Data gathered from semi-structured interviews with 33 reunited birth mothers show they had been stigmatized for their unwed motherhood and hid this identity to protect self from social censure. The public exposure created by reunion contact with their adult placed children required new ways to manage this stigma trait. The women engaged in a process of identity talk supported by their understanding of altered perceptions of female sexuality and a “no choice” discourse that drew upon historical changes in the social position of unwed mothers. This identity talk increased their self-efficacy by providing stronger control over their presentation of self.

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Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare
Pauline Jewett Institute of Women's and Gender Studies

March, K.R. (2019). Unwed motherhood, adoption reunion and stigmatized social identities. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 46(1), 49–71.