Barbara Sumner

The Illegitimate Other: adoptology and the manufacture of identity. A study of the structures, functions, and purpose of human adoption in society.

Commenced 2021

PhD candidate Barbara Sumner. (Photo supplied.)

Barbara is the author of Tree of Strangers (Massey University Press), a memoir of forced stranger adoption. She is actively engaged in political discourse and activism on issues affecting the lives of adopted adults. She is working to change the narrative of adoption as a social good and for the provision of human rights enjoyed by the non-adopted. Barbara is a multi-award-winning, Oscar-short-listed documentary filmmaker, a former magazine features writer, mother and grandmother.

In 2024 Barbara will be a Michael King Writers Centre Resident, and her historical novel The Gallows Bird will be published by Pantera Press.

Barbara writes: 'The Illegitimate Other: adoptology and the manufacture of identity is a hybrid thesis combining creative writing and critical research. In the form of a series of essays, it addresses a range of adoption-related issues. These include multiple legislation controlling the lives of adopted adults, the role of consent in the irrevocable, lifetime adoption contract, and Aotearoa's stolen baby era. This thesis explores the history and social experience of adoption from the point of view of the adopted adult. It is a work of activism and reclamation. Adoptology is defined as the study of the structures, functions and purpose of human adoption in society.'

Read more:

Tree of Strangers (Massey University Press)

The Gallows Bird (Pantera Press)