The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay Blogs by Kami Hogg and Lenni-Mai Roberts-Levy



What makes a mother? Blog by Kami Hogg

 in Adoption Papers, Jackie Kay manages to bring to light the issue of adoption using the narrative voices of child, adoptive mother and biological mother. Maternal instinct is something that is not present in every woman and society often is responsible for demonising those who decide not to raise children. The discourse suggests that failure to have children is ‘unnatural’. Womanhood and motherhood are not inextricably linked and the failure to not want to raise children (be it somebody else’s or your own) does not effect your femininity. Society is becoming increasingly individualistic and the family unit is increasingly being re-moulded to accommodate such changes. But i can’t help but feel an irony in the fact the media still condemns women that don’t wish to procreate.

Holly Brockwell on her decision to be sterilised:


Race and Motherhood, Blog by Lenni-Mai Roberts- Levy

Drawing on her own experience as an adopted child, spurred by the racial slurs as a child and the experiences that shaped her life, Jackie Kay writes upon the adoption of a black child and white parents from three narratives. With the consciousness of being a black child in the 1960’s in Britain, she considers the ideology of multiculturalism. Using her poetry she explores issues of identity and loss. Unlike the writers previously studied such as Chimamanda Adichie, Jackie is mixed race. The two women have two different stories, yet share many of the same similarities, You would think being mixed of black and white race, it would have maybe given her ‘better’ opportunities, but there would always be a sense of inequality because she is of the black race, and she would always feel a sense of oppression because she is a female. Jackie Kay’s ‘Adoption Papers’, challenges and provokes thought to the concepts of ‘mixed raced’ or being able to identify with her authentic self, as her adoption papers, reflects her lack of knowing, her lineage, her roots. Kay’s literature challenges the sensitive subject ‘race’. Though she explores the experience of people from multi-racial backgrounds whose tendency is to lose oneself within this expanse that then leaves one without any individual identity or sense of self.




12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kristine Aasland on November 24, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Jackie Kay’s portrayal of how the daughter and the birth-mother are still in each other’s lives, is something I found very interesting. In ‘Chapter 8: Generations’ the daughter and birth-mother speculate about each other, about appearance and character traits. The daughter does admit that they are not in each other’s lives in a conventional way. ‘She is faceless, she never / weeps. She has neither eyes nor / fine boned cheeks’, the daughter says. (p. 30) The presence is only speculations. In the end this presence seems to have hurt the possibility of an actual relationship between the birth-mother and daughter. In ‘Chapter 10: The Meeting Dream’ the mother is now ‘too many imaginings to be flesh and blood.’ (p. 32) I wonder if The Adoption Papers and the relationship between the daughter and the birth-mother could be tied to Beloved by Morrison, and the changing presence of Beloved.


  2. Posted by Lucy Goodall on November 24, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I agree with Kami in that there is an irony within the media about women not wanting to have children and how they are condemned. The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay, brings to light these issues of different types of motherhood and I think in terms of feminism, there is a long way to go still in terms of support for different types of mothers and for those who chose not to be or those who cannot become one.


  3. Posted by annakhan on November 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Throughout these poems, Kay sheds light on the process of adoption and the stigma surrounding a child who is not of the same race as the adoptive parents. This was quite brave of her to do so and she attempted to show readers that race cannot hinder a woman’s maternal instinct.


  4. Posted by Afshan on November 24, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    I agree with Kami’s point about motherhood and also believe it is unfair for women to be placed with the burden of procreating, even if they do not want to. Once again, it is evident of the woman being seen as the “Other”, in the sense that many feel it appropriate to place unwanted responsibilities on women and yet, they would not wish it for theirselves. It is because of this that The Adoption Papers is so effective in revealing the different narritives regarding adoption.


  5. Posted by Shani on November 24, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    I never even thought about contradiction of an individualistic society that still shrouds the maternal figure in a halo and demonises the childless woman. Kami states that ‘Womanhood and motherhood are not inextricably linked’ and I have to agree, even though of course the biological capability to bear children is the most obvious feature that marks women off from men.

    Lenni-Mai’s post was really interesting because it made me think of something brought up in yesterday’s Ethnic-American strand (Global Literatures module): the significance of bloodline and ‘racial purity’. For many mixed-race men and women who were brought up in slave-masters’ households, even the smallest percentage of African ancestry was enough to blindly label them ‘black’. Therefore they were considered ‘black’ and subjugated to a barely diluted version of racism, even if their whiteness placed them above slaves and did not wholly represent their identity. I find it really upsetting to see that prejudice still prevails and is present so obviously and powerfully in Kay’s work.


  6. Posted by Sofie Korstadhagen on November 24, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    I like how The Adoption Papers show that children is also affected by the negativity surrounded adoption. Kay showed very well how that may turn into an identitt crisis for the child. I also like that even though it is a novel where wanting children is a big thing, it still doesn’t look down on women who don’t want children.


  7. Posted by Hannah Mitchell on September 30, 2017 at 4:22 pm



  8. Posted by Rachel Chandar on October 1, 2017 at 5:59 pm



  9. Posted by Becky Gawn on October 5, 2017 at 2:09 pm



  10. Posted by Lily Money on October 8, 2017 at 1:19 pm



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