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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Myths and Realities of International Adoptive Motherhood: A Heroine's Journey
by Flaherty, Christine, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2016, 240; 10259706
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative, phenomenological study explores the lived experience of White, American, middle-class international adoptive mothers. This project excavates the emotional, psychological and cultural sequelae of the international adoptive mother’s matrescence, her process of becoming a mother from the earliest stirrings of maternal desire to a mature adoptive motherhood 20 years later. Western culture hosts a predilection for myths with regard to motherhood, family and adoption and a tendency toward an idealization of them all. However, contrary to the popular myth that women who adopt internationally do so out of a motivation to rescue abandoned children, my findings reveal that their motivation mirrors that of traditional mothers—a natural desire to mother a child. Furthermore, the study reveals that what begins with a desire for motherhood becomes an unexpectedly multi-layered, multicultural and transformative pilgrimage of individuation—the feminine embodiment of Campbell’s monomyth. Data was acquired through in-depth interviews with 13 adoptive mothers from 7 of the United States with adopted children from 10 countries. Two methodologies were used: narrative inquiry to capture the lived experience of these mothers and portraiture to convey the findings in a creative and accessible way. Narrative themes are explored through a depth psychological lens. Emergent themes include marginalization, loss and joy, blood and belonging, genetic immunity, colorblindness, special needs advocacy, tenacity and intention, awareness of White privilege, and embracing the child’s original family and country.

Keywords: international adoption, adoptive motherhood, hero’s journey, matrescence.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Watkins, Mary
Commitee: Murdock, Maureen, Pavao, Joyce Maguire
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Depth Psychology with Emphasis in Somatic Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Developmental psychology, Clinical psychology, Individual & family studies
Keywords: International adoption, International adoptive motherhood, Matrescence
Publication Number: 10259706
ISBN: 978-1-369-64406-7
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