The Adoption Constellation: New Ways of Thinking About and Practicing Adoption

Author: Michael Phillip Grand, PhD

The Adoption Constellation provides an in-depth analysis of the foundational principles of our cultural and psychological understanding of adoption. The systemic concept of the constellation is used to demonstrate that interpersonal relationships beyond the nuclear adoptive family influence the primary relationships between adoptive and birth parents and their children. Questioning the adequacy of the theory of Primal Wound to explain adoptive experience, a more culturally-grounded understanding of adoption is offered. Grand surveys the literature on adoption and stigma, demonstrating that the experience of adoption cannot be divorced from a community’s assessment of the status of this family form. Integrating the cultural and psychological factors influencing the experience of adoption, the social construction of narrative identity is used to capture the lived experience of members of the adoption constellation. Core themes such as loss, rejection, grief, intimacy, and mattering are described. The book concludes with an analysis of alternatives beyond conventional adoption as a basis for permanency, and a suggested set of political strategies for opening up adoption records.

About the Author

Michael Grand obtained his PhD in Psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is a Professor in the Graduate Training Program in Child Clinical Psychology at the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario. He co-directed the National Adoption Study of Canada, and has published on such diverse topics as search and reunion, family and personal identity, adoption demographics, and paths to open facilitation. He received the David Kirk award for outstanding contributions to research in adoption and has been a board member of the Adoption Councils of Ontario and Canada. As a founding member of the coordinating committee of the Coalition for Open Adoption Records, he works for access for identifying information for all. Dr Grand has a private practice serving the adoption constellation.

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