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The adoptive parenting process: A study of the experiences of parents who adopt infant girls from China

Nili Luo, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Comparatively little is known about the scientific, psychological, or social issues surrounding children adopted from China and their parents. The goal of this study was to seek out links that might exist between the background of adoptive parents who had adopted children from China and their motives in adopting these children, and to explore the influence of the parents' childhood backgrounds on the way they parent, the changes in relationships within and outside the family after the adoption, and the developing importance and meaning of the adoption to the parents. I used a qualitative research design to look at the real experiences of American parents who had adopted children from China. I used a topical life history method using in-depth interviews. I also used a second interview to follow up on the questions I still had after the first interview. In addition, I used questionnaires to get basic background information (please see attached Appendix (C). I interviewed twenty American parents in ten families who had adopted children from China. The condition for inclusion in this study were: (1) The families had a prior, established relationship with me and resided in the New England area of the U.S. (2) The adopted child had to be a female from China. (3) The child must have resided in the U.S. by the age of 12 months. (4) Each family must contain two legal parents. At the time of the interviews, these children ranged in age from infancy to middle childhood. In this study of ten families, results were both expected and unexpected in light of the literature on parenting and adoption. Analysis of the interviews with the parents yielded six major themes: (1) Parents' descriptions of their own childhood family structure and childhood experiences; (2) Parents' expectations, prior to and during the adoption experience, for the adoption to improve the family unit; (3) Changes in the parents' relationships after the adoption; (4) The adoptive parents' expectations of the adopted child; (5) The most challenging experiences of the adoptive parents; and (6) the meaning of the adoption for the parents.

Subject Area

Preschool education|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Social work

Recommended Citation

Luo, Nili, "The adoptive parenting process: A study of the experiences of parents who adopt infant girls from China" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110528.