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UCSF’s Gretchen Sisson Spotlights Experiences of Birth Mothers in ‘Relinquished’

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Gretchen Sisson's new book is "Relinquished: The Politics of Adoption and the Privilege of American Motherhood" (Photo Credit: Liz Corman)

We like to think of adoption as an unmitigated social good – a practice that UCSF sociologist Gretchen Sisson says “makes possible the maintenance of both the heteronormative family ideal beloved by the right and the nontraditional, chosen family ideals embraced by the left.” But Sisson says that framing ignores the experiences of birth mothers, who tend to have far less socioeconomic power than adoptive parents and who bear the complicated and even traumatic consequences of relinquishing an infant. Sisson conducted more than 100 interviews with birth mothers who relinquished their children to learn how they came to decide on adoption and the impact that decision has had on them and their families. Her new book is “Relinquished: The Politics of Adoption and the Privilege of American Motherhood.”


Gretchen Sisson, qualitative sociologist studying abortion and adoption at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, UCSF; author, "Relinquished: The Politics of Adoption and the Privilege of American Motherhood” - her research was cited in the Supreme Court’s dissent in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Serina Chacon, birth mother based in Northern California


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