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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Voices in Adoption: A Narrative Analysis of Stories from Birthmother Cyber Communities

  • Author(s): Deeming, Karen Lisa
  • Advisor(s): Rebhun, Linda-Anne
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

The dynamics of adoption from a closed, sealed records, secretive

endeavor to an open model has conflated the intersection of kinship and

social roles attached to motherhood. These roles are not natural, universal

and unchanging, instead reflecting the reorganization and mutual

understanding of social practices. How do birthmothers negotiate their

motherhood in the absence of a child? My research discusses the changing

nature of birthmother roles as ambiguous, existing outside traditional

Western notions of proper motherhood and reflective of transitional social

relations. I use anonymous narratives from birthmothers which span 6

decades of adoption to argue that birthmothers are creating an active role

and staking their claim to motherhood through proper performance of

motherhood in multiple ways.

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