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Title: Rocking the boat : a qualitative study of the experiences of adopted adults making contact with their birth relatives
Author: Sporton, Hilary
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 2561
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2014
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The law change in 1976 in England and Wales enabled adopted people to access their original birth information and trace their biological relatives; a process previously denied to them. Recent research suggests that the search and reunion process may hold beneficial consequences for those involved. However this area is under-researched, particularly in the UK and within psychology as a discipline; additionally little qualitative research has been carried out. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve participants who were adopted and had made contact with their biological relatives and Foucauldian Discourse Analysis used to explore the discourses they employed and encountered. Nine main discourses were identified: 'Adoption is a gift', 'Adoption is a process of loss, abandonment and grief, 'Search and reunion is a betrayal', 'Responsibility to know your medical, biological and psychological history', 'Family discourses', 'Illegitimacy', 'Search and reunion is undertaken by unstable people', 'Birth information is destabilising requiring state intervention', 'Search and reunion is destabilising'. The analysis revealed contradictory and conflicting discourses where searching for certain information was understood as reasonable; however, actual direct contact between the two parties (reunion) and post-reunion relationships were made problematic. This study proposes that these discourses are linked to search and reunion as having a perceived power to destabilise the 'traditional' family units of the adoptive and of the birth family. There is also the potential to destabilise the adoption process and search and reunion is thus discouraged by many discourses. Due to the lack of research in this area using this methodology, further areas of potential research were suggested with particular reference to the relevance of this research to donor conceived persons. Limitations of the study are discussed and clinical implications addressed
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available