The Archeology of Adoption: Tracing the Journey from Birth Through Adoption

Adults adopted in childhood often face a heightened susceptibility to psychological and
behavioral challenges compared with their non-adopted peers. Scholars examining this
phenomenon associate various factors, including an adoptee’s sense of self as an individual
within a complex adoption background. This qualitative study utilized a material engagement
theory to explore birth through adoptive narratives among adults adopted in closed settings
during childhood. Through participatory research, participants examined a range of artifacts
related to maternal relinquishment, encompassing foster and adoption records, original birth
certificates, letters, photographs, birthmarks, clothing, hair, scars, and DNA test results. The
study focused on understanding these artifacts’ societal and cultural influence in shaping
adoptive identity. Data analysis contextualized the social, economic, cultural, and historic
elements surrounding maternal relinquishment. Through their engagement with artifacts,
participants gained crucial insights into their identities, uncovering adoption-related secrets while clarifying the complexities of their birth through adoption narratives.

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