THE THEORY OF ADOPTIVE RELATIONS
We are now in a position to summarize the theoretical argument
which has been developed in these six chapters.
1. Childless couples entering upon adoption are confronted with
a series of difficulties which we identified as role handicap.
2. This role handicap is reinforced by the attitudes of other people.
3. In the form of parental dilemmas, the role handicap is carried
into the evolving family relationship.
4. To cope with their role handicap and feelings of alienation,
the adopters take recourse to various supports for their roles.
These coping mechanisms appear to be of two types: those which serve
the adopters in denying that their situation is different from that
of biological parents (“rejection-of-difference”), and
those which serve the adopters in acknowledging that difference
5. The greater the original deprivation and the consequent role
handicap suffered, the greater the likelihood that the adopters
will lean toward mechanisms of coping by “rejection-of-difference”).
6. For all parents in our society, certain cultural goals may be
assumed. There is no doubt that adopters, along with other parents,
seek to have families of stability and permanence, yielding personal
satisfactions. Stability requires rules of conduct. Families that
are not regulated by tradition must depend on the interpersonal
skills of their members for their internal order. In the situation
of adoption, these skills imply empathic and ideational communication
with the child about his background.
7. Adoptive parental coping activities of the type of “acknowledgment-of-difference”
are conducive to good communication and thus to order and dynamic
stability in adoptive families. Coping activities of the type of
“rejection-of-difference” on the other hand can be expected
to make for poor communication with subsequent disruptive results
for the adoptive relationship. . . .
Summary of Mechanisms of Coping with Role
Coping mechanisms with apparently similar objectives
have been placed side by side.
|“Rejection of Difference”
||“Acknowledgement of Difference”
|Changed Identity and Role
||Reaching for New Symbols of Identity and Role
||Desires for New Forms of Sanction
||Adoption of Older Children
|Simulation of the Biological Family
||The Heterogeneous Family
|Guarding Adoption Secrets from Outsiders
||Group Membership as Role Support
|Myth of Origin Defining Child's Status
||Celebration of Adoption Anniversary
|Removal of Natural Parents' Image
||Admission of Natural Parents' Image
|Shielding Child from His Origins
||Reciprocity in Parent-Child Problems
||Empathy in Parent-Child Problems
||Empathy with Child's Natural Parents
||Empathy with Adopted Child
|“Forgetting” the Adoption
||Recall of Relative Deprivation
||Recall of Relative Satisfaction
Myth of Origin Defining the Adopters' Status
|Emerging Role Models