Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness

Overview

Betty Jean Lifton, whose Lost and Found has become a bible to adoptees and to those who would understand the adoption experience, explores further the inner world of the adopted person. She breaks new ground as she traces the adopted child’s lifelong struggle to form an authentic sense of self. And she shows how both the symbolic and the literal search for roots becomes a crucial part of the journey toward wholeness.

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Journey Of The Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness

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Overview

Betty Jean Lifton, whose Lost and Found has become a bible to adoptees and to those who would understand the adoption experience, explores further the inner world of the adopted person. She breaks new ground as she traces the adopted child’s lifelong struggle to form an authentic sense of self. And she shows how both the symbolic and the literal search for roots becomes a crucial part of the journey toward wholeness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lifton has written before on this highly charged subject (Lost and Found and Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter), but this is a more profound investigation of the trauma she sees as occurring when a child is separated from his or her birth mother and is brought up by people not of his or her blood. Lifton is for "open'' adoption—meaning, to her, not only that the adoptee should have a chance to find out about his or her birth mother, but preferably that both sets of parents should get to know each other. She discourses at length, with reference to myth, legend, folklore, science, psychiatry, as well as to many personal experiences, about the crippling effect of the loss of the birth mother on the adoptee's sense of self; she even cites evidence showing that adoptive sons are more likely than natural ones to murder their parents. Despite one chapter (out of 17) devoted to him, the father's role seems little considered, that of the mother expanded to awe-inspiring proportions. And no attention is paid to the many cases in which the birth mother would not have been the ideal parent, despite the almost mystical qualities with which the author endows her. An eloquent book, but only one side of an argument in which two reasonable sides exist.
Library Journal
Drawing on 50 in-depth interviews and over 20 questionnaires, Lifton details the psychological stages and problems of those who have been adopted. An adoptee herself, Lifton has written Lost and Found and Twice Born. Here she argues that it is crucial for adoptees to know as much as possible about their backgrounds in order to avoid the trauma that adoption can cause. According to the author, "the secret in today's adoptive family is not that the child is adopted but who the child is.'' An extensive appendix of resources including networks, support groups, periodicals, and recommended reading is particularly impressive. This is a thoughtful and useful work for all those with questions about the psychological legacy of adoption. Recommended where demand warrants.
—January Adams, ODSI Research Lib., Raritan, N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465036752
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 693,301
  • Lexile: 1170L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Betty Jean Lifton, Ph.D., has done extensive research and counseling with all members of the adoption triad. She is the author of several books on adoption, including Twice Born: Memoirs of an adopted Daughter and Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience, as well as a young adult novel, I’m Still Me, and a children’s book, Tell Me a Real Adoption Story. She is also the author of The King of Children: A Biography of Janusz Korczak and A Place Called Hiroshima.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I The Self in Crisis
1 Betwixt and Between 3
2 The Mothered/Motherless Self 13
3 The Conspiracy of Silence 21
4 The Hidden Relationship 28
5 The Broken Narrative 36
6 Artificial Self, Forbidden Self 48
7 Stuck in the Life Cycle 65
8 The Antisocial Tendency 88
9 The Adult Child 109
Pt. II The Self in Search
10 The Call to Self 127
11 Alternate Reality 146
12 The Painted Bird 175
13 The Fathered/Fatherless Self 191
14 The Found Adoptee 212
15 The Mark of Oedipus 225
16 The Adoption Tie 241
Pt. III The Self in Transformation
17 Becoming Whole 257
The Best Interests of the Adopted Child 274
Resources 277
The Adoption Reform Network
National Umbrella Network of the Adoption Reform Movement
Birth Parent Support Groups
National and International Registries
Adoptive Parent Groups
Periodicals
Resource/Referral/Counseling Organizations
Recommended Reading
Acknowledgments 299
Notes 303
Index 323
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