No-man's Land: Adoption Storied Through the Aotearoa/New Zealand Adoption Act 1955
journal contributionposted on 11.03.2021, 09:02 by Denise Blake, L Coombes
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. The Aotearoa/New Zealand Adoption Act 1955 legislated and governed adoption practices from 1955 to 1985. Through an exploration of the historical, cultural and social assumptions underlying the Adoption Act 1955, this article questions how the social power relations complicit with adoption legislation and policy produce and reproduce subject positions for adoptees. In-depth narrative interviews were conducted with 12 adoptees from throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand. The researchers found the legal constitution of adoptees produces them as legitimate; however, they remain 'other' through dominant discourses of heteronormative blood kinship that reiterates their illegitimacy. The legal fiction of their legitimacy as if born to failed to secure them space within normative narratives of kinship and compromised adoptees' ability to take up responsibility as neoliberal citizens. Current New Zealand debate on adoption fails to take account of the experience of adoptees, focusing instead on the rights of married couples, including same-sex couples, to continue practices of adoption. Our analysis informs the critical importance of listening to how adoptees experience repeated exclusions and enduring loss represented by the metaphor of no-man's land.