Wade in the Water: Awash in the Sense of Adoption

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School of Psychology, Massey University
A discursive approach to knowledge contends that language is the constitutive force of experience and lived reality. Meaning is created through language use within relationships, while discourses function as the statements that produce knowledge, power and truth claims. We cannot step outside of the discourses through which our knowledge of experience is produced, though their complexity always allows us to resist particular identities that are discursively available to us. Based on interviews with 12 adoptees constituted within the ‘closed’ adoption period between 1955 and 1985, this narrative analysis represents the way in which the adoptive body matters to participants’ experiences of adoption and their resistances to the discourses that produce knowledge of adoption: Embodiment needed to be incorporated into this discursive work. Knowing, accessing and beingin- the-world are achieved through our senses in everyday life. We engage and shape cultural norms that enable and constrain corporeality. The adoptive experience is lived and felt through bodies that struggle to articulate their corporeality through discourse. Without discourses fit for purpose, speaking embodiment in and through adoption is precarious and adoptees attempt to articulate subjectivities beyond those allowed. This paper discusses the strategies used to materialise body matters in researching adoption.
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Adoption, Adoptees, Body, Identity, Birth family, Adoptive family, Reunion