Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Identity Development for Adoptees Who Become Adoptive Mothers
by Price, Janet M., Psy.D., William James College, 2016, 185; 10167649
Abstract (Summary)

The development of identity occurs and evolves throughout one’s life. Major life events contribute to the shaping of one’s identity, such as the life event of becoming a mother. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact on the identity development of adoptees when they became mothers through adoption. Previous research on adoptees becoming adoptive mothers was not found as this research study commenced. Therefore, this study was ground-breaking in beginning to understand the complexities inherent for adoptees adopting. The literature review focused upon areas relevant to this topic, including a history of adoption, the development of motherhood, stages of adoptee development throughout the lifespan, an understanding of adoptive mothering, meaning-making through a narrative lens, and historical perspectives on identity development.

The present study used a qualitative research design in which the researcher interviewed five female adoptees who had become adoptive mothers. Each participant had adopted a minimum of five years before the start of this study. Participants engaged in an appreciative inquiry interview consisting of open-ended questions about their experiences of becoming an adoptive mother.

The results of this study reveal two large categorical themes and eight subcategories. The large categorical themes are (1) a growing awareness of the impact motherhood had upon identity development for adoptees and (2) an understanding that the experience of adopting could affect the adoptee’s sense of self. The subcategories include the following: the impact being an adoptee had upon the experience of becoming a mother; the ways in which the experience of adopting stimulated memories of growing up as an adoptee; the manner in which adopting generated memories of their own mothers’ mothering, as well as creating the new shared experience of both being adoptive parents; the surprises that arose when the adoptee became a mother; the new experience of motherhood influenced by growing up as an adoptee; the deepening of self-understanding through the process of becoming a mother; the ways that becoming an adoptive mother brought both healing and pain; and loss and gain revisited through the lens of new motherhood.

These themes are discussed within the context of the literature reviewed in Chapter II. Limitations of the present study, clinical implications, and recommendations for future research are also addressed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Moncata, Samuel, Cohen, Haskel
Commitee: McEnany, Lizzie
School: William James College
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Clinical psychology, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Adoptee, Adoption, Adoptive mother, Identity, Identity development, Narrative theory
Publication Number: 10167649
ISBN: 978-1-369-21981-4
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