Adoption and Identity: A Case Study. Ruth Lord and Catherine E. Cox. Pp. 355-368.
The first study is based on psychoanalytically oriented therapy with two groups of adopted child patients, to see what, if any, differences there might be between those adopted at birth (nine children) and those adopted after age two, subsequent to separation from their biological families (eleven children). All twenty children, aged five to thirteen, shared a common posture of rejection toward their adoptive parents and a wish for reunification with their biological parents. However, the fantasies and motives were very different.
The early-adopted children proved to have an intense primary, ambivalent tie to their adoptive parents, although with many anxious fantasies of being defective and rejectable. Their own rejection of the adoptive parents and idealization of their biological parents was thus a defensive, retaliatory move. These children made no actual attempt to find the biological parents. On the other hand, the late-adopted children's tie was still to the biological parents and they did eventually seek them out (though often with disillusioning results). Their relationship to the adoptive parents was more limited, bland, and compliant, secondary to their crusade to find their original parents. It would also be interesting to have data about the many late-adopted
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children who come from foster homes and institutions, regarding their parental fantasy constellations.
A complement to this study is the paper by Ruth Lord and Catherine Cox, a moving story of a successful, contented fifty-year-old man, not symptomatic or in therapy, who had been adopted at six months, and who in middle age developed a strong wish to discover his origin. We hear what he eventually found out about both parents, and how deeply important it was to him to establish this connection. He managed to deny some of the less favorable information in his need for an ideal biological father. But meanwhile, he remained quite clear in his devotion to his adoptive parents: "They are still my family—my number one family!"
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Rees, K. (1993). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XLVI, 1991. Psychoanal. Q., 62:513-514