Becoming a parent and mother is ‘the irreversible crossing of the boundary from being someone's (daughter) to becoming someone's mother’ (Schmidt Neven 1996) and what we know of this transition for adopted women is still primarily anecdotal. Many women adopted during and after the 1970s in Victoria are still in the parenting life stage, and this paper describes the experiences of three of them. The women participated in qualitative, in-depth interviews that were part of a Master of Social Work research study
This article primarily takes a life course approach in eliciting themes of normative family experiences, delay of identity consolidation until the time of childbearing, the impact of search, reunion and divided loyalties, and the negotiation of multiple family systems (adoptive, in-law and birth). The management of these complex phenomena have demanded a high level of skill and effort by these women as they cope with their own emotional reactions, continue to be responsive mothers and assist their children and partners to negotiate new, extended, family relationships.
The study draws attention to and provides insight for practitioners in this hidden area of welfare and indicates the need for further research.