Ephemera: The Searching of an Adopted Daughter
Greenway, Kate Isabel
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This dissertation utilizes self-study, memoir, and art-making in the context of personal trauma in order to witness and examine the wound that comes from being an adoptee. Using my own experience as a woman, and as part of an adoption triangle, I journey beyond the traditional case study and statistical or psychological analysis where adoption is treated as a singular event, finite and quantifiable. I examine research and theory across disciplines, as well as literary and artistic forms, to situate my own experience of adoption, with the view to unearth dynamics of power, secrecy, repression, conformity and suffering that extend beyond the official adoption process. In particular, I focus on my experience of being an adult adoptee in Ontario who was part of the closed adoption system in existence from post World War Two until the recent opening of records. I use art-making in paper and glass, combining these with the objects and small bits of ephemera I possess to give aesthetic expression to the complexity of adoptive experience. I argue that the absence of adoptive representation can be addressed through social and cultural representation, and advocate for the artistic revisioning of adoption as a particularly powerful medium to give voice to unheard/untold stories through adoption art.