'You Were Born Again With Us': Narratives of Italian Families Formed Through International Adoption

Narzisi, Katia (2016). 'You Were Born Again With Us': Narratives of Italian Families Formed Through International Adoption. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000efa8


This thesis presents a qualitative study of adoptive parents, childrens, young adults and experts’ accounts of communication within families about a child’s past. Until now, this particular aspect of international adoption in Italy has received little attention. The aims of this study are to understand how both parents and adoptees’ deal with and manage the origins of adoptees, and also experts’ views of this communication. In addition, this research explores the potentiality of the use of 'life-story work’ amongst this specific sample. This study uses in-depth interviews to unravel the experiences of ten adoptive parents with their five adopted children and five young adopted adults. It also includes the perspectives of seven experts. The findings are embedded in the Italian social and cultural context, which contributes to shaping the meaning of the accounts collected. The findings show that all of the families had developed an adoption story. Visual aids and documents help and support the telling of these stories. Furthermore, the various stories served different functions: they enabled communication, they presented challenges, and they emphasised the relationships with the actors involved in international adoption. The findings show diversity in the approaches to communicative openness: the practices presented by the sample families in this research are organised according to four different approaches to communication. The differences amongst the families, children and young adults are linked to the amount of information available to the families; the child’s attitude to his or her past; the influence of the actors involved in the adoption; the way in which adoptive kinship is understood; the way in which the laws are applied, and the ways in which children’s voices and needs are accounted for by families and accredited bodies.

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