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Journey Of The Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness [Paperback]

Betty Jean Lifton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 6 1995
Betty Jean Lifton, whose Lost and Found has become a bible to adoptees and to those who would understand the adoption experience, explores further the inner world of the adopted person. She breaks new ground as she traces the adopted child's lifelong struggle to form an authentic sense of self. And she shows how both the symbolic and the literal search for roots becomes a crucial part of the journey toward wholeness.

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Journey Of The Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness + The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child + Coming Home to Self: The Adopted Child Grows Up
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From Publishers Weekly

Lifton has written before on this highly charged subject ( Lost and Found and Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter ), but this is a more profound investigation of the trauma she sees as occurring when a child is separated from his or her birth mother and is brought up by people not of his or her blood. Lifton is for "open" adoption--meaning, to her, not only that the adoptee should have a chance to find out about his or her birth mother, but preferably that both sets of parents should get to know each other. She discourses at length, with reference to myth, legend, folklore, science, psychiatry, as well as to many personal experiences, about the crippling effect of the loss of the birth mother on the adoptee's sense of self; she even cites evidence showing that adoptive sons are more likely than natural ones to murder their parents. Despite one chapter (out of 17) devoted to him, the father's role seems little considered, that of the mother expanded to awe-inspiring proportions. And no attention is paid to the many cases in which the birth mother would not have been the ideal parent, despite the almost mystical qualities with which the author endows her. An eloquent book, but only one side of an argument in which two reasonable sides exist.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Drawing on 50 in-depth interviews and over 20 questionnaires, Lifton details the psychological stages and problems of those who have been adopted. An adoptee herself, Lifton has written Lost and Found ( LJ 4/1/79) and Twice Born ( LJ 9/1/75). Here she argues that it is crucial for adoptees to know as much as possible about their backgrounds in order to avoid the trauma that adoption can cause. According to the author, "the secret in today's adoptive family is not that the child is adopted but who the child is." An extensive appendix of resources including networks, support groups, periodicals, and recommended reading is particularly impressive. This is a thoughtful and useful work for all those with questions about the psychological legacy of adoption. Recommended where demand warrants.
- January Adams, ODSI Research Lib., Raritan, N.J.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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ANY PEOPLE IDENTIFY WITH THE FAMILIAR condition of being Betwixt and Between, just as they identify with Peter Pan, the boy who did not want to grow up and face the responsibilities of the real world. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A moving account that should not be generalized Sept. 10 2003
I can imagine how many adoptees, upon reading this movingly written book, feel that their own story is being heard, their own troubles validated. I am not an adoptee and so I can only observe from the outside what it might be like. We adopted our daughter at the age of 4 days in a secret practice in 1969. She grew up with many adopted children. I can tell you that our daughter, who was not interested in searching for her birthparents, does not fit the profile described by Lifton that 'adoptees have been in exile since their separation from their mother' and 'The difference between those who search and those who don't lies in how they formed their defensive structures as children: how much they denied, repressed, and split off.' Lifton was adopted at age 2-1/2 after suffering numerous losses, and her adoptive mother was not a very nurturing soul. In Twice Born Lifton said that after finding her birthmother she had no mother at all since both mothers had disappointed her. I see that her experience in life was very different from that of our own daughter and of that of many other adoptees. Even after our birthmother found us 29 years later and we now have a wonderful relationship, our daughter claims she has not changed since meeting her birthmother, that she doesn't now feel whole whereas before she felt fragmented. Several of her adoptee friends searched and several did not, some non-searchers are happy and well-adjusted adults who do not share Lifton's view simply because they did not suffer like she did. My objection to Lifton's book(s) is that she generalizes from her particular experience so that all adoptees have identity crises, all adoptees feel fragmented and cannot be whole until they are united with their birthparent(s). It would be better if she wrote: 'This is how I feel, and this is what I have heard other adoptees say.' It is important to stay away from generalizations.
Gisela Gasper Fitzgerald, author of ADOPTION: An Open, Semi-Open or Closed Practice?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have for Adoptees July 25 2003
This book is a must have for adoptees and can be useful for birth and adoptive parents. It gave me insights into myself as an adoptee. It clarified emotions and frustrations that I had felt all of my life. It brings to the forefront the true emotional drama that exists in adoption. It doesn't sugarcoat the realities, and it bares the raw and powerful emotions that follow the adopted child all of his/her life. If you want validation, this is the book for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a powerful, evocative book! June 5 2012
By n
I am writing this review to adoptee's who are beginning their exploration of what that means to them. That said; I think what I would like to let anyone reading this book is that it is powerful and as such - be prepared, perhaps i should even go so far as to say steel yourself! As an adoptee myself I read this volume whilst going through the process of searching for my biological parents. It was a very "challenging" experience and one which i chose to do later in life (statistically speaking) than most. This book boldly elucidated a number of potentialities and quite a few of them are pretty scary but I feel it helped me to prepare for what i was (about to) go/ing through . It addresses a very broad spectrum of possibilities and perspectives. It confronts pain and I would say is a little more broadly based than what some other reviewers have written but I will allow that Betty Jean does come down firmly and conclusively in support of open adoption. I have bought/given this book to at least 5 people ( family members, other adoptees, adoptive parents, generally those with a vested interest in reading it) and reactions have varied but they have never been bland. My sister cried for days after reading it, my adoptive father threw it out after two chapters and an adopted friend actually burnt it! This book is evokes strong emotions. So ... all in all I highly recommend it. Betty Jean was (she passed last year) a gifted writer. I would also humbly suggest "The Primal Wound" by Nancy Newton Verrier. I hope this helps. Cordially. N
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Truth About Adoption Nov. 7 2002
By A Customer
In "Journey of the Adopted Self," Betty Jean Lifton writes an amazingly comprehensive account of what it means to be adopted. This book is my most dependable reference in traversing the uneven ground of reunion with my relinquished daughter. BJ Lifton has helped sensitize me to the special challenges associated with having been relinquished and adopted. Her contribution has been invaluable to me.
I have recommended this book to many others and made a gift of this book to many more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ for all members of the adoption triad July 14 2001
I have read MANY books on adoption and the impact it has on the triad. Some were good, some were bad, some were REALLY bad. From the moment I picked up this book, I could not put it down. Finally, a book that describes me and the way I feel! It is no longer a mystery as to why I am the way I am! This book is a MUST READ for all members of the adoption triad. I had many "light bulb moments" while reading this book and it has helped me immensely to know that I am not the only adoptee out there thinking and feeling this way. It has also helped me better understand my birth mother and how her experience has affected her. Thank you Betty Jean Lifton for writing this book. It has changed my way of thinking and changed my life for the better!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Journey of the Adopted Self is a homecoming! May 22 2000
As an adopted person myself, reading Betty Jean Lifton's Journey of the Adopted Self became a sudden & mesmerizing voyage of discovery. It is filled with moving life stories of adopted men & women, just like myself. It examines how separation & secrecy affect adoptees' sense of identity & our relationships to our adoptive parents. I had my arms full of books at our local library & I'd set them down to go through my choices once more before checking out when my eyes were caught by the book laying there on the counter. My hands reached out for it & all the others in my pile paled. This book changed my life, gave me names for malaises that have plagued me all my life. Wonderful stuff!
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars This is not everyone's experience
I have just begun reading some books about adoption in an effort to better understand myself. I just finished Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self which is much better than... Read more
Published on July 8 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Adoptee heritage: deliberately & forcibly kept secret
Some may argue that there is nothing "unwhole" about adoptees. Then again, some people are wildly outraged by adoptees searching - those people usually threatened... Read more
Published on July 4 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best adoptee book
Betty Jean Lifton has written a graceful and useful narrative of what it feels like to be an adopted adult under the sealed records system that has prevailed in the US for the past... Read more
Published on June 28 1999 by maireaine@hexatron.com (Mary Anne Cohen)
5.0 out of 5 stars This book was a life-saver for me.
As an adoptive mother, this book was very helpful as I tried to help my daughter in her search for self. Read more
Published on April 23 1999 by tired222@aol.com
5.0 out of 5 stars An in depth explination for what we(adoptees) can't explain
This book by Betty Jean Lifton is an eye opening experiance for all that may read it. Things became clear to me after reading this book. Read more
Published on April 17 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars Making A Big Deal Out Of Nothing
When one reads a book about "A Quest For Wholeness," it's quickly apparent that the author is projecting her lack of "wholeness" on others. Read more
Published on March 8 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A Riveting Read - I couldn't put it down!
Journey of the Adopted Self is a book that helped to intellectualize many of the issues I have felt as an adoptee. Dr. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 1999
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