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?