This chapter examines cases of people who walk out on their families and the impact of this on those left behind, along with the continuing search for answers by those whose relations disappeared for some reason after World War II, and by children who were separated from one or both of their birth parents. It begins by focusing on people reported missing in the United Kingdom, such as asylum seekers, and the evolution of systems to help relatives trace them. It then discusses the way in which British authorities moved from a refusal to engage with missing persons, except where a crime is suspected or in the case of minors, to a more active engagement of police in quotidian cases. It also looks at debates that reflect differing assessments of the right to disappear versus the right of relatives to know what has happened. It shows that relatives of missing persons suffer what Pauline Boss has called “ambiguous loss,” a particularly distressing form of loss.
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