Through a framework of reconciling the other, this collaborative autoethnographic performance co-constructs the adoption experience from three perspectives in three different families: a mother struggling with the ethical and emotional implications of the transnational adoption of her daughter; an adult reflecting on her childhood as an adoptee feeling loved, but different; and a woman who met her biological sister at age 28 after her parents revealed a lifelong secret. To develop individual adoption narratives, we applied autoethnographic tools of interactive interviews with family members, reflective writing, and document review (Ellis, 2004) of photos, letters, emails, and calendars. During one school year, we met monthly to discuss relevant literature, share and critique each other’s methods and writing, and identify the common themes in our three, diverse experiences. The result of the iteration of the individual and group processes is a script that weaves together our adoption stories, the discoveries of ourselves, and how, after negotiating feelings and identities, we reconciled the other through positive, loving relationships.


autoethnography, transnational adoption, identity, race, ethnicity, belonging, family narrative

Author Bio(s)

Robin L. Danzak, Ph.D., is an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders at Emerson College, in Boston, MA. Adoption is a new research topic for Robin, who usually explores multilingual language, literacy, and the relationships among writing, culture, and identity of bilingual adolescents and adults. Through collaborative, qualitative/mixed methods, Robin engages participants in authentic text composition to promote language and literacy skills, self-expression, and participation.

Christina B. Gunther, Ed.D., is the director of the Health Science Program and Global Health Programs at Sacred Heart University. Her expertise lies within the field of cultural competence, diversity, and inclusion in the healthcare arena. She presents and consults nationally on topics that include cultural competence, diversity, power and privilege, implicit bias, and stereotype representations. Christina recently joined the field of qualitative research with this autoethnography.

Michelle A. Cole DNP, MSN, RN, CPN, is an innovative education leader with expertise in pediatric and public health nursing. With over a decade of teaching in higher education, Michelle takes a primary role in mentoring the next generation of nurses. Her areas of interests include global clinical immersions and supporting students in their developmental journey of cultural awareness and sensitivity. Sharing her story on adoption stimulated her interest to engage in qualitative research.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robin Danzak, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Emerson College, Boston, MA 02116. Email: robin_danzak@emerson.edu

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