The adoption narrative—what is the thematic conflict of your adoption story?

William Shakespeare | Judith Land

“There is no darkness but ignorance.” William Shakespeare

How would Shakespeare describe the thematic conflict of your adoption narrative? Is your adoption story a plot-driven conflict resulting from a tragic accident, natural disaster, or an act of fate that unexpectedly left a hapless child stranded along life’s highway; or is your tale a character-driven plot motivated by the ego and self-interest of the main characters? Thematic conflicts on every side of the adoption triangle are either plot-driven or character-driven. The number of conflicts the main characters has to go through to reach their goals determines the length of the adoption narrative. The most worthy stories are those that rouse the passions of the heart; capture the imagination of the reader; bring along the experiences of the audience; and provoke the wisdom of the intellect.

What is the thematic conflict of your adoption story? The theme of most romance novels involves a conflict between a man and a women and a struggle for self-actualization. Adoption stories contain many of the same elements and conflicts. Individuals on every side of the adoption triangle struggle to resolve conflicts inherent to the practice of adoption. As we ponder the fate of the abandoned child we question the morality of birth parents debating the advantages of severing all legal and moral responsibility for the care of their child as they struggle to resolve their own internal conflicts between “morality and self”. They are conflicted between a desire to remain forever young and free of responsibility verses a curtailment of freedoms and a voluntary acceptance of the burdens of parenthood. Their narrative is often short-sighted and appears to have been written at night when the driver is unable to see any farther than the illumination of the headlights as they worry about what lies ahead. Their vision of the future is often clouded by the coercive efforts of embarrassed parents, unsupportive partners, immature peers, social workers and clergy. Adoptive parents are conflicted between the value of “self-verses charity”. They struggle between self-interest verses compassion and what is best for humankind; leaving others to wonder if they are more honorable and virtuous because they have a genuine concern for the health, safety, and welfare of the orphaned child? Adoptees afraid to rock the boat are conflicted between the comfort of the “status quo and the truth” and maintaining an indefinite adolescent relationship with their adoptive family verses self-actualization. They struggle between an innate and deep-rooted desire for the discovery of a true self-identity, native pedigree, point of origin and adulthood verses living in a suspended state of permanent childhood and the fear of alienating the adoptive parents.

Adoption Triangle | Judith Land | Adoption Detective | Thematic Conflict

Adoption is a monumental conflict between self-interest and humanity. The “Thematic Conflict of the Adoption Narrative” and the adoption triangle graphic is the intellectual effort of Judith Land, Author and Adoptee.

Greed results in self-destruction and generosity leads to success but individuals on every side of the adoption triangle continue to debate the moral dilemmas adoption causes verses the self-interest of those involved. Ultimately, adoption is a monumental conflict between self-interest and humanity—a struggle to decide the fate of orphaned children that should always cause the audience to think, rather than accept the inevitable.

Judith Land


About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
This entry was posted in Adoption, Children, Life, Parenting, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The adoption narrative—what is the thematic conflict of your adoption story?

  1. I am sorry but in a survey of 1000 first moms 997 asked (begged pleaded) to keep her baby. the conflict is not in what is the right decision but how to fight off the baby coercers and thieves. yes the extreme trauma of child loss does create strange pathology. but to think this as a weighted or logical decision of moms is almost always wrong

    • Judith Land says:

      Danielle – Thank you for your comments. All of your points are valid. In the situations you mention, I would describe the primary “thematic conflict of the adoption narrative” as a struggle between immature and naive birth parents verses the nefarious, coercive and aggressive actions of the money-changers. A secondary thematic conflict to the adoption narrative you describe is the struggle between those who favor adoption as the best solution verses those who believe the child should remain with the birth parents to avoid predictable psychological and pathological consequences. The tertiary conflict is the emotional tug-of-war between passion and conscience—a conflict many of us face on a daily basis between making decisions based on the emotions of the heart verses the wisdom of the intellect. Judith

  2. eagoodlife says:

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Thematic conflict anyone?

  3. i do feel your writing of adoption conflict is concise and insightful and intelligently portrayed. I do not agree that birth moms are weak and naive. yes single moms were tied down, over or under drugged and intentionally abused in the hospital. this mistreatment is going to leave a person weak. and moms who had no family support will fall victim to predators. However does the government and church consider bold rude bullies better parents for a child. falling victim can happen to any one, and does have much less to do with their intelligence. how would you not consider the social worker who completely ruined one, in some cases two, lives for the scant fees, naive. or the hospital staff and judges who watched the degradation of our society and did nothing naive? thank you for your work, the village, needs to know so much more of this total ruin.

  4. Judith Land says:

    Danielle – “Interpersonal conflict” represents a struggle between two or more people, while “internal conflict” is a private and personal mental, emotional, psychological struggle. Internal conflicts that are not readily resolved may cause the person to suffer helplessness and anxiety. My diagram of the “Adoption Triangle – Thematic Conflicts of the Adoption Narrative” displays the “internal conflicts” normally associated with birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees. The birth parent struggles internally between morality verses self. Will I be better off or my child better off, if I allow someone else to raise my child? What is the moral think to do? The adoptive parent is conflicted between self and charity. Should I protect my assets and the peace and quiet of my home or listen to my heart, act compassionately and give more to charity? The adoptee who fears rocking the boat is internally torn between protecting the status quo verses self-actualization and seeking a relationship with his or her biological family or some other arrangement. These are conflicts that are most often decided internally in the mind.

    As you so obviously point out, there are many more sides to the adoption narrative than three. Social workers, lawyers, politicians, churches, relatives, agencies, nurses, caregivers, clergy and others all have a stake in the outcome of most adoptions. Most of these divergent points of view are what I would call interpersonal conflicts between opposing sides that are “actual conflicts” rather than “internal conflicts”. (Maybe we need to expand the chart) External or actual conflicts are serious protracted disagreements and mental struggles between opposing points of view that are incompatible. They are based on divergent mental ideas that agitate and produce strong feelings that stimulate strong emotional responses leading to antagonism, oppositional behavior and a struggle for power. Disagreements between people and groups often result in anger. When discord between divergent ideas can’t be resolved a schism develops that may lead to antagonism, separation, divorce, lawsuits, and the courts. Social conflicts between people and groups often give rise to politics, drama and fiction, and this is certainly the case with the international adoption narrative. Judith

    • i think you have captured the essence of the deep grief of losing a child, parent etc. however i don’t think it leads to antagonism, war, divorce, lawsuits or the courts. if it did might we see a change, and very little has changed. most girls abused by family and friends, sit in court and watch the total corruption of the sale. the sale of a baby makes an incredible amount of money for those who did far less work. the grief of a loss of love and a loss of a logical, compassionate or even a moral world is lost to those victims of agencies for more than a lifetime.

      • Judith Land says:

        Perhaps, there would be more happiness in the world if fewer adoptions took place, more people exercised their natural right of self-determinism, fewer people exploited the weak by exerting their influences, and more individuals understood the consequences and ramifications of their actions.

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  8. Billie Tealeaf says:

    I think you have described the experience of relinquishing a child without having relinquished a child. The conflict you imagine being at the core of that act misses the actual conflict.

  9. Mary Payne says:

    Judith, you have done an awesome job in describing the conflicts within the three sides. Danielle, adoption is a court process and so any conflict arising from that is going to be sealed, so the public doesn’t see all the fall-out that is currently occurring. If everyone actually knew what was going on, surely there would be change. Judith, thank you for this post. I’m going to share…

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