The persistently breaking chain

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This autoethnographic narrative explores temporal, situated interactions between myself as a reunited female adoptee with my birth mother and half-brother. I first met my birth mother, in 2009, when I was 47 years old. Seemingly, our relationship began well, yet after only three months we experienced our first estrangement. In the eight years that followed our relationship swung vehemently between times we participated fully in each other’s lives to being utterly estranged. Moreover, I would meet my half-brother only three times in these eight years. Consequently this chapter details the attempt to resolve the unplanned silence between my half-brother and myself as we arranged a family get together in a restaurant local to his home. During the events recounted here I felt several profound flashes of injustice, moments of revelation experienced as reflexivity’s of discomfort (Pillow 2003). By looking through a critical evocative autoethnographic lens I seek to connect deeply personal gendered, cultural, sensory and ethereal kinship affinities (Mason 2008). I do this in the hope that marginalised and privileged voices of adoptee and birth family relationships can be heard (Marx, Pennington and Chang 2017). Pseudonyms have been chosen for family characters who appear in the text in ‘consideration of gender, culture, and location’ as well as age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status (Allen and Wiles 2016, p.162). In this way recognition that may have the potential to cause harm is minimised. Furthermore, I do not share a surname with any of the people in this narrative as my life was severed from their time and place at my adoption. Nor do I identify locations or specific dates in order to protect identities and minimise the potential for detriment. I am unable to show my family members this writing, because we are now estranged, nevertheless I would not seek to publish anything that I would not be prepared to show the persons mentioned here (Medford, 2006). Undeniably, personal stories provide us with a ‘strategic’ opening to question ‘broader contexts and processes of social inequality that shape life trajectories’ (Reed-Danahay 2017, p.144). As a result, through recognising, analysing and responding to cultural and gendered kinship differences I have experienced formidable personal growth.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWriting of(f) Family
EditorsLisa Spinazola, David Purnell
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Sep 2019


  • Family, estrangement


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