My study examines how Betty Jean Lifton’s 1979 book, Twice Born Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter, emphasizes the prominent issues in the adoption rights movement, specifically the search for an adoptee’s biological parents and the right to information. In my study, I first provide a brief overview of the history of adoption in the United States from the first adoption laws in the 1850s through the introduction of the adoption rights movement in the mid 1960s. I then go into my analysis where I approach Lifton’s work as a quest narrative and offer an in-depth examination of her memoir. The analysis provides insight into how scholars can understand the adoption experience through Lifton’s adoption narrative and how her work relates to the adoption rights movement.

In my study, I found that Lifton’s search for her biological parents was actually a search for identity fulfillment. In Lifton’s book, she faced challenges and set backs that allowed her to gain a better understanding of self and her adoption story. Lifton’s book serves as advocacy for other adoptees to search for their biological parents and to search with out romanticized notions about their birth parents. Lifton fought for the unsealing of adoption records so that adoptees in the future would not have to experience the same emotional turmoil.


Bostdorff, Denise

Second Advisor

Katherine, Holt


Communication Studies; History


Arts and Humanities


adoption, identity, personal narrative, quest narrative, adoption rights movement

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2017 Alexis E. Musselman