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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 + Coming Home to Self: The Adopted Child Grows Up + The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child
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Product Description

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.

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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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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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2.0 out of 5 stars I found the viewpoint too narrow. Sept. 16 1998
By A Customer
As a reunited birth father attempting to gain some insight into my children's experience I was very disappointed in this book. My children were three and four when I had to let them go and older child adoptions were not considered at all. The endless rambling about some seeming mystical mother-child bond completely ignored the very real bond that existed between my children and me before we separated. The book made me feel invisible as a birthfather. While it is true that a large majority of adoptions are single mother-infant adoptions it seems irresponsible to write as though that is the only variety that exists. I am a birthfather who was very bonded to my children, initiated the adoption, suffered greatly over the years, searched for and found my children. According to Lifton, I , and thus my children's experience, do not exist. Now, having said that, I would also like to say that the book did provide insight into behaviors that I have observed in reunion and has helped me understand some of the tensions that have arisen in our reunion. In fact it would have been an excellent book if it hadn't constantly offended with it's narrow viewpoint.
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By A Customer
Journey of the Adopted Self is truly an inspiring book that spoke not only to me the adult, but also me the child. I am an adoptee who didn't think that adoption affected my overall self until I began to read about *me* between the pages of this book. Identifying with and understanding the psyche of a baby separated from its mother early, I realized that I had always wanted to be cradled when things were difficult in life, that I always wanted to meet someone who could take care of me but was afraid of rejection, and my "natural" instinct to distance my adoptive mother from me may have been my reaction to being separated at birth from my natural mother. This book also described my adoptive brother who seems "stuck" in his evolving into an adult. As I have begun a reunion with my birthmother, my adoptive mother and I have become closer, and with the help of this book, I've been able to be exposed to other points of view objectively instead of just reacting to situations. I truly feel that this is a book that will help adoptees not only cope with the issues of being adopted, but will help heal the invisible scars on our hearts
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best adoptee book June 28 1999
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 60 or so years.This book has helped countless adoptees understand themsleves a little better, and it has also enlightened adoptive parents, and birthmothers like myself.
Everything Betty Jean Lifton writes on this subject is worth reading, and discussing, and in many cases, taking to heart. She is a masterful writer of prose, and her psychological insights often ring true.
This is THE basic adoption reform book--along with BJ's earlier "Lost And Found". All the rest take off from here. I would especially recomend BJ's books to birthmothers in search or in reunion seeking for insight into the mind and soul of the adoptee.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a powerful, evocative book!
I am writing this review to adoptee's who are beginning their exploration of what that means to them. Read more
Published on June 5 2012 by n
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Truth About Adoption
In "Journey of the Adopted Self," Betty Jean Lifton writes an amazingly comprehensive account of what it means to be adopted. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ for all members of the adoption triad
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. Read more
Published on July 14 2001 by W. Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey of the Adopted Self is a homecoming!
As an adopted person myself, reading Betty Jean Lifton's Journey of the Adopted Self became a sudden & mesmerizing voyage of discovery. Read more
Published on May 21 2000 by Rebecca Brown
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 3 1999
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 22 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 16 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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