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Freedgood, B. (2013). Loss and Resilience Form a Family: An Adoption Story From a Relational Point of View. Psychoanal. Perspect., 10(1):20-41.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 10(1):20-41

Loss and Resilience Form a Family: An Adoption Story From a Relational Point of View

Barbara Freedgood, LCSW

Why Clinicians Need to Talk About Adoption: Some Background History

In 1970—three years before Roe v. Wade—the number of adoptions in the United States peaked at 175,000. Since the late 1980s, approximately 125,000 children have been adopted annually in this country. Between 1990 and 2005, annual adoptions of foreign-born children tripled, to 23,000 a year, and subsequently fell to 9,000 in 2011. Five million Americans alive today are adopted (Herman, 2008). These statistics indicate changes that have occurred in adoption in the last 33 years, trends that have had a great bearing on what we as clinicians are called upon to understand when working with members of adoptive families.

Every family formed by adoption has a complex story of how it came to be. These stories, both ecstatic and traumatic, inform relationships from the very beginning. When these histories go unacknowledged or misunderstood by others, the isolation of otherness, the absence of a third who bears witness to the experience, clouds the ability to metabolize all that needs to be held and processed for these families to feel adequately supported. The complexity of adoption is rooted in the paradox that on the one hand it has been pathologized and on the other, idealized. Integrating the losses intrinsic to adoption has the potential to create resilience, and a new narrative that fosters understanding and growth, can emerge.

In the adoptive family, mourning accompanies love. The experience of loss is fundamental to adoption.

[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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