Curiosity and opportunities: The impact of accessing adoption information on adopted adults and the decision to search for birth relatives

Feast, Julia (2020) Curiosity and opportunities: The impact of accessing adoption information on adopted adults and the decision to search for birth relatives. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Understanding the nature of adopted people’s curiosity, and the reasons why some people seek out adoption information and birth relatives whilst others do not, has been the focus of research, debate and theorising for many years. This submission for the degree of PhD by Publication draws on three studies concerned with the experience of adoption, search and reunion undertaken between 1997 and 2013 on which the author was principal investigator. Nine publications have been selected to represent them. The studies explored the experiences of people adopted mostly in England and Wales, including a group of women who had been brought to the UK from Hong Kong and placed for adoption. Findings about their curiosity regarding their backgrounds, and the opportunities they may or may not have had to pursue them, were consistent themes in the studies.

This thesis takes the concepts of curiosity and opportunities and uses them as the thread to review the three studies, evaluate their significance at the time and consider their ongoing relevance. The opportunities for adopted people to trace relatives and find out about their origins have changed significantly over the years, in terms of professional understandings, social acceptability, legal provisions and technological possibilities.

The thesis is in three parts. The first part reviews the literature, showing what was known at the time of the studies about adopted people’s experiences of adoption, curiosity, search and reunion, and then discussing how this knowledge has since been extended.

The second part summarises the author’s role in the three studies before discussing the methodology and key findings, and the ethical considerations of researching such sensitive topics.

The third part explores in more depth how curiosity and opportunity can change and interact in dynamic and subtle ways, throughout the lifetime of an adopted person. It highlights the impact of social media and developments in DNA testing. The thesis illustrates how the knowledge and understanding from the three studies was used to inform further research and changes in law, policy and practice, and how they have continuing relevance for the adoption community and in other related fields.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Publication
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Social Work
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2022 08:30
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2022 08:30

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