The Genetic Connection of Adoptees
& Birth Parents
by LaVonne Harper
FEA Publishing, 1992
Reviewed by Barbara
not new, the research the author cites is still relevant, as are the many
anecdotes included in the book, which is essentially the authors doctoral
dissertation at Oxford University. Stiffler, a reunited birth mother who,
according to the books cover, writes and works in the area of
inter- and intrapersonal strategic therapy, studied 70 reunited families
in both the U.S. and England, so the people quoted are from both countries.
This book is a valuable resource for triad
members considering searching for their family members, or for those involved
in the search, or shortly after initial reunion. The many quotes and anecdotes
are probably the books greatest strength, and the part that most readers
will really enjoy.
Stiffler recounts many examples of synchronicity,
of reunited persons discovering what they have in common, including names,
doing the same things at the same time, preferences they didnt expect
to have, similar careers, similar health problems, etc. Some of these are
expected genetic similarities, such as physical characteristics, but some
are not so easily explained, such as marrying spouses with the same given
name, searching for each other at the same time without any knowledge of
the others searching, and significant dates that are shared.
Woven in with the quotes and anecdotes are
excerpts from various research studies of adoptees, birth parents, and reunions,
and psychological theories and philosophical models. At the beginning of
the book, Stiffler likens the mother-child relationship to a Mobius band,
a never-ending band with one turn in it. She mentions this analogy again
toward the end of the book, but doesnt develop it much more than that.
She quotes Carl Jung regarding synchronicity, intuition, etc.
One of the problems I had with the book is
that empirical research and facts are mixed not only with anecdotes, but
with pseudoscience, such as extrasensory perception and psychic phenomena,
without distinguishing between these approaches, sometimes presenting conjecture
as objective research results. Sometimes Stiffler and her subject see
significance where there is probably really only coincidence, much like
fortune-telling. For me, that detracts from the very real value of her research.
However, the many anecdotes and examples from the twin studies, particularly
the one in Minnesota, are enough to make the book worth reading.
While I wouldnt take seriously her idea
that one generation of behavioral changes creates actual permanent DNA changes,
I dont deny that a crisis in one generation does set ones life
and descendants on unexpected paths, that cannot always be explained rationally.
Connections between separated parents and offspring, and siblings, do seem
beyond chance, cannot be physically proven or disproven in the way that similar
eye color, blood or tissue type or handedness can. Perhaps in the future
some of these connections will be empirically explained through genetics,
or prenatal influence. Others probably acquire significance for individuals
because they want to see significance. Statistics on chance and probability
are of less value than peoples desires in these cases. While I
wouldnt recommend using this book as a scientific resource, I would
recommend it as good reading for triad members for its thought-provoking
value, and even just entertaining value. For someone considering search or
involved in a search, it will provide some motivation for finding ones
own connections and synchronicity.
Excerpted from the January 2009
edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2009 Operation Identity