THESIS DEFENCE: Vanessa Bork, “Intergenerational Voices of Adoption”
Supervisor: Dr. Janelle Kwee, CPSY
Second Reader: Dr. Krista Socholotiuk, SFU
External Examiner: Dr. Jose Domene, UCalgary
Exam Chair: Dr. Todd Martin, FHSS
Adoption is a life-long process for adoptees, but little is known about what adoptees experience as they move through adulthood. Stories are one means by which individuals make sense of the people and events that have come before them, and thus come to understand and express themselves in their unique voices, as well. Feminist scholarship refers to “voice” as a metaphor of the embodied experience of self-in-relationships. This research explored narratives in families of adult adoptees with the following research questions: What voices are heard in the passing down of an adoption story? What voices are heard in the adoptees? What voices are heard in the adult children encountering their parents’ narratives? Five mother-child(ren) dyads and triads were selected for participation based on the parent having been adopted in infancy and raised by an adoptive family, and their child having grown up with an awareness of their parent as an adoptee. The feminist relational method of the listening guide (Gilligan, Spencer, Weinberg, & Bertsch, 2003). was employed in order to hear the rich and layered stories of adoption that were passed from one generation to the next. Parent and adult child(ren) were interviewed together in order to witness the relational dynamics of their story construction and sharing. Interviews were analyzed for the different voices that emerged in the participants’ stories. The findings of this study suggest that parents passed down stories of positive adoption experiences through voices that were both strong in their embrace of adoption and also cautious or restricting at times. The biological children of the adoptees spoke from voices of embrace and curiosity about adoption.