Pathways to Narrative Adoptive Identity Formation in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

Lynn Ann Von Korff, University of Minnesota


This dissertation examined a proposed model of narrative adoptive identity formation with specified associations among age, gender, adoptive parents’ facilitation of contact with children’s birth relatives, conversation about adoption taking place in the adoptive family, adolescent and emerging adult current emotional expression about adoption, and adolescent and emerging adult narrative adoptive identity. Two waves of data were collected from 184 adoptive families; including adoptive mothers, adoptive fathers, and adoptees (mean age 15.68 years at adolescence and 24.95 years at emerging adulthood).
The hypothesized structural model showed a good fit to sample data. Narrative adoptive identity was positively associated with both conversation about adoption and current emotional expression about adoption, sparked by meaningful adoption-related social interactions, specifically adoptive parents’ facilitation of contact. Results suggest several elements are integral to adoption-related social interactions associated with narrative adoptive identity formation: (a) adoptive parents actively facilitate interactions, (b) interactions start when children are relatively young, and (c) interactions are emotionally meaningful to young people. Adoption professionals may be helpful in identifying social interactions that meet the diverse needs of youth in adoptive families. Future research should explore the ways adoptive parents integrate different types of adoption-related social interactions into daily family life