Identity Crisis: The Adoptees’ Own Debate of Nature or Nurture

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Since the nineteenth century, the United States of America has allowed suitable parents the right to become permanent, legal guardians to a child that is not biologically theirs. The privilege of adoption comes with risks and benefits that have been studied numerously throughout time. However, there is often one element consistently left out of research that is crucial to the understanding of these results: the adoptees. This article focuses on the long-term and short-term ramifications adoption has on an adoptee’s life through the perspective of the adoptee. This question is important to acknowledge: that the adoptive parents are not the only people impacted by this process. The methods include 25 survey questions answered by 30 people, specifically completed by adoptees, sent to a small community and interviews of 10 adopted adults. Principal conclusions indicate the success of adoptive families’ relationships and adoptees’ self-perception depend on the type of adoption experienced. Families should involve positivity and openness towards adoption, comparable to the family systems theory created by Bowen and the attachment theory by Bowlby. The identity of an adolescent adoptee can be affected by the publics’ eye, which is drawn from the social identity theory and the identity theory. Identity is defined as how one personally defines his or her own characteristics and being. Due to the reduced sample size, the conclusions are limited. With more time, further interviews would be conducted and additional surveys sent out with hopes to expand the quantity of results.


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