Outer Search/Inner Journey:
An Orphan and Adoptee’s Quest
by Peter F. Dodds
Aphrodite Publishing Company, 1997

Reviewed by Barbara Free

     Outer Search, Inner Journey is the first-person story of Peter Dodds, born in Germany and adopted from an orphanage at the age of two-and-a-half by an American military couple. Peter is informed at the age of five that he is adopted, and then the adoptive parents never mention it again. They seem to be well-meaning, but undemonstrative and distant. One might say that the adoptive parents had attachment disorder.
     Peter spends a great deal of time, in his mind, yearning for his birth mother, knowing nothing about her, although he does at one point find the hidden adoption papers with her name and her own date and place of birth.
     After growing up, having moved frequently with his military family, he is actively seeking some group to which he can really feel he belongs. He develops a plan to join the Army himself and then get stationed in Germany, where he can regain his native language and culture, and find his birth family. He learns that this outer search does not complete his inner journey to find himself.
     Eventually, Peter finds himself in a marriage for the wrong reasons, in addiction treatment without understanding what he really needs (though he has more insight about it than some of the staff, who do not understand adoption issues), and eventually has to face his deepest needs in order to find recovery and some measure of self-acceptance. At the end of the book, his journey is by no means complete, but he has come a long way.
     This book is well-written, hard to put down, and offers us a viewpoint that is different from most other adoption books, coming from an adoptee who grew up without his culture and native language, as well as without his original family. As the book progresses, so does the author’s ability to take responsibility for his own behavior, even when he is still struggling with changing some of that behavior. It is the story not only of his adoption and search, but of his addiction and journey of recovery.
     It is a valuable reading experience for anyone in the adoption triad, professionals working with adoption, and for anyone in recovery from addiction. Although many will not completely agree with his opinions about adoption, and international adoption in particular, readers will gain an understanding of what life is. like for an adoptee displaced to another continent. Many other adult adoptees, especially men, will identify with his story, no matter what the circumstances of their own adoptions.

Excerpted from the October 2000 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2000 Operation Identity