Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 3, Issue 2
spring 2013
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Craig Canfield
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

The Imprint of Another Life: Adoption Narratives and Human Possibility

Margaret Homans

PhotoOver the last decade, since becoming an adoptive parent, I have been reading about adoption in an effort to understand how people talk about their experiences of it: the passionately held beliefs that motivate the choices they make and the joys and sorrows that accompany each stage of life with adoption.  In the course of my reading - in social science research; in political and historical analysis; in testimony and memoirs; and in fiction, poetry, and drama - I have come to see that adoption raises the most vital questions about human identity and the value and meaning of individual human lives.  This book is my attempt to give order both to what I learned about adoption and to what I think adoption reveals.

This book uses readings of literature, documentary films, advice manuals, social science writing, and informal writings by and published interviews with adoptees, parents, and birth parents to address a series of questions about common beliefs about adoption.  Underlying these beliefs is the assumption that human qualities are innate and intrinsic, an assumption often held by adoptees and their families, sometimes at great emotional cost.  This book explores representations of adoption that reimagine human possibility by questioning this assumption and conceiving of alternatives.
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