“I Always Wanted to Look at Another Human and Say I Can See That Human in Me”: Understanding Genealogical Bewilderment in the Context of Racialised Intercountry Adoptees

Ravinder Barn, Nushra Mansuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although there is growing literature on the situation of international adoption, there is a general paucity of research into the salience of the concept of genealogical bewilderment (GB) and racialised adult adoptees’ experiences of searching for their transnational birth families. This paper seeks to explore the relevance of the much under-studied concept of GB in relation to intercountry adoption. Through a detailed analysis of a documentary film series—Searching for Mum—that serves as an empirical example to develop the concept of GB, this paper utilises four case studies involving adult adoptees to shed light on a number of key concerns, including motivations for genealogy search, belonging, identity, body image/mirror image, and ancestral knowledge. The paper argues that even supposedly well-adjusted adoptees may desire to search for their genealogy and heredity. Moreover, such searches may indicate a quest for belonging and identity in a world where biological ties and processes of racialisation are equated with such phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Article number71
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2019

Cite this