it may not. Our qualitative study explored whether having a child via embryo donation initiated kinship connections between embryo donor and recipient families as interpreted by recipient parents. Interviews were conducted with five parents from four families whose child(ren) had been born via embryo donation. All four families had an open-contact relationship set up with the couples who donated their embryos through an agency in the USA. Narrative thematic analysis of interview data and visual family map drawings were used to explore kinship conceptualizations. We conclude that the dilemma experienced by parents who have a child via embryo donation is to decide how to reconcile their child’s different genetic heritage, when gestation and upbringing both clearly boundary family membership solely within the recipient family. While some families were still struggling with this dilemma, one solution embarked upon by some parents when drawing their family map was to expand family membership, not only on the basis of genetics, but also via an appreciation of shared family and community values too. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
“I’m More Than Just Adopted”: Stories of Genealogy in Intercountry Adoptive Families
Received: 4 July 2018 / Revised: 19 July 2018 / Accepted: 25 July 2018 / Published: 6 August 2018
PDF Full-text (1845 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In contrast to the historical ‘blank slate’ approach to adoption, current policy places significant emphasis on providing children with knowledge; family history; biological connections; stories, a genealogy upon which to establish an authentic identity. The imperative for this complex, and often incomplete, genealogy [...] Read more.
In contrast to the historical ‘blank slate’ approach to adoption, current policy places significant emphasis on providing children with knowledge; family history; biological connections; stories, a genealogy upon which to establish an authentic identity. The imperative for this complex, and often incomplete, genealogy is also explicit within the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption established in 1993 to ensure that intercountry adopted children will be provided with a genealogical ‘heritage’. Yet, despite the recurring dominance of this approach, ‘heritage’ remains an ambiguous dictum which holds the expectation that adopted children should have access to any available birth/first family information and acquire cultural competence about an often distant and removed birth country. Providing such heritage becomes the responsibility of intercountry adoptive parents. It is therefore unsurprising that this role has become part of how intercountry adoptive parents perform and display their parenting and family practices before and after adoption (Richards 2014a; 2018). Such family work is explicit in the stories that parents and children coconstruct about birth family, abandonment, China, and the rights of adopted children to belong first and foremost to a birth country. Using qualitative data provided by a social worker, eleven girls aged between five and twelve, and their parents, this article explores the role and changing significance of narratives as familial strategies for delivering such heritage obligations. Outlined in this discussion is the compulsion to provide a genealogical heritage by adoptive parents which can ultimately be resisted by their daughters as they seek alternative and changing narratives through which to construct their belongings and identities. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Class, Shame, and Identity in Memoirs about Difficult Same-Race Adoptions by Jeremy Harding and Lori Jakiela
Received: 25 June 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 6 August 2018
PDF Full-text (202 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper will discuss two search memoirs with widely divergent results by British Jeremy Harding and American Lori Jakiela, in which the memoirists recount discoveries about their adoptive parents, as well as their birth parents. While in both cases the adoptions are same-race, [...] Read more.
This paper will discuss two search memoirs with widely divergent results by British Jeremy Harding and American Lori Jakiela, in which the memoirists recount discoveries about their adoptive parents, as well as their birth parents. While in both cases the adoptions are same-race, both provide material for analysis of class and class mobility. Both searchers discover that the adoption, in more blatant ways than usual, was aimed at improving the parents’ lives—impressing a rich relative or distracting from the trauma of past sexual abuse—rather than benefiting the adoptee. They also discover the importance of various kinds of shame: for example, Harding discovers that his adoptive mother hid the close connection that she had had with his birthmother, because she was trying to rise in class. Jakiela imagines the humiliation her birthmother experienced as she tries to understand her resistance to reunion. Both memoirists recall much childhood conflict with their adoptive parents but speculate about how much of their personalities come from their influence. Both narrate changes in their attitudes about their adoption; neither one settles for a simple choice of either adoptive or birth identity. Contrasts in their memoirs relate especially to gender, nation, class, and attitudes to fictions. Full article

Other

Jump to: Research

Open AccessCorrection
Correction: Receiving, or ‘Adopting’, Donated Embryos to Have Children: Parents Narrate and Draw Kinship Boundaries
Received: 8 August 2018 / Accepted: 17 September 2018 / Published: 18 January 2019
PDF Full-text (164 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The authors wish to make the following corrections to this paper published in Genealogy (Tasker et al., 2018), reflecting regrettable misrepresentation of one research participant’s experience [...] Full article
Open AccessCreative
So Many Lovely Girls
Received: 7 June 2018 / Revised: 6 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 August 2018 / Published: 24 August 2018
PDF Full-text (521 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A little over 20 years ago I was reunited with my daughter, who had been adopted at the age of six weeks. We have become friends since then and I felt I owed it to her to explain the circumstances surrounding her birth [...] Read more.
A little over 20 years ago I was reunited with my daughter, who had been adopted at the age of six weeks. We have become friends since then and I felt I owed it to her to explain the circumstances surrounding her birth and relinquishment. I have done this as an adult, in conversation with her, but there is only so much we can say to each other face to face. She knows my adult self but I wanted her to understand how my teenage self felt about losing a child, and to understand the shame surrounding illegitimacy at the time she was born. In the 1960s in England, “bastard” was still a dirty word. My parents dealt with the shame of my pregnancy by never speaking of it. They built a wall of silence. It took me 30 years to climb that wall: The attitudes I encountered as a teenager have not disappeared altogether. The shame of teenage pregnancy is still very much an issue in Ireland, for instance. The events I have written about took place in the late 60s in England, and I have tried to give a picture of the culture of the time. Women who gave birth to illegitimate children in the 60s and into the 70s were judged harshly by doctors and nurses and treated with less care than married women. So Many Lovely Girls is an extract from a longer memoir piece, which could be termed relational, because it deals with an intimate relationship, but I prefer the classification of autogynography, a term coined by feminist critic Donna Stanton in The Female Autograph. Stanton uses the term to differentiate women’s life writing from men’s. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Genealogy EISSN 2313-5778 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top