Members of the adoption triad, be warned: tenure-seeking academics are studying you!
I just scraped the surface of what appears to be a treasure trove of academic research about adoption. As I was looking for research in another field, I happened upon this little nugget, titled, “Narrative Coherence in Online Stories Told by Members of the Adoption Triad,” by all these people: Leslie Baxter, Kristen Norwood, Bryan Asbury, Amber Jannusch & Kristina M. Scharp.
Heard of it? It’s a 20 page paper published in the Journal of Family Communication about the kinds of stories the adoption community writes about online, and the similarities and differences in the ways these personal adoption experiences are written and explained.
At least, that’s what I think it’s about. I admit, I haven’t gotten through most of it yet. That’s because the first paragraph stopped me in my tracks!
Although adoption is a relatively common way that families are created, it is still a process that results in a family form often perceived as nonnormative, less preferable, and generally inferior to biologically based families (e.g., Fisher, 2003; Harrigan & Braithwaite, 2010). As a consequence, each person involved in the adoption triad (the adoptive parent(s), the adoptee, and the birth mother) often bears some type of stigma, that is, a negatively valenced perception of deviance (Goffman, 1963). The perception of difference and lack of legitimacy that often accompany the adoption experience might motivate members of the adoption triad to formulate narratives which explain and justify their experiences with adoption to others as well as to themselves. As Galvin (2006a) explains, when families depart from normative expectations of family, as adoptive families do, “their definitional processes expand exponentially, rendering their identity highly discourse dependent” (p. 3).
Wow, wow, WOW! There’s so much to discuss here. I’ll start by saying I ain’t mad that a little ol’ birth sibling like me was left out of the equation. I understand there aren’t many blogging about (or who even know about) their experiences.
I agree with this idea that people connected to adoption carry a stigma (according to society’s standards) because our family story is seen as unnatural, inferior, and not normal. We get this stigma despite the fact that MANY, MANY Americans are connected to adoption in some way. Go figure.
So, is this why we’re drawn to write about it? Do adoption bloggers have an affinity for airing out (or justifying) our so-called dirty laundry? Or are we using narratives to try to remove the stigma society undeservedly placed on the adoption triad?
I’ll let you know when I read more from this study. Or when I figure it out for myself. In the meantime please share your thoughts.