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Broadening notions of ‘missing persons’ to increase social inclusion, public empathy and healing: Considering the case of children missing through adoption

Authors:

Susan Gair ,

James Cook University, AU
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Sharon Moloney

James Cook University, AU
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Abstract

A missing person is defined as someone whose whereabouts are unknown and fears exist for the safety and welfare of that person. Families of a reported missing person experience many emotions including unresolved grief and ambiguous loss as they manage day to day with the traumatising reality of their loved one being psychologically present but physically absent. While not diminishing that recognised trauma, there are families with missing members who do not fit the usual social script of ‘missing persons’, and as a result, these families may gain different levels of public acknowledgement, support and empathy. An example is the trauma and loss felt by birth parents, tinged with a painful but enduring optimism of a reunion with their child, which might be better understood through a ‘missing person’ lens. Drawing on the personal narrative of the second author and past research of the first author, we seek to illuminate the ongoing trauma and ambiguous loss felt when a child is missing through adoption. We argue for a broader notion of ‘missing persons’ that could benefit families who remain excluded from social support and empathic understanding of their grief.

How to Cite: Gair, S. and Moloney, S., 2013. Broadening notions of ‘missing persons’ to increase social inclusion, public empathy and healing: Considering the case of children missing through adoption. Journal of Social Inclusion, 4(1), pp.90–109. DOI: http://doi.org/10.36251/josi.64
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Published on 28 Aug 2013.
Peer Reviewed

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