Understanding the concept of adoption: a qualitative analysis with adoptees and their parents
Ron W. Wilson
Mack C. Shelley, II
The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of children's and adults' experiences with adoption. This qualitative study used individual interviews to examine 25 participants---8 adoptive mothers and fathers, and their 5- to 14-year-old sons (n=5) and daughters ( n=4) adopted before 18 months. Data were collected using a phenomenological methodology and analysis of the data was guided by the following research questions: (a) What are children's and parents' overall experiences with adoption? (b) What is the social construction of adoption? (c) What do children understand about the concept of adoption and how do they construct that understanding? (d) How do language and word choices influence the concept of adoption? (e) What would you like others to know about adoption? Analysis followed steps defined by Moustakas and others and revealed five interactive themes that resonated among all families (a) parents' beliefs/experiences, (b) the need for education and change to promote adoption and positive adoption terminology, (c) communication, (d) children's understanding, and (e) identity. Limitations, future research possibilities, policy implications and implications for those who counsel, teach, and work with parents and children who have experienced adoption were identified.