Someone Else’s Child: A Co-Constructed, Performance Autoethnography of Adoption from Three Perspectives

Robin L. Danzak, Emerson College
Christina B. Gunther, Sacred Heart University
Michelle A. Cole, Sacred Heart University


Through a framework of reconciling the other, this collaborative autoethnographic performance co-constructs the adoption experience from three perspectives in three different families: a mother struggling with the ethical and emotional implications of the transnational adoption of her daughter; an adult reflecting on her childhood as an adoptee feeling loved, but different; and a woman who met her biological sister at age 28 after her parents revealed a lifelong secret. To develop individual adoption narratives, we applied autoethnographic tools of interactive interviews with family members, reflective writing, and document review (Ellis, 2004) of photos, letters, emails, and calendars. During one school year, we met monthly to discuss relevant literature, share and critique each other’s methods and writing, and identify the common themes in our three, diverse experiences. The result of the iteration of the individual and group processes is a script that weaves together our adoption stories, the discoveries of ourselves, and how, after negotiating feelings and identities, we reconciled the other through positive, loving relationships.