Who am I?
The Politics of Lying, Not Knowing and Truth-Telling in the West German History of Child Adoption
Beitrag von Bettina Hitzer, Who am I? The Politics of Lying, Not Knowing and Truth-Telling in the West German History of Child Adoption. In: Journal of Family History, März 2022.
This article traces the history of the West German debate about whether, how, and why adoptive parents should or should not tell their children the truth about their origins. Concepts of biological and social parenthood, family, parental love, and the maternal bond play a role in this context, as does the ensuing legal discussion on full and partial adoption, anonymous adoption, and finally the novel instrument of “open adoption” that was developed in the 1970s. The conclusion attempts to place these discussions within the context of a more comprehensive history of truth. In drawing attention to how the current trend towards unconditional truth-telling has been shaped by changing historical contexts, the paper reveals that the answers are context-bound, that it is advisable to carefully ponder what effects the overarching emphasis on a single form of truth (or secrecy) may have, and what dangers it may hold.
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