Publications

Adoption, genealogical bewilderment and heritage bricolage

Ormond, M.E.

Summary

Closed adoptions – where birth and adoption records are legally sealed to obscure adoptees’ biological parentage – were once the norm in many western Anglophone countries. Grassroots resistance to closed adoption relied upon the belief that deprivation of knowledge of their true biological origins could lead to psychological trauma among adoptees. In this chapter, I reflect on my own mother’s sense of deprivation as a resullt of closed adoption, her desire for a coherent origin story and her consequent process of cobbling together disparate fragments of legally-, religiously-, scientifically-, commercially- and familiarly-authorised and -authorising heritages from among diverse analogue, digital and biotechnical resources rendered intelligible, relevant and truthful by societal and (bio)technological transformations over time. In so doing, I call attention to complicated power relations in everyday personal heritage practices that challenge the simplistic pitting of ‘heritage from below’ (Robertson 2012) against ‘Authorised Heritage Discourse’ (AHD) (Smith 2006).