Trigger events for adopted adults

Regardless of whether adults adopted in infancy consider their adoptions to play an important role in their lives or not, certain "trigger events" in adulthood may result in a greater emphasis being placed on their adoptive status, new research from the University of Melbourne has found.

Clinical Psychology PhD student Lisa-Marie Morgan, along with her supervisor, Dr. Nancy McMurray, have researched the effect of adults adopted in infancy and discovered that certain “trigger events” may remind adopted adults of their status.

Her first study, titled Adopted Adults in Australia: Thoughts and Themes, forms part of her PhD research.

“The main finding we have discovered is that regardless of whether adults adopted in infancy consider their adoptions to play an important or meaningful role in their lives, certain “trigger events” in adulthood may result in a greater emphasis being placed on their adoptive status,” she said.

Such “trigger events” may include when they become parents themselves, death of their adoptive parents, medical conditions, changes to adoption legislation, minor incidences such as, going to the doctor's office and being questioned regarding family history, traumatic events, significant events such as birthdays or anniversaries and others sharing their experiences of a search for, or reunion with their biological parents.

“As a result, adults adopted in infancy may use certain management strategies in order to cope with these “trigger events”. These may include problem-focused behavioural strategies when the situations appear more controllable, such as seeking information, searching, and reunion, she said.

"Other strategies that may be employed are more emotional and cognitive, such as detaching or disconnecting, making assumptions about others and how a search for, and reunion with biological parents might affect all involved, assuming a great deal of responsibility for the adoption/search/reunion situations, rationalisations for not searching, and seeking supportive relationships, such as adoption organisations like VANISH.”

The second study will take a more in-depth look, through one-on-one interviews, at the role “trigger events” play in the life of adults who were adopted in infancy and have known about their adoptions since childhood.

Adopted adults who are interested in finding out more about the study, or who are interested in participating can contact Ms Lisa-Marie Morgan on 0439 995 472 or via email to [email protected].

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