• M Scordilis University of Cape Town
  • L Becker University of Cape Town
Keywords: post-adoption renunion, Cape Town adoption agency, health-promoting process, social factors, intrapsychic force, reunion, adoptee, infant-mother bond, journey of adoptee


This article explores the adoptee 's desire for and experience of reunion with the birth mother, from within a psychoanalytic framework and within the South African contat. The study was conducted from within a non-probability framework and is an empirical, ethnographic study with a predominantly qualitative, inductive approach, which is exploratory and descriptive in nature. The quantitative research provides width to the in-depth, qualitative data and takes the form of a content analysis of the adoption register of a Cape Town-based adoption agency. The quantitative aspect of the study employed an in-depth, face-to-face, unstructured interviewing technique, followed by an interview schedule. The qualitative sampl is comprised of 8 adult adoptees, who experienced face-to-face reunion with the birth mother, while the quantitative sample is comprised of 207 contacts in the post-adoption register of Cape Town Child Welfare between 1989 and 1995. The conclusion drawn from the study is that the adoptee's desire for reunion is a health-promoting process, which is motivated by both external, social factors as well as intrapsychic forces. The process of reunion enables the adoptee t o estab!ish a new sense of stelf, and assists in placing the adoptee within an historical and biological narrative.  The adoptee, whilst seeking to reclaim the 'lost object', does so as a means of reclaiming and completing the self, the development of which was disturbed as a result of premature interruption of the primary infant-mother bond. The value of reunion does not lie in the "success" or outcome of the reunion, but in the process or personal "journey" of the adoptee.

Author Biographies

M Scordilis, University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
L Becker, University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town
How to Cite
Scordilis, M., & Becker, L. (2022). POST-ADOPTION REUNION: A SOUTH AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 41(1), 54-67.