Adoption, genealogical bewilderment and biological heritage bricolage

Meghann Ormond*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


Closed adoptions – where birth and adoption records are legally sealed to obscure adoptees’ biological parentage – were once the norm in many Western Anglophone countries. Grassroots resistance to closed adoption relied upon the belief that deprivation of knowledge of their true biological origins could lead to psychological trauma among adoptees. In this chapter, the author reflects on her own mother’s sense of deprivation, her desire for a coherent origin story and her consequent process of cobbling together disparate analogue, digital and biotechnical fragments of legally, religiously, scientifically, commercially and familiarly authorised and authorising heritages from among diverse resources rendered intelligible, relevant and truthful by societal and (bio)technological transformations over time. In so doing, the author calls attention to complicated power relations in everyday personal heritage practices that challenge the simplistic pitting of ‘heritage from below’ (Iain Robertson, Heritage from Below, 2012) against ‘Authorised Heritage Discourse’ (AHD) (Laurajane Smith, Uses of Heritage, 2006).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfter Heritage
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Perspectives on Heritage from Below
EditorsH. Muzaini
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781788110747
ISBN (Print)9781788110730
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2018

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    Ormond, M. (2018). Adoption, genealogical bewilderment and biological heritage bricolage. In H. Muzaini (Ed.), After Heritage: Critical Perspectives on Heritage from Below (pp. 148-168). Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd..