In Twice Born (1975), Betty Jean Lifton, an adoptee, documented her personal search for her birth parents, a quest for...

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LOST AND FOUND: The A doption Experience

In Twice Born (1975), Betty Jean Lifton, an adoptee, documented her personal search for her birth parents, a quest for identity as much as for genealogy. This new book is as impassioned as the first, again investing the search with mythical aspects and looking at the institution from all sides of the triangle: adoptee, birth mother, adoptive parents. How important is the blood tie? Is there an adoption syndrome? Some researchers say yes, emphatically, and point to ""genealogical bewilderment, compulsive pregnancy, the roaming phenomenon, and the search for biological relatives as emotional conflicts and behavior patterns whose dynamics are unique to the adoptive condition."" Lifton, who has become almost a clearinghouse for others obsessed, admits that most adoptees make some kind of accommodation. Yet she also insists that search and reunion should be possible for all adoptees, that adoptive parents should realize that their children can meet their birth parents and remain loyal, and that birth mothers are a disenfranchised group, most of whom would prefer some contact--at least once--with the children they relinquished. Her most controversial points: changes in the law should affect not just adoptees and birth parents in the future but also those of the past. And the information should be available at adolescence, when identity doubts are intensified, not just at adulthood. Many will find Lifton's diction both emotional and repetitious, her examples of searches and reunions mixed evidence for her argument. Yet in opening this Pandora's box, she doesn't gloss over the realities, the potential disappointments and inevitable complications. ""It can come down to who suffered most."" A provocative, comprehensive inquiry.

Pub Date: March 20, 1979

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1979