This is the third of Evelyn Robinson’s books on adoption loss, and for many, may be the most valuable. Her stated attempt in this book is to provide a ready reference on adoption loss and recovery for those who do not wish to explore the subject in more depth, or who might be less inclined to read a more substantial or a more narrative book. She has accomplished that purpose.
The book is divided into three sections:
- Adoption Loss and Grief
- In this section, Robinson situates the grief caused by family separation in the context of grief reactions in general. She shows the similarities of this loss to other losses and provides some quick, short reference notes from other authors to substantiate what she says. She deals first with the loss of mothers, and then with that of those who were adopted. There is a succinct sub-section on the disenfranchised grief which adoption loss creates. FAQs in this section are those of mothers.
- Personal Recovery
- Personal recovery is defined as addressing the effects of adoption separation on individuals. She describes re-grief therapy and why it may help those suffering from adoption loss. The FAQs which follow this section are those often asked by those who were adopted.
- Interpersonal Recovery
- Interpersonal recovery addresses the long-term impacts on relationships between family members who have been separated by adoption. In this section, she describes the four tasks in mourning the loss that has occurred:
- to accept the reality of the loss
- to work through the pain of the grief
- to adjust to the changed environment
- to move on with life
- She addresses the reasons that grief arises at reunion, and describes how it may manifest, including some of the complicated grief reactions that may arise. She also addresses reunion outcomes and why some mothers and people adopted may decline a reunion. Questions addressed in this section include those of adoptive parents and family members.
Robinson is able to re-frame many a question’s underlying bias to a more helpful way of looking at the situation. For example, when asked about the trauma that surfaces upon reunion, Robinson reminds us that the reunion did not cause the trauma; adoption separation causes trauma, and though it may have been repressed for decades, the surfacing of the trauma’s effects is the sign of unresolved grieving finally being recognized.
Both because of its succinct summary of main lines of research and its clear compassion, this is an excellent first resource for those contemplating or dealing with a reunion. It will form a valuable resource for those who deal with mothers and people adopted in reunion. I would recommend this as a foundational book about adoption in anyone’s library.
Reviewer: Sandra Falconer Pace
Christies Beach, South Australia: Clova Publications, 2009
Available from: www.clovapublications.com