SO YOU'RE ADOPTED by Fred Powledge


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Powledge, who was himself adopted ""more than 45 years ago,"" talks informally with other adoptees about some of the questions and feelings they might have. Two points are emphasized: that adoptees' feelings are normal and that, as with any other group, they axe not all the same. Some, for example, feel the need to search for their birth parents in order to complete their sense of identity; but according to a British study, 95 percent do not do so. Powledge takes the sensible position that records should be available for adults who want to search. In his own case, he says it was enough to find out from the agency the general facts about his parents and his birth. (Eda Le Shun, the well-known psychologist, and an adoptive parent herself, is quoted as saying the ""impulse"" to search is normal but one should not ""give in"" to it!) As for the negative feelings (isolation, low self-esteem) that some studies have found among adoptees, Powledge notes that in many of the studies the subjects were people being treated for problems in the first place--and, in any case, ""the important thing to remember is that while the adoptee may have some of the feelings. . . [he or she] never has to be a prisoner of those feelings."" In addition, Powledge talks about changing practices and attitudes toward adoption, illegitimacy, and honesty (the ""chosen baby"" story is out), and of the special importance for adoptees of the heredity-environment debate. (His own opinion, expressed as such, is that ""environment has the edge."") On a subject charged with emotion and controversy, he comes across as reasonable, honest, and supportive.

Pub Date: April 5th, 1982
Publisher: Scribners