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Master of Science (M.S.)

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Microaggression, Adopted, Adolescent, Stigma, Adoption


Sue et al. (2007, p. 271) define a microaggression as: “Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative…slights and insults towards [the marginalized group].” Microaggressions have not been used to analyze the experiences of adoptees in a bionormative society. A total of 156 interviews (males=75, females=81) and questionnaires of White adolescent adoptees in same-race families were analyzed using a mixed methods design. Study 1 used thematic analysis to discover 16 themes of microaggressions. Study 2 used the microaggression as the unit of analysis in chi squares to determine if themes were associated with levels of intensity, emotional reactions, initiators, gender, and age group. For nine themes, intensity was not equally distributed, with the most frequent level being medium. Emotion was not equally distributed across twelve themes, with the most frequent response being neutral. Initiator was not equally distributed across ten themes, with the most frequent initiators being peers/friends. Gender and age group were not equally distributed, with females most frequently experiencing three themes, and younger adolescents most frequently experiencing two themes. In Study 3, analyses used the individual person as the unit of analysis to assess the experience of microaggressions across all adoptees related to gender, age, and adoptees’ perceptions of their adoptions. Significant mean differences were found in average intensity level and number of microaggressions for males and females. Number of microaggressions and average intensity were negatively correlated with scores on the Positive Affect about adoption scale.


First Advisor

Harold D. Grotevant