Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Finding the Freedom to Say "Yes": Parents Narrate Their Experiences With Infertility, Adoption and Choosing the Race of Their Child
by Klevan, Miriam, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2013, 257; 3556620
Abstract (Summary)

This study analyzes the narratives of 38 married, heterosexual, infertile adoptive parents. It asks how parents use narrative to reconcile a presumed reluctance to adopt with presumed satisfaction with adoption, and if there are differences in the narratives of men and women.

Qualitative analysis reveals that participants place recollections of suffering within redemptive sequences, reinterpreting difficult experiences as leading to personal growth and transformation, which in turn leads to greater connection with others. A majority of participants find profound retrospective meaning in a belief in fate and describe a greater appreciation for their children and for life itself as a result of their experiences.

Women were identified as the protagonists of the stories in the majority of cases by both husband and wife. When women were the protagonists men tended to worry about their wives, view her suffering and her path to motherhood as central to the story, and to easily give up control of the adoption process. When men were the protagonist or couples viewed themselves as equal protagonists, the process involved both partners.

The only theme that participants had a difficult time interpreting was that of race. Pals' (2006) transformational processing model was adapted to rate participants' sense of resolution regarding race. For same-race adopters resolution was associated with placing desire for a same-race child in a broader belief system, while for transracial adopters it was associated with comfort with the community of the child's birth, a belief that one could grow into dealing with race, and a belief in fate. Unresolved same-race adopters felt judged, experienced identity threat, and were inarticulate about race. One group of unresolved transracial adopters paid little attention to race at the time of adoption and later struggled with it, while another group had difficulty discussing race at all, minimized its importance, and often contradicted themselves.

The narratives are analyzed in the context of white racial experience in the United States and to discover the personal, cultural and ecological factors that contribute to a person's ability to engage in autobiographical reasoning (Habermas & Bluck, 2000) and tell a "good story" (McAdams, 2008).

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McAdams, Dan
Commitee: Chase-Lansdale, Lindsay, Lam, Eva
School: Northwestern University
Department: Social Policy to Education and Social Policy - Human Development and Social Policy
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 74/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Social work, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Adoption, Adoptive parents, Infertility, Narrative, Race
Publication Number: 3556620
ISBN: 978-1-267-98860-7
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