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Merklin, K. (2013). Retrospective Reflections on the Adoption Roundtable Discussion. Psychoanal. Perspect., 10(1):120-124.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 10(1):120-124

Retrospective Reflections on the Adoption Roundtable Discussion

Kelly Merklin, MA, LMSW

Participating in the adoption roundtable discussion at NIP has been an event that startled me out of myself. Like a kind of birth, something shatteringly new emerged, but not without terror. So many dimensions of the experience remain intensely felt, but largely unformulated and confusing (Stern, 1983). This response offers preliminary reflections, highlighting how unthought adoption themes became intelligible to me through my involvement in this discussion. While group and individual process are inherently woven together, I will focus on my individual experience in the absence of a collective “debriefing” with the other participants. I am grateful for this opportunity to further make meaning of the experience.


Upon being invited to join the discussion, I considered the circumstances that surrounded my participation. What felt risky was that I was being asked to speak from a subjective position, that of an adoptee, which was still radically foreign to me. In order to feel intact enough to participate, I disavowed my fear of the “adoption subject” and of my self as subject. I suddenly understood that the main source of my hesitation was the secret that I rarely thought of myself as an adoptee, yet I was being raised to the position of an expert without any real expertise on the subject. Even deeper, I felt shame about my scaredy-cat demeanor toward my adopted self—there was no room for curiosity about this avoidance.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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