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A circle of life : transition from infertility to adoptive parenthood Reimer, Judi 1991

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A C I R C L E T R A N S I T I O N F R O M  O F  L I F E :  I N F E R T I L I T YT O A D O P T I V E  P A R E N T H O O D  by Judi Reimer B.A., Trinity Western University, 1986 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Counselling Psychology We accept this Thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1991 c Judi Reimer, 1991  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment  of the requirements for an advanced  degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or by  his  or  her  representatives.  It  is  understood  that  copying or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  DE-6 (2/88)  ii  A B S T R A C T The purpose of this study was to examine  the experience of a  couple  entering parenthood through adoption, following infertility. An account of this lived experience and itspersonal meaning  has been lacking in the writings  and  s t u d i e s t o d a t e . T h i s s t u d y h a s a t t e m p t e d t o b e g i n t o f i l lt h e g a p i n t h e l i t e r a t u r e by using a phenomenological  method  of research.  Interviews were conducted with six adult co-researchers; three  husband  and wife couples. Each of the co-researchers had experienced infertilityand  the  transitionto parenthood through adoption, and were able to speak about it with the researcher. The transcribeddata were analyzed using Colaizzi's(1978)  and  C o c h r a n a n d C l a s p e l l ' s( 1 9 8 7 ) f o r m a t . T w e n t y  the  themes were extractedfrom  three protocols and fellinto a natural division of three major sections; during, and afterthe adoption. Themes  before,  such as trauma, crisis,and grief were  reported during the experience of infertility,recurring themes of loss of control a n d h u m i l i a t i o n , a s w e l l a s r e l i e fa n d g r a t i t u d e w e r e e x p e r i e n c e d d u r i n g adoption, and themes of excitement,adjustment and personal growth r e p o r t e d a f t e r t h e a d o p t i o n , i n t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d . woven  into a common  the were  The themes  were  narrative and were returned to the co-researchers  for  validation. The infertilityand adoption experiences of the couples in this study found to be highly meaningful  to the co-researchers and reportedly had  a  profound impact on theirlives. Implications for counselling and for further research were included in the discussion.  were  iii  T  A  B  EO  L  FC  O  N  T  E  N  T  S  ABSTRACT  ii  A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S  v i  C H A P T E RO N E- I N T R O D U C T I O N Statement  1  of the Problem  2  Purpose of the Study C  H  A  P  T  E  RT  W  10 O- L  I  T  E  R  A  T  U  R  ER  H  V  I  E  W  1  The Experience of Infertility  12  The Adoption Experience  20  Transition to Parenthood  26  Transition to Parenthood in General  26  Transition to Adoptive Parenthood  33  S u m m a r y C  E  A  P  T  4 7 E  RT  H  R  E  E- M  E  T  H  O  D  4  Rationale  49  Overview of Research Method  50  Co-Researchers  51  Selectionof Co-Researchers  51  Demographic Information  52  Procedure  52  The FirstInterview  53  The Second Interview  54  Analysis  54  9  iv  C  H  A  P  T  Summary  E  RF  O  U  R- R  E  S  U  L  T  S  5  o f t h e C o - r e s e a r c h e r s 'E x p e r i e n c e  58  Co-researchers  V and P  58  Co-researchers  H and S  59  Co-researchers  C and K  59  Clusterof Themes  C  H  60  Before the Adoption  60  During the Adoption  61  After the Adoption  61  Descriptionof the Themes  62  Before the Adoption  62  During the Adoption  68  After the Adoption  75  The Narrative Description  83  T h e E s s e n t i a lS t r u c t u r e  92  A  P  T  E  RF  8  I  V  E- D  I  S  C  U  S  S  I  O  N  9  Restatement of the Purpose  96  Limitationsof the Study  96  Summary  97  and Discussionof Results  Counselling Implications  108  Research Implications  110  S u m m a r y  1 1 2  R E F E R E N C E S A P P E N D L XA - A d o p t i o nF l o wC h a r t s  1 1 5 1 2 5  6  V  APPENDIX B - Recruitment Announcement  128  APPENDIX C - Introductory Letter  130  APPENDIX D - Co-Researcher Consent Form  132  APPENDIX E - Interview Questions  134  vi  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to extend my humble gratitude to the co-researchers of this thesis. Their patient, honest and generous contributions have been a gift to me throughout the entire study. I also wish to thank my family and friends for their loving support throughout this endeavor. Finally, this thesis would not have been possible without the direction and assistance of my committee. Thank you to Drs. Judith Daniluk and Larry Cochran, and to Angela Henderson. My thanks in particular to Judith, who patiently and proficiently led me through this project.  We had the experience but missed the meaning, And approach to the meaning restores the experience In a different form, beyond any meaning We can assign to happiness. I have said before That the past experience revived in the meaning Is not the experience of one life only But of many generations ...  T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages, II, (1962)  1  CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION Generativity appears to be a fundamental need of the human race (Erikson, 1968). From the beginning of time, humanity has procreated itself; at times parenthood has been chosen for the parents, and at other times parents have chosen parenthood. Either way, children are born to parents and, in time, more children are born to them. The transition to parenthood appears to bring with it both joy and reward, as well as the reality of numerous adjustments in lifestyle, including shifts in marital relationships, physical, emotional, and mental fatigue, and often an overwhelming sense of responsibility for this new, tiny person (Belsky & Rovine, 1984; Hobbs, 1968; Hoffman & Manis, 1978; Lamb, 1978; Rossi, 1968). Kirk (1981) metaphorically describes the transition to parenthood as inventing fiction and attempting to act it out confidently. He writes, "we may have thought about parenthood long before we become parents, yet on the day we ourselves entered that new position for the first time, we had to make believe that we knew how to enact it properly" (p. 13). An estimated 15 to 20% of the population of couples in their childbearing years are considered infertile (Frank, 1990; Valentine, 1986). Among women 20 to 24 years of age the infertility rate has practically tripled since 1965 (Hirsch & Hirsch, 1988). Fifty percent of infertile couples who pursue parenthood will reach their goals (Collins, Wrixon, Janes & Wilson, 1983; Kliger, 1984; Poston & Cullen, 1986), either through medical means, or adoption. This would imply that there are a vast number of couples who enter parenthood after the cruel and harsh reality of infertility, followed by the  2  rigorous and often gruelling process of adoption. To acquire their long-awaited and expected dream of a child, these parents often experience significant emotional pain (Bell, 1981; Clapp, 1985; Edelmann & Connolly, 1986; Frias & Wilson, 1985; Leader, Taylor, & Daniluk, 1984; Menning, 1982; Valentine, 1986). It is precisely this segment of the population that will be the focus of this present research. Definition of terms: infertility is the inability of a couple to conceive a child after one year of unprotected intercourse (Frank, 1990; Menning, 1982); adoption is the legal acquisition of a child into a family who has not been biologically bom into the family (Feigelman & Silverman, 1983; Johnston, 1984; Melina, 1989). Statement of the Problem While society continues to romanticize the entry into parenthood, researchers have empirically examined the reality of what this transition involves (Belsky & Rovine, 1984; Hobbs, 1968; Hoffman & Manis, 1978; Lamb, 1978). In one study, more than 2500 adult respondents aged 21 to 64 evaluated the birth of their first child as being the sixth most stressful life event on a list of 102 life events, falling somewhere between separation from spouse and inability to acquire treatment for an illness or injury (Don wren wend, Krasnoff, Askenasy & Dohwrenwend, 1978). LaRossa and LaRossa (1981) acknowledged the tendency of research to "dehumanize the blessed event" (p. 219) of parenthood by subjecting the experience to so much scrutiny. As well  3  as bringing challenges and difficulties, parenthood brings personal growth, and innumerable moments of joy and satisfaction (Hebblethwaite, 1984). Bridges (1980) describes transitions as beginning with an end. He writes, "we have to let go of the old before we can pick up the new" (p. 11). For example, in the newness of parenting, the old must be acknowledged and said good-bye to. The marital dyad, whether it was glorious or gloomy, will never be the same again. There is a death here; there is a reason and a need to grieve. The beginning of parenthood is the end of the marital dyad as it previously existed, with its unique freedom. There is another ending that is part of the transition into parenthood; the loss of the hope, dream, illusion, and expectation of what parenting will be. Once the child has arrived, the fantasy of parenthood evaporates, and the reality sets in. The dream of the perfect child is replaced with the flesh and blood of a human being. Viorst (1986), writes the following: Consciously and unconsciously, even before they are born, we dream many dreams about what kind of children we want. Indeed, some experts say that our image of our newborn may be so compelling that a mother might need to give up the fantasy of the very different baby she had hoped to have, and to mourn the loss of that idealized baby, before she can mobilize her resources to interact with the baby she actually has. (p. 232) It is important, necessary, and yet always painful to give up dreams and expectations. And yet, the paradox remains. As Viorst says, "losing is the price we pay for living. It is also the source of much of our growth and gain''  4  (p. 366). For infertile couples who choose to adopt, there are a host of losses to endure, and several transitions to journey through, as they cope with their infertility, make the decision to adopt, and receive their baby. In many ways, with the possibility of feeling robbed of the biological birth experience, these couples must carve out their own routes to realizing their dream for a family. Much has been written on couples' psychological process and adjustment to their experience of infertility (Bell, 1981; Clapp, 1985; Daniluk, 1988; Edelmann & Connolly, 1986; Leader et al., 1984; Mazor, 1979; McCormick, 1980; Sandelowski & Pollock, 1986; Seibel & Taymor, 1982; Valentine, 1986). Couples may experience a myriad of emotions during this crisis of infertility. Often the grief reaction is akin to grieving a loss of another kind, involving feelings of surprise, anger, grief, guilt and depression, and isolation (Bresnick, 1981; Bresnick & Taymor, 1979; Daniluk, Leader & Taylor, 1987; Frank, 1984; Menning, 1978). In addition to the emotional "roller coaster", (Salzer, 1986) infertile couples often face difficulties as a result of the medical work-up investigating the causes of their infertility. Lovemaking often becomes a clinical exercise; the bedroom may become a laboratory. Preoccupations with fertility begin to overshadow the warmth and romance of the marital relationship (Valentine, 1986). "Many couples are asked to perform sexually on specific occasions so that a third party can medically inspect and evaluate the results of their efforts" (Leader et al., p. 461). This demanding sort of sexual performance may bring with it sexual dysfunction for both the male and the female (Berger, 1977; Rosenfeld, 1979; Rutledge, 1979).  5  Marital communication may be adversely affected during the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of infertility. Each partner may fear upsetting the other (Bresnick & Taymor, 1978), or may take a blaming stance toward the partner with the identified medical problem (Bell, 1981; Menning, 1980). Anger and withdrawal may result. Couples with a previously satisfying relationship may develop secondary dysfunctions as a result of the pressures and anxieties (Mahlsteadt, 1985) arising from their infertility, which may take 6 to 10 years before resolution is reached. Need (1982) suggests that there are four alternatives for an infertile couple, once medical intervention alternatives have been exhausted; adoption, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and child free living. There are a few more options not listed such as surrogate parenting, and "black market" babies. For the purpose of this project, the alternative of adoption will be examined. Kirk (1981) has estimated that between 2% and 4% of the population has been adopted. "In light of such numerical significance, how is one to account for the trivialization of adoption?" (Kirk, 1981, p. 4) As infertility increases, the number of adoptive parents increase (Mazor, 1979). It is therefore incumbent upon researchers to take a close, careful look at this ever growing segment of the population. To date, research reveals that "of the parties to adoption, most is known about the special needs of the adoptees" (Williams, 1984, p. 14). There appears to be a lack of information available regarding the needs of those who adopt. To understand adoptive parents' needs, it is imperative to first understand their experience. It is the intent of the researcher  6  of this study to pursue further understanding of the experience of the adoptive transition to parenthood, as seen from the adopters' perspective. Adoption is becoming an increasingly difficult option, as the availability of healthy young infants has been significantly decreased by the freely available use of birth control, increased access to legalized abortion, and the cultural trend of 75 to 90% of single women who continue with a pregnancy, keeping their babies (Cohen, 1984; Menning, 1980; Need, 1982). The couple who has faced and experienced the pain of infertility may now have to face the stress and anxiety of finding a child to enter their family through yet another painstakingly long, and invasive process. According to B.C.'s Adoptive Parents' Association, the wait for a public adoption may take 7 to 10 years. In addition, the adoption process includes a home study that may be threatening to the hopeful couple. Menning (1980) states, The home study predictably reactivates old feelings of loss of control and anger over the helplessness of infertility. It is not uncommon for a couple who think they have resolved these issues forever, to find them surface and recycle once again, (p. 144) Although adoption may appear, on the surface, to be a welcome solution to a couple's infertility, a closer look at adoption reveals yet another reality of what couples may experience as they choose to resolve their childlessness in this way. Of the research that is available on the adoptive experience, it is apparent that there may be pain and trauma for the adoptive couple on several levels. The adoptive couple must face an in depth application process, whether  7 at the public or private agency level (Kirk, 1981; Melina, 1986). Melina  (1979)  o u t l i n e sh o w a n a d o p t i v e c o u p l e m u s t u n d e r g o c o n s i d e r a b l ed i s c o m f o r t w h i c h results from having to ask for a child, and then qualify for one; neither of  which  b i o l o g i c a l p a r e n t s m u s t d o t o h a v e c h i l d r e n . T o p a r t i c i p a t ei n t h i sq u a l i f i c a t i o n process, applicants must submit to an inspection of theirprivate, emotional, financial,and religious lives. Cady  (1964) likens thisprocess to an inquisition,  the impact of which resembles that which is experienced by "penitentiary prisoners at the parole hearings that would  decide their futures" (p. 36).  B i o l o g i c a l p a r e n t s d o n o t h a v e t o s e e k p e r m i s s i o n o r p r o v e e l i g i b i l i t yf o r parenthood as do theiradoptive counterparts. In addition to the application and examination  period, the 7 to 10  w a i t f o r a c h i l d , a s w e l l a s t h e y e a r s s p e n t i n i n f e r t i l i t yi n v e s t i g a t i o n treatment, mean  year  and  thatadoptive parents are usually 12 or more years older than  theirbiological counterparts (Lifton, 1988; Melina, 1989).  "This long  f r u s t r a t i n gt i m e b e t w e e n m a r r i a g e a n d a d o p t i o n i m p l i e s t h e s h i f tt o  and  parenthood  will involve greater difficultiesfor adoptive parents than for natural parents" (Kirk, 1984, p. 9). However, period may  some authors suggest that this long  waiting  result in a more positive transitionfor the adoptive couple  1988; Edwards,  1987; Levy-Shiff, Goldshmidt & Har-Even,  discrepancy willbe examined more closelyin Chapter Whereas  1991).  (Cook, This  Two.  b i o l o g i c a lp a r e n t s h a v e h a d t h e t i m e l i m i t e d n i n e  month  gestation period to physically and psychologically prepare for their child, as well as the prenatal classes,the adoptive parents have had an unspecified wait, followed by a ring of the phone  and a maximum  of three of four days to  prepare  8 for the arrivalof theirbaby.  Although perhaps many  hoping and waiting for a baby, and in some  years have gone into  cases, even setting up a nursery,  finalgestation for an awaiting adoptive parent is unknown,  and  the  comes  unexpectedly (Salzer, 1986). Once again, the control is out of the hands of the adoptive parents and is in the hands of others, including the birth parents, agencies, social workers, and perhaps third party professionals such as doctors or lawyers. What  adoptive parents yearn for,perhaps more than anything else,  is declared theirs'on the basis of a decision of another (Johnston, 1984). the baby is "placed" in an adoptive home,  there is the additional,  traumatic wait of six months, for the adoption to become  When  sometimes  finalized (Johnston,  1984). Biological parents do not have to fear that in six months, someone  may  c o m e a n d a p p r e h e n d t h e i rb a b y b e c a u s e s o m e o n e h a s c h a n g e d t h e i rm i n d wants the baby  back.  Another painful realitythat adoptive parents may  face is that of the  reactions of family, friends,and society at large. Here the pain strikes the value of adoption is seen as not being equivalent to the value birth of one's biological child, for family members  to discuss with each  the child resembles. Kirk (1981) writes, "ithas often seemed to me  these people are not so much membership  when  of  consanguinity (Kirk, 1981, 1984, 1988; Melina, 1986). It is common, who  and  after the other that  concerned with some particularlikenessas with  and belongingness" (p. 14). Kirk suggests that there seems to be  an important sense of "clan" or "kin" for the extended families of birth parents. "It is this prima  facie connection  lacks" (p. IS). Some  unknowing  that the adoptive parent-child or unthoughtful family members  relationship may be less  9  accepting of the adopted child for thisreason. This may include grandparents who  want to know  theirgenetic line will be continued aftertheir deaths  (Melina, 1989). Even if this sense of kinship is not in the conscious  awareness  of significantothers, itmay be perceived to be the case from the perspective of the adoptive parents. It is not the purpose of this work to explore every uninformed or question of an adoptive couple. However, some of the most common  comments  remark  Kirk's (1984) research reveals  heard by adoptive parents: "Isn'tit  wonderful of you to have taken thischild?" or "This child looks so much you he/she could be your own"  (p. 30). It is comments  consanguinity,  a n d t h e f a m i l i a r f e e l i n g s o f f a i l u r ea n d p a i n m a y b e f e l ta g a i n . M e l i n a r e i t e r a t e st h e e x p e r i e n c e o f a d o p t e r s r e c e i v i n g p o t e n t i a l l y h u r t f u l  (1986)  comments.  She writes, "People who are not involved in adoption sometimes view  adoptees  kind of alien species; therefore, they think itis all right to talk  them as though they were clinicalspecimens" comments  like  like these that reinforce  to the adoptive parents that adoption is indeed "second rate" to  as some  to,  (p. 80). It is these kinds  about of  to and experiences of adoptive parents that may serve to reinforce  their "role handicap" (Kirk, 1984, p. 28). As long as generativity continues to be a need of humankind,  there will  b e t h o s e w h o w a n t t o b e a r c h i l d r e n ,b u t w h o f o r s o m e r e a s o n o r a n o t h e r c a n not. Some way.  of these people will choose adoption and enter parenthood in this  Itappears to be evident from the research thateven under  conditions, the transitionto parenthood (Belsky & Rovine, 1984; Hobbs,  may  optimum  be a difficultand stressful one  1968; Hoffman  & Manis, 1978; Lamb,  1978;  10  Rossi, 1968). Add to the parenthood transition, the prolonged traumatic experience of infertility (Bell, 1981; Clapp. 1985; Daniluk, 1988; Edelmann & Connolly, 1986; Leader et al, 1984; Mazor, 1979; McCormick, 1980; Seibel & Taymor, 1982; Valentine, 1986), and the difficult process of adoption (Johnston, 1984; Kirk, 1981, 1984, 1988; Lifton, 1988; Melina, 1986; Sorosky, Baran & Pannor, 1978; Williams, 1979), and the adoptive parents' stress may be multiplied. There is a lack of the description of this experience in the literature. Although the literature accounts for the large number of people who go through this process, the gap in the writings appears when it comes to understanding the meaning of this experience from those who have "lived it". Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to understand, from a phenomenological perspective (Cochran and Claspell, 1987; Colaizzi, 1978), couples' experience upon making the transition to parenthood through adoption, following prolonged infertility and unsuccessful medical treatment. It is hoped that with a more thorough and accurate understanding of the adoptive parents' personal experience, professionals, as well as lay people will be able to facilitate a less tumultuous process for this significant segment of the population. It is necessary, therefore, to carefully investigate the subjective experience of adoptive couples. It is the intention of the researcher to personally interview adoptive parents to gain knowledge and understanding of their experience of transition to adoptive parenthood following infertility. Research has born out the reality that the emotional well-being of adoptive  11  parents may have been hindered by others, rather than helped (Kirk, 1981, 1984; Melina, 1986). It is hoped that this current research will be helpful to both professionals and lay people who have relationships with adoptive parents, by providing insight into how to respond in more caring and appropriate ways. Inevitably, the benefit will be for the adoptive parents themselves, in that they may experience more understanding and empathy from those around them, making their journey at least a less alienating and isolating one, and at most a rich and meaningful one.  12 C  H  A  P  T  E  RT  W  O-L  The experience of adoption most commonly inevitably includes the transitioninto parenthood  I  T  E  R  A  T  U  R  ER  begins with infertilityand (Zimmerman,  1977). In this  chapter, literaturewill be reviewed from three bodies of research;infertility, adoption, and transition to parenthood. overlap between be drawn  between  As expected, there is a great deal  of  the above three foci, so at times clear lines will not be able to this closely related literature. The firstsection provides  representative overview  of infertility.Section two presents a survey of  a adoption  research, and the third section focuses on the transitionto parenting, with  an  emphasis  of  on the transitionto adoptive parenthood.  the literatureconcludes  A summary  discussion  this chapter. X  T h e E x p e r i e n c e o fI n f e r t i l i t y A myriad  of literaturehas been written about the condition ofinfertility,  and for the purpose of thisbrief overview, the research will be reviewed in the lightof three general themes that evolve out of the research; causes, c o n s e q u e n c e s , a n d r e s o l u t i o n o fi n f e r t i l i t y . In attempting to interpret the meaning course of history, itappears that the meaning  of sterilityas a symptom  in the  changes according to the values  given to procreation. It seems sterilityhas always been feared (Chelo, I n m y t h s a n d s t o r i e s ,i n f e r t i l i t y d i s t u r b s t h e m a r r i e d c o u p l e a s a n punishment; women  as a calamity.  obscure  The lack of fecundity of the earth, cattleand  was a sign of God's wrath. From  1986).  of  the 1930s untilthe early 1960s it was  widely accepted that emotional and/or psychogenic factorswere  contributing  E  V  I  E  W  13  etiology in infertility(Ford, Forman,  Wilson, Char, Mixon,  Kelly, 1942; Stallworthy,1948; Stone & Ward, (Chelo, 1986), when "the woman's Houghton,  1956). The common  1953;  belief  the infertilitywas medically "unexplained" was that it was  problem; a man cannot be in any way at fault" (Houghton 1984, p. 44). More  approximately 40% and 20%  & Scholz,  &  recent medical investigationhas revealed that  of infertilitycases can be attributedto men, 40%  to both members  to  women,  of the couple (Valentine, 1986).  Noyes and Chapnick (1964) reviewed 235 papers writtenbetween  1935  and 1963 and criticallyanalyzed 75 of these articleswhich were relatedto the psychological aspects of human  fertility. Ten psychological factors were  identifiedin the research, which were said to cause infertility. These include:  a masculine  aggressive  functional derangements,  personality,  a feminine  rejection of pregnancy,  reverse infertility, frigidity,a hostile dependence feminine role conflict, superficial psychotherapy (1981) and Wiehe  immature  factors personality,  a belief that adoption on mother,  will  anxiety due  to  reversing infertility. Bell  (1976) confer with Noyes and Chapnick (1964) thatthis  limited body of literaturewas fraught with methodological flaws, and  lacked  rigorous empirical research procedures. It is clear that the early studies on infertilityfocused on the causes. Noyes and Chapnick (1964) suggest that,"we have come  psychogenic a long  way  since Buchan (1797)" (p. 555). Noyes and Chapnick quote Buchan as having stated the  following:  Barrenness is often the consequence  of guilt,sudden fear, anxiety, or  any of the passions which tend to obstruct the menstrual flux.  When  14  barrenness is suspected to proceed from affectationsof the mind,  the  person ought to be kept as easy and cheerful as possible, all disagreeable objects are to be avoided, and every efforttaken to amuse and entertain the fancy, (p. Although  555)  the efforts to support a causal relationship  between  psychopathology and infertilityhave been highly inadequate and  somewhat  misdirected (Noyes and Chapnick, 1964), the information gained from this r e s e a r c h s e r v e s t o r e i n f o r c e t h e f a c t t h a t t h e i n f e r t i l ei n d i v i d u a l a n d / o r  couple  may well be differentiatedfrom theirmultiparous counterpartson various dimensions  o f s t r e s s - r e l a t e ds y m p t o m s .  It would  appear, that theinfertility  e x p e r i e n c e i t s e l fa n d t h e m e d i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n a n d t r e a t m e n t o fi n f e r t i l i t y , represent an event that may have negative intrapersonaland interpersonaleffects on the livesof the infertileman and woman.  With only 10%  of infertilitycases  not being attributable to organic causes, recent research has shifted itsfocus the psychological consequences  to  o fi n f e r t i l i t y .  There is a large body of literaturewhich investigates the how condition of infertilityaffects those who  experience it(Blenner, 1990;  1981; Clapp, 1985; Daniluk, 1988; Edelmann 1989; Griffin, 1983; Kraft, Palombo,  the Bresnick,  & Connolly, 1986; Frank,  Mitchell, Dean, Meyers  &  1984,  Schmidt,  1980; Lalos, Lalos, Jacobsson & Von Schoultz, 1985; Leader et al., 1984; Menning,  1980, 1982; Pohlman,  1983; Wilson, Anecdotal  1970; Seibel & Taymor,  1982; Weltzien,  1979). literature supports a strong relationship between  depression (Griffin,1983; Mazor,  1979; McCormick,  infertility and  1980). There are several  15 posited reasons for depression among  couples involved in infertilitytreatment.  The treatment of infertilityis often long-term, with monthly reminders  of  failure. Since there is often no conclusive diagnosis of infertility treatment reached, a sense of uncertainty prevails. Any  decision to stop infertility  treatment and seek alternativessuch as adoption or artificialinsemination often accompanied  by a depressive reaction. From  i n f e r t i l ec o u p l e s , m a n y  theirclinicalwork  is  with  authors have noted a depressive reaction (Berger,  Rosenfeld, 1977; Seibel & Taymor,  1982; Taymor  & Bresnick, 1978;  1977; Wilson,  1979). The depression thatinfertilecouples might experience may be manifested in one or more of the following ways: grieving over a loss (Andrews, Berger,  1970;  1974; Kirk, 1962); narcissisticinjury and a feeling of helplessness  having lost control over their lifeplans (Kraft et al., 1980); negative  at  self-image  ( P i a t t ,F i c h e r & S i l v e r , 1 9 7 3 ) ; a n d l o w s e l f - e s t e e m ( H o n e a - F l e m m i n g  &  H o n e a , 1 9 8 4 ; N e e d , 1 9 8 2 ) . A s w e l l , t h e r e m a y b e t e n s i o n a n d s t r a i no n t h e m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p( D a n i l u k , 1 9 8 8 ; F a r r e r - M e s c h a n , Rutherford, Banks & Cobum,  1971;  Klemer,  1966; Shapiro, 1982), and sexualdissatisfaction  and dysfunction (Bell, 1981; Daniluk, 1988; Debrovner  & Shubin-Stein,  Drake & Grunert, 1979; Elstein, 1975; Hirsch & Hirsch, 1988; Seibel Taymor,  1975; &  1982). Menning  (1980), a counsellor and the founder of RESOLVE,  Inc., a  national nonprofit organization which offers infertilitycounselling, referral, and s u p p o r t g r o u p s , h a s i d e n t i f i e d i n f e r t i l i t ya s a " c r i s i s " . M e n n i n g feelings that the crisismay  evoke, and acknowledges  describes  the  that the order and intensity  16 of these feelingsmay vary, as may the speed with which they are resolved. order in which Menning  clinicallyobserves, most commonly,  infertilecouples is the following:  Husami, Jewelewicz & Maidman,  1984; McCormick,  1979; Downey,  Yingling,  1989; Griffin,1983; Frank,  1980; Seastrunk, Kemery,  1984; West, 1983) agree with Menning, of infertilitymay  the experience of  surprise, denial, anger, isolation, guilt, grief,  resolution. Other authors (Bresnick & Taymor, McKinney,  The  Adelsberg, McCaskill & Bellina,  statingthat the psychological sequelae  exact a heavy tollon the physical and psychological  well-  being of the couple, as well as on the quality of theirlife. Physical and somatic manifestations of this infertilitycrisishave  been  reported to include tension headaches, upset stomachs, disruption in sleeping and eating patterns,exhaustion, and choking or tightness in the throat (Menning,  1982; Shapiro, 1982), as well as dysmenorrhea, and  (Seibel & Taymor,  1982; Shapiro,  amenorrhea  1982).  One factor mediating the impact of infertilityon individuals is gender d i f f e r e n c e . T h e r e a r e s t u d i e si n d i c a t i n gt h a t m e n a n d w o m e n respond in different ways to the consequences Bigagli, Coppini, Masciandaro  & Romani,  of infertility(Chelo, Barciulli,  1986; Downey  Sandelowski & Jones, 1986; Snarey, Kuehne,  experience and et al., 1989;  Valliant,Son & Hauser,  1987;  Ulbrich, Coyle & Llabre, 1990). In a review of 30 publications examining  the  psychological distressexperienced by infertilecouples (Wright, Allard,  Lecours  & Sabourin, 1989), itwas found that in general, female patients score higher psychological distressmeasures than  males.  on  17 Sandelowski and Pollock (1986) appear to be breaking new ground in theirphenomenological Forty-eight women  investigationinto women's  e x p e r i e n c e s o fi n f e r t i l i t y .  w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d , a n d a s k e d t o " t e l lm e a b o u t w h a t i t ' s l i k e  not to be able to have a baby when  you want to" (p. 140). The purpose was  u n d e r s t a n d t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f i n f e r t i l i t y f r o m t h e p e r s p e c t i v eo f w o m e n "lived" it. Three major themes, with variationsunder each theme,  to  who  had  were  identifiedas being ambiguity, otherness, and temporality. Ambiguity  was  spoken about as having tenuous control over theirbodies and their psychological w e l l - b e i n g . T e m p o r a l i t y r e f e r r e d t o a l t e r n a t i n gp h a s e s o f h o p e a n d d e s p a i r , coinciding with the phases of the menstrual cycle. There was a strong sense  of  earthly and body time. Otherness came out of a sense of being unfairly singled out, as well as a felt estrangement In summary,  from  fertile people.  itappears that couples afflictedwith infertility, experience  s i g n i f i c a n t l yh i g h e r l e v e l s o f p s y c h o s o c i a l d i s t r e s st h a n d o t h e i r m u l t i p a r o u s counterparts (Wright et al., 1989). impact of infertilityon couples who  This calls for further research into the areinfertile.  There is a body of literaturethat focuses on the resolution of infertility (Blenner, 1990a, 1990b; Menning,  1979, 1980; Sawatzky, 1981; Woollett,  1985). Based on her clinicalobservations, Sawatzky  (1981) has clinically  i d e n t i f i e d f o u r p s y c h o l o g i c a l t a s k s f o r t h e i n f e r t i l ec o u p l e t o a c c o m p l i s h  in  order  to effectively deal with their childlessness. These are: 1) express their feelings about their infertility;2) grieve for their loss; 3) evaluate their reasons wanting  a child; 4) make  decisions about the future.  for  18 W o o l l e t t ( 1 9 8 5 ) i n t e r v i e w e d5 0 m e n a n d w o m e n problems.  withinfertility  According to her study, allor most people interviewed were  trying  to cope with the following: 1) recognition of disruption of lifecourse caused  by  infertilityand attempts to reassertcontrol especially by seeking medical help; 2) finding a reason for their infertilityand about infertilityin general; 3)  dealing  with negative identifyof childlessnessin intrapersonal and interpersonal terms; 4) coping with loss. Other issues that were raised less frequently and less extensively were: wanting  1) trying to develop  children; 3) thinking beyond  a positive identify; 2) reasons  for  i n f e r t i l i t yt o a l i f e w i t h o u t c h i l d r e n ;  4)  reassessment of lifegoals and ways of getting needs met. The couples in this study also spoke about coping strategies,and here there were individualdifferences. Some  of the strategiesspoken about included: taking  control by seeking medical help; becoming information employing  considerable  an infertilityexpert by  seeking  and attending a self help group; dealing with a negative identity denial, or misbelief as a coping mechanism;  recognizing  accepting their feelings and attempting to find social support for Blenner (1990a) has developed in infertilitytreatment. Following  by  and them.  a substantive theory of attaining self-care Valentine's (1986) discovery that the  "to control the uncontrollable" was a common  coping mechanism  need  of infertile  patients,Blenner explored 25 couples' perceptions as they underwent infertility assessment and treatment. Blenner*s theory describes infertilepatients' movement  from a passive to an active role. This process consists of  sequential phases:  1) perceiving  actively acquiring knowledge;  that physicians lack a complete  four  picture;  3) taking control; 4) being satisfied with  2)  19 treatment (p. 98). Using the same data, Blenner (1990b) constructed a stage theory from pre-diagnosis to post-treatment for infertilecouples. The first stage is Engagement,  involving a dawning  of awareness,  facing a new  reality,  having hope and determination. The second stage is Immersion. e x p e r i e n c e i n t e n s i f y i n g t r e a t m e n t a n d s p i r a l l i n gd o w n . Disengagement,  Here  and couples  The finalstage is  i n v o l v i n g l e t t i n gg o , q u i t t i n g a n d m o v i n g  out, and shifting the  focus. The author postulates that these stages are necessary for the resolution of infertility. There is a significant amount  of literaturethat examines  the needs of the  i n f e r t i l ec o u p l e , t h e i r c o p i n g s t r a t e g i e s ,a n d h o l i s t i c f r a m e w o r k s (Batterman, 1985; Bresnick & Taymor, Davis, 1987; Mazor, 1986).  1979; Menning,  for  treatment  1979; Christie,1980; Clapp, 1979, 1980; Schinfeld, Elkins &  It is clear from this research, that itis incumbent  upon  1985; Strong,  every person  the health care and social fieldto be cognizant of the physical and  in  emotional  needs of the infertile couple. In summary that the couples who  i t i s a p p a r e n t f r o m t h e r e v i e w o f t h e l i t e r a t u r eo n i n f e r t i l i t y , experience infertilitysufferpainful consequences  which  significantlyimpact theiremotional and psychosocial well-being. The literature also indicates a need for these couples  to experience  carry on with their lives in a satisfactory way.  a resolution to be able  to  Frank (1990) delineates several  options for the infertilecouple, with adoption being one of their options if they should choose to have children.  20 The Adoption Experience In this section, issues in the literatureconcerning adoptive couple are examined.  the experience of the  Sorosky, Baran and Pannor (1978) coined the  term "adoption triangle" to refer to the three significant parties in the  adoptive  process; the birth parents, the adopted child, and the adoptive parents.  It  appears that a large proportion of adoptive literaturefocuses on the  experiences  of the adopted child,and more recentlyon those of the birthparents 1983; Brodzinsky & Schechter, 1990; Feigelman  (Arms,  & Silverman, 1983; Lifton,  1975, 1988; Melina, 1989; Sorosky, etal., 1978; Tizard, 1977). The  adoptive  p a r e n t s ' a r m o f t h e " t r i a n g l e " s e e m s t o b e w e a k l y r e p r e s e n t e d i n t h el i t e r a t u r e . It is this gap in the literaturethat this research attempts to being to fill. Of literatureavailable on the adoptive parents' experience, two general appear to emerge,  the  themes  and will be surveyed in this section; current trends in  adoption, and the psychological/emotional needs and tasks of the adoptive couple. Adoption  is becoming  a n i n c r e a s i n g l y d i f f i c u l to p t i o n f o r i n f e r t i l e  couples, as the availabilityof healthy young infants has been significantly decreased by the freely available use of birth control the abortion legislation, a n d t h e c u l t u r a lt r e n d t h a t o v e r 7 5 %  (some reportup to 90%)  who continue with a pregnancy now  keep theirbabies (Cohen, 1984;  1982; Need, 1982). Since an estimated50%  of single  couples who  may  Menning,  o f i n f e r t i l ec o u p l e s c a n n o w  assistedto achieve successful pregnancy and childbirth(Menning, Poston & Cullen, 1986), that leaves 50%  women be  1979,  1980;  of the large segment ofinfertile  potentially choose adoption as a route to parenthood.  It is  21 unknown  how  many  of these infertilecouples attempt to adopt, as most lists of  potentialadopters are closed (Houghton Although the exact number  & Houghton,  is unknown,  1984; Rosenfeld,  Burgwyn  (1981) estimates that  one in four infertilecouples in the United States seek to adopt. that in the United States, many  1980).  It is reported  of the ten million reported infertilecouples  may  choose to adopt, but are discouraged due to long waits and restrictivecriteria for prospective adoptive parents (Adoption Factbook, 1989). What have happened  is that a decrease in babies available  for  adoption has been negatively correlatedwith an increase in the numbers  of  couples who  in the last decade,  appears to  are wanting to adopt healthy infants(Menning,  of these ominous  odds, many  1980). In the light  couples are looking at alternativesto adopting  h e a l t h y s a m e r a c e i n f a n t s , s u c h a s o l d e r , i n t e r n a t i o n a l ,a n d / o r s p e c i a l n e e d s children (Need, 1982). For the purpose of this study, the focus of this review will remain on same race healthy infant adoption. A survey of the adoption statisticsin British Columbia 1990), indicatesthatbetween January and May approved adoptive familiesawaiting placement.  (B.C.  MSSH,  of 1990, there were almost Approximately  350  half of these  familieswere requesting healthy infants. There were another 1,800 families who had not been assessed or were in the process of being assessed. In  1989,  125 children under two were placed for adoption by the Ministry; some of these children had special needs. The most current statisticsreveal the total applicationsfor infantsup to May,  1991 is 1,835 families. In May,  familieswere approved for adoption with completed home  1991,  180  s t u d i e s ,a n d o n l y f i v e  healthy infantsplaced. Families who applied up to and including June  1985,  22  and have had theirhome  s t u d i e sc o m p l e t e d , a r e n o w b e i n g c o n s i d e r e d f o r  adoption of an infant. This indicates a six year wait before being considered an infant,and even then the number  for  of babies placed is very small. Due to the  realityof these grim statistics, couples may choose to pursue other routes to adoption. The B.C. Adoptive Parents AssociationNewsletter (August,  1991)  outlines the adoption options at present. They include the Ministry of Social Services & Housing, at both the InternationalGovernment Provincial Government  level and  the  level,and Private adoptions, both agency assisted and  self-directed. Whether  the chosen route for adoption is public or private, the  journey  appears to be a long and arduous one for most couples. The adoption process is outlined in Appendix  A.  A major facet of the process includes a home  study.  The home  study forms the basis for the initialselection of a family for a child.  It is noted  that a child is not chosen  child (B.C. MSSH,  1990). The home  for a family,  but a family  study involves a  is chosen  for  a  comprehensive  assessment and description of the family hoping to adopt. It includes:  reasons  for adoption application;personal aspects of mother; personal aspects of father; personal aspects of any children in the family; detailsof the  marriage  r e l a t i o n s h i p ; p a r e n t i n g a n d f a m i l y v a l u e s ; r e l i g i o n ;r e f e r e n c e s ; h o m e neighborhood; community;  and  a t t i t u d e st o w a r d a d o p t i o n a n d t h e b i r t h p a r e n t s ;  description of child preferred; availabilityto travel. It is clear, from the above survey of the current adoption trends, that the pragmatic aspects of the actual adoption are discouraging, and that the process is rigorous.  There  is a significant psychosocial  impact on the couple as  they  23  pursue adoption. As well, there are specificneeds that the adoptive couple  has  that differ from the needs of biologically expectant parents. After a couple has been on the "roller coaster" of infertility (Frank, 1984), has made  the decision to adopt, and has been through the rigors of  applying for adoption, they encounter another hurdle in awaiting the arrival of theirchild. Adoptive parents are not afforded the same preparation as their biological counterparts. Zimmerman,  (1977) states,  Society does not provide any external aids to prepare them couples) for parenthood. The woman quit her job. Seldom  (adoptive  does not wear maternity clothes or  do the prospective parents buy furniture or  clothing for the child since his actual age or size is uncertain. They not have any idea when  do  the child will arrive and often have only hours to  m a k e f i n a lp r e p a r a t i o n s . T h e y h a v e n o t m e t o t h e r p a r e n t s - t o - b e t h r o u g h preparation for childbirth classes, or in an obstetrician'soffice, and peers' children may be school-aged by now.  their  Their parents (the  grandparents)may or may not know or approve of the impending adoption, (p.  192)  An important issue for adoptive parents to recognize, is that a child adoption is not the cure for infertility(Burns, 1990; Daly, 1989; 1984; Lifton, 1988; Levy-Shiff, Bar & Har-Even,  by  Johnston,  1990; Need, 1982;  Renne,  1977; Valentine, 1986). The above writers suggest that the impact of the infertilityexperience, combined and wait, leave in their wake  with the trauma of the adoptive investigation  a unique wound  i n t h e i n f e r t i l ec o u p l e .  This  24 wound  takes time and support from friendsand often professionalsto heal,  regardless of whether or not the couple has received a  baby.  Valentine (1986) interviewed 13 infertilecouples to explore  the  emotional impact of the adoption experience. Without exception, participants described years of emotional pain and suffering. One participantstated, "I grieved like a child died for two years" (p. 65), illustratingthe extent of loss. Valentine also discovered thatcouples who  adopted one or more  her children  continued to express feelingsof loss and emotional discomfort concerning infertility. Parents commented  that "adoption is not a quick answer  infertility"and "adoption never took away  their  to  allthe feelings of emptiness" (p. 65).  These responses suggest that infertilecouples may be faced with the loss of d i s t i n c te x p e r i e n c e s : p a r e n t h o o d a n d r e p r o d u c t i o n . A c c o r d i n g study, adoption may  two  to Valentine's  meet the need to parent but not the need to reproduce  and  control one's reproductive functioning. Burns (1990) conducted an exploratory study, similar to that of Valentine's (1986), of perceptions of parenting afterinfertility. She 20 infertilecouples who had subsequently become adoption, and compared  interviewed  parents by eitherbirth or  them with 10 couples with no historyof reproductive  failure. By way of interview, Burns discovered that infertility-treatedparents were more likely to rate theirparenting as overprotective/child-centered and/or abusive/neglectfulthan the comparison-group results, Burns  challenges  current, accepted  families. Because of these  beliefs that infertility is a  transient  problem thathas no long-term impact on individuals,couples, and children raised in a family with infertilityas part of its past. Burns  states,  25 A baby, whether  by birth or adoption, is not synonymous  with fertility,  because itdoes not ameliorate the infertilityexperience. The policy "baby as an eraser"- the belief that once the infertilecouple  of  becomes  p a r e n t st h e i re m o t i o n a lp a i na n dm a r i t a ld i s t r e s sw i l ld i s a p p e been covertly supported by the community,  medical caregivers, adoption  agencies, and even support groups, (p. 187-8) Along with theirneed to acknowledge  and grieve the loss of biological  reproduction, the literatureindicatesthat adoptive couples need education, and socialsupport (Brown  & Kelly, 1987; Daly, 1989; Hochstetler,  1986; Pendarvis, 1985; Pierce, 1984; Ross, 1985). do not have control over ifand when  empowerment,  Because adoptive couples  they will receive a child, they may  helplessand, once again, out of control. As well, adoptive parents may  feel not  h a v e h a d a d e q u a t e p r e p a r a t i o na n d e d u c a t i o n t h a t m a y b e m o r e r e a d i l ya v a i l a b l e to biological parents (Brown  & Kelly, 1987; Daly, 1989). Adoptive  parents  often receive theirbaby on very short notice, without the opportunity to with the baby during pregnancy.  bond  They need early opportunity and support to  enhance parent-childbonding (Klaus & Kennell, 1976; Quinn, Carlin, Garrity & Himsworth,  1978).  In summary,  several authors refer to adoption as a "lifelong  process",  and suggest that adoptive parents need to remind themselves of that and closely in touch with the process (Lifton, 1988; Melina, 1989; Williams,  stay 1979).  Melina (1989) writes that there are seven core issues of adoption, and that all three arms of the adoption triangle;the adopted children, the adoptive parents, a n d t h e b i r t h p a r e n t s ,s h a r e t h e s e i s s u e s a n d n e e d t o s t a y a w a r e o f  them  26 throughout  their entire lifespan. These issues are: loss, rejection, guilt and  shame, grief, identity,intimacy, and control. Although pain, the author suggests that itdoesn't mean  these issues involve  adoption cannot be an  enriching  and growthfiilexperience, bringing even greater meaning to the adoptive parents' transition to  parenthood. Transition to  Parenthood  I n t h i s s e c t i o n , t h e l i t e r a t u r eo n t h e t r a n s i t i o n f r o m n o n - p a r e n t h o o d  to  parenthood will be reviewed, with specificemphasis on the transition to adoptive parenthood. The family has been conceptualized as an integrated social system of roles and statuses. It follows that adding or removing member  a  t o t h e g r o u p w o u l d n e c e s s i t a t er e a r r a n g e m e n t s i n t h e r o l e s a n d  relationships(Hobbs, 1968). In some cases, making these rearrangements be sufficiently stressfulto some  group members  may  to be classified as a crisis  e x p e r i e n c e ( L e M a s t e r s , 1 9 5 7 ) . A d o p t i o n , b e i n g a n a l t e r n a t i v er o u t e f o r achieving  parenthood,  adds a further dimension  to the transition to  parenthood  ( D a l y , 1 9 8 8 ) . T h e s a l i e n tt h e m e s a r i s i n g f r o m t h e t r a n s i t i o nl i t e r a t u r ew i l l b e surveyed in the following format: transitionto adoptive  transitionto parenthood  in general,  parenthood. Transition to Parenthood  There is an abundance  in  General  of theoretical literatureexamining  parenthood  developmental phase, analyzing the socialrole of parenthood, and parenthood  and  from a behavioral perspective (Belsky, 1981; Belsky &  1984; Belsky & Pensky, 1988; Benedek, 1959, 1970; Lamb,  studying Rovine,  1978; Rossi,  as a  27 1968). To maintain a focus on the psychological experience of parenting, in t h i s s e c t i o n t h e e m p i r i c a l l i t e r a t u r eo n t h e t r a n s i t i o n t o p a r e n t h o o d  will be  highlighted. LeMasters  (1957) conducted  a study, interviewing 46 urban,  middle  income couples whose firstchild had been born within the previous five years. A five-point scale was used:  I) no crisis; 2) slight crisis; 3) moderate  crisis; 4)  e x t e n s i v e c r i s i s ;5 ) s e v e r e c r i s i s . E i g h t y - t h r e e p e r c e n t o f t h e c o u p l e s experienced Mothers  reportedly  "extensive" or "severe" crisisin adjusting to their first child.  in these categories reported such feelings as: loss of sleep, chronic  tiredness,confinement  to home,  curtailment of social contact, loss of job, guilt  over parenting abilities,and decline in housekeeping  standards. Fathers cited  the above concerns plus: decline in sexual responsiveness of wife,  economic  pressure, worry about second pregnancy, and general disenchantment  with  p a r e n t a l r o l e . T h e r e s u l t s s u g g e s t e d t h a t t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d  may  i n v o l v e c o m p l e x c h a n g e s w h i c h a r e e x p e r i e n c e d a s d i f f i c u l tb y m a n y Dyer  (1963) administered  parents.  a Likert-type crisis scale to a sample  of  32  urban, middle income couples whose firstchild had been born within the previous two years. LeMasters (1957) five-pointscale was used. Fifty-three percent of the couples experienced "extensive" or "severe" crisisin adjusting to t h e i r f i r s tc h i l d . E i g h t - s e v e n p e r c e n t o f t h e m o t h e r s a d m i t t e d t o o n e o r "severe problems", including: adjusting to being tied down,  getting  t o b e i n g u p a t a l l h o u r s , i n a b i l i t yt o k e e p u p w i t h t h e h o u s e w o r k ,  more  accustomed  and the feeling  of anticlimax or letdown. Eight percent of the fathersadmitted to one or  more  "severe problems", including: adjusting to one income after their wife quit her  28 job, adjusting to the new demands  of parenthood, gettingused to new routines,  and having to share with grandparents and other relatives.These results again support the transitionto parenthood experience as requiring  considerable  adaptation. Hobbs  (1965) administered  a 23 item checklist to a random  sample  of  urban, lower and middle income couples whose firstchild had been born within the previous 3 to 18 weeks. separately analyzed.  Crisis scores of fathers and mothers  A five-point scale was used (LeMasters,  were 1957).  None  the couples reportedly experienced "extensive" or "severe" crisis. The  majority  ( 8 6 . 8 % ) e x p e r i e n c e d " s l i g h t "c r i s i s . T h e m o t h e r s ' m e a n c r i s i ss c o r e significantly higher than the fathers' mean following as most bothersome: fatigue,increased money most bothersome:  crisisscore. Mothers  of  was  cited the  interruptionof routine habits, tiredness and  problems, feeling emotionally upset. Fathers cited  interruptionof routine habits,and increased  as  money  p r o b l e m s . S e v e n t y p e r c e n to f t h e m o t h e r s a n d9 1 % o f t h e f a t h e r s i n d i c a t e t h e i r m a r r i a g e s w e r e m o r e h a p p y a n d s a t i s f y i n gt h a n b e f o r e t h e b i r t h o f t h e baby. Only 2%  of the mothers and none of the fathersindicatedthat their  marriages were less satisfyingthan before the baby was born. Hobbs' results differfrom those of LeMasters' (1957) and Dyer's (1963). It can be speculated t h a t t h e s e d i f f e r e n c e s m a y r e f l e c tt h e d i f f e r e n tt i m e f r a m e i n w h i c h respondents were interviewed following the arrivalof theirbaby.  Hobbs' In  Hobbs'  study, the sample of respondents was interviewed only 3 to 18 weeks after the b i r t h o f t h e f i r s tc h i l d . T h e p a r e n t s m a y "honeymoon"  stillhave been experiencing  a  phase with theirnew baby Miller & Sollie(1980), thus not  29 feeling the impact of the "crisis"as "extensively" or "severely" as the parents reportedly feltin the studies of LeMasters' and Hobbs  (1968) conducted  Dyer's.  a second study with a random  sample of  27  urban, lower and middle income couples whose firstchild had been born within the previous 6 to 52 weeks.  The method  used was a 23-item checklist and  a  focused interview. Interviews were tape-recorded and coded by a panel j u d g e s . L e M a s t e r s ' ( 1 9 5 7 ) f i v e - p o i n ts c a l e w a s u s e d . N o n e  of  of the couples  r e p o r t e d " e x t e n s i v e " o r " s e v e r e " c r i s i so n t h e c h e c k l i s t . T h e m a j o r i t y o f mothers and fathers experienced a "slight" crisis(74.1% respectively). Although the interview method  and  85.2%  yielded higher crisisscores, few  mothers and fatherswere coded as having experienced "severe" crisis (18.5% and 3.7%  r e s p e c t i v e l y ) . A g a i n , t h i s s t u d y r e v e a l s p a r e n t s o f f i r s tb o r n  as experiencing  the transition to parenthood  children  as less of a "crisis" than did  the  parents in LeMasters' (1957) and Dyer's (1963) studies. As in his study 1965, Hobbs  interviewed his sample of respondents much  t h e b a b y ' s a r r i v a l ,t h a n d i d L e M a s t e r s a n d D y e r . different results. Another Hobbs'  of  closer to the time  This may account for the  possible reason for the different resultsin both  studies,is the fact that Hobbs  of  took his sample population from  of both  lower and middle income families,whereas LeMasters and Dyer took their sample from only middle income  families. It is possible that people  from  differentlevels of income statusmay experience the impact of the transition to parenthood  w i t h d i f f e r e n ti n t e n s i t i e s .  Russell (1974) used Hobbs  (1965) 23-item checklist to administer to a  r a n d o m s a m p l e o f 2 7 1 u r b a n l o w e r a n d m i d d l e i n c o m e c o u p l e s w h o s e f i r s tc h i l d  30  had been born within the previous 6 to 56 weeks.  A five-point scale  (LeMasters, 1957) was used to separately analyze the crisisscores of fathers and mothers.  A 12-item gratificationchecklist was also administered.  percent of the mothers and 4.8%  Three  of the fathersreportedly experienced  "extensive" or "severe" crisis.The majority of the mothers and fathers experienced a "slight" crisis(57.%  and 75.1%  respectively). The  mothers'  m e a n c r i s i ss c o r e w a s s i g n i f i c a n t l y h i g h e r t h a n f a t h e r s ' . T h e m o t h e r s frequently checked the following issuesas bothering them:  worry  most  about  personal appearance, physical tiredness and fatigue,baby interrupted sleeping and rest,worry about loss of figure,feelingedgy or emotionally upset.  The  fathersmost frequently checked the following items as bothering them:  baby  interrupted sleeping and rest,suggestions from in-laws, increased p r o b l e m s , c h a n g e s o f p l a n s , a d d i t i o n a la m o u n t o f w o r k . checked  money  While the respondents  a far higher proportion of "gratification" items than "crisis" items,  the  gratificationsthey checked were more likelyto be personal ones rather than benefits to the husband-wife  relationship or to relationships outside  marriage. Most report that their marriage relationshiphad either since birth(about 42%) 7.5%  of the women  the improved  or had stayed about the same (about 43.5%).  and 5.5%  Only  o f t h e m e n f e l tt h e i r m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p h a d  deteriorated since the baby's birth. These resultssuggest that the majority these parents experienced of Hobbs  the transition as a "slight" crisis, similar to the  ( 1 9 6 5 , 1 9 6 8 ) , a n d d i f f e r e n tt h a n t h e s t u d i e s o f L e M a s t e r s ( 1 9 5 7 )  of studies and  Dyer (1963). The respondents experienced more gratificationsfrom parenting than crises, indicating that parenthood  is a mixed  blessing, with both ups  and  31  downs. Russell's study investigates a significanUy larger sample population than any of the above reviewed studies, thus being potentially more generalizable. Jaffe and Viertel (1979) conducted a study of an unspecified number of urban, lower and middle income couples who had taken part in a LaMaze prepared childbirth course. All couples were interviewed before their first baby's due date and then again at one month, three months, six months, nine months, and one year after the birth. All of the interviews were open-ended, free-flowing conversations in which the parents were encouraged to talk about the experience of their transition to parenthood. Six couples were chosen for the case-study presentation. The results suggest that the transition to parenthood is not a homogenous experience. The only general theme, according to the authors, is this: the transition to parenthood is challenging and provides an opportunity for personal growth. Although growing is a lifelong process, the particular growth spurt associated with the first year of parenting was considered the most intense, compact, and pressurized period of growth in the lives of the respondents. Miller and Sollie (1980) conducted a study on a volunteer sample of 109 predominantly middle income couples. Questionnaires were completed at three different points in time: midway through pregnancy, five to six weeks after birth, and six to eight months after birth. Structured measures of personal wellbeing, personal stress, and marital stress were repeatedly administered. Personal well-being scores of new mothers were significantly lower at time three than at time two, and personal well-being scores for the fathers were  32  significantlylower at time three than during time one or time two. Both  new  mothers and fathersreported significantlyhigher scores on personal stress items afterthey had become  parents. New  mothers reported higher stressin their  marriages afterthe baby had been born than before, and even higher marital s t r e s sb y t h e t i m e t h e b a b y w a s e i g h t m o n t h s o l d . N e w  fathers'marital stress  s c o r e s , b y c o n t r a s t , r e m a i n e d e s s e n t i a l l yt h e s a m e a c r o s s t h e y e a r o f t h e s t u d y . The fact that the majority of the significantdifferenceswere between one and eight months  support for the notion of a  "baby  Sollieand Miller (1980) used the same sample and design as the  above  honeymoon*'  postpartum provides some  month  in the early postpartum  period.  study, and included the couples' qualitativeresponses to open-ended Parents were asked to write both positiveand negative comments  questions.  about  theirbabies had meant to theirlives. The four most apparent positive expressed by the couples were:  what themes  emotional benefits,self-enrichment and  development, family cohesiveness, and identificationwith the child. The most common  four  negative experiences were: physical demands, strainson the  h u s b a n d - w i f e r e l a t i o n s h i p ,e m o t i o n a l c o s t s , a n d o p p o r t u n i t y c o s t s a n d restrictions. The resultsof this study indicate that for the respondents,  there  was an enriching experience of personal growth thatcame with the transitionto parenthood, as well as an emotional, physical and financialstrainon the couple. I t i s c l e a r f r o m t h e a b o v e r e v i e w o f l i t e r a t u r ee x a m i n i n g parenthood,  that this experience  brings with it various changes  the transition to into a  couple's  lifeexperience, both positive and negative. It would appear that parenting becomes  more stressfulover time (Dyer, 1963; LeMasters, 1957), after the  33  "honeymoon  phase" has worn off (Miller & Sollie,1980). With the exception  of the studieswhich included an interview or questionnaire during  pregnancy,  the samples did not indicate whether the couple had adopted or given birth to t h e i r f i r s tc h i l d . I t c a n b e a s s u m e d parents share some common  that adoptive and biological first-time  characteristicsof the transitionto parenthood,  however, the adoptive experience may bring other challenges for the couple (as previously mentioned).  I n t h e n e x t s e c t i o n , t h e l i t e r a t u r et h a t e x a m i n e s  the  differences, if any, between adoptive and biological entry to parenthood will be reviewed. Transition to Adoptive Numerous  Parenthood  writers postulate that there are exceptional stresseson  parents  who adopt, above and beyond the universalproblems faced by other adults in t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d ( B e r n s t e i n , 1 9 9 0 ; B l u m , Watson,  1983; Bourguignon  1987; Brodzinsky, 1987; Brodzinsky & Huffman,  1988; Daly,  DiGiulio, 1987, 1988; Johnston, 1984; Katz, 1980; Kirk, 1981; 1984; LePere, 1988; Walker, 1981; Zimmerman,  1977). Some  & 1987; 1988;  of the above writers  have conducted research to identifydifferencesbetween biologicaland  adoptive  parenting. This will be the focus of following section. As is evident by the recent publication dates of the above literature,the idea that adoptive parenting is different from biological parenting is relatively new.  Bourguignon and Watson, (1987)state: When  a new  child arrives in a family, and particularly when  child arrives, every prospective parent faces a sudden  role  the first change.  34 Adoptive  parents face a dual role change.  but adoptive parents. While becoming becoming  They become  not only  parents  adoptive parents is far more  like  biological parents than it is different, it is different, (p. 2)  One of the differencesbetween the adoptive and biologicaltransition to parenthood, Johnston,  is identified in the literatureas that of entitlement (DiGiulio, 1984; Smith  & Miroff, 1981).  Entitlement is defined as a true feeling  of belonging, parent to child, and child to parent. Developing entitlement is an ongoing  1987;  a sense  of  process of growth, rather than a single task, and  the  success of an adoption is reportedly related to the degree to which this sense  of  entitlement has been acquired. Smith and Miroff (1981) statethat entitlement requires the accomplishment  of a series of three subtasks: learning to  and deal with the psychological ramificationsof theirown recognize number  recognize  infertility;coming  to  that adoptive parenting is different from biological parenting in a of significantand unavoidable ways; and learning to handle the  questionsand comments  o f o u t s i d e r so r e x t e n d e d f a m i l y m e m b e r s  reflect society's general feeling that adoption  is a second  which often  best alternative for all  involved. DiGiulio (1987) suggests thatindividualsmay not know  how  to relate to  adoptive parents. Typical responses reportedly include avoiding the  comparison  of physical features of the child and parents, overidealizationof the adoptive parents, and asking personal questions about the child's biological parents. Extended family members they may  may not know how to approach the adoptive family;  ignore the subject or make  a distinctionbetween  the adopted child  o t h e r c h i l d r e n i n t h e f a m i l y . O n e o f t h e m o s t p o t e n t i a l l yp a i n f u l d i s t i n c t i o n s  and  35 made, is reportedly the distinctionbetween the "real" parents and the parents. Adoptive parents often hear comments  adoptive  such as, "have you told the  child about their real parents?", or "are you going to stilltry to have any your own children?" These questionsand comments  or  r e i n f o r c et h e c h a l l e n g e f o r  the adoptive parents to claim entitlement for their child. Johnston (1984) reports another challenge pertaining specifically to adoptive families; the event of "telling"the child about his/her adoption. Johnston suggests that there has been movement  through a series of  p r o f e s s i o n a l l ye n d o r s e d a t t i t u d e st o w a r d h o w a d o p t i v e f a m i l i e s s h o u l d d e a l w i t h t h e m s e l v e s . F i r s t ,i t w a s " T a k e h i m a n d l o v e h i m a s y o u r o w n .  There are  no  d i f f e r e n c e s . B u td o n ' t t e l l a n y b o d y a b o u t t h e a d o p t i o n - i n c l u d i n g t h e c h 35).  Then, the advice became, "Take him and love him as your own.  There's  n o d i f f e r e n c e . B u t , b e s u r e t o t e l lh i m a b o u t t h e a d o p t i o n " ( p . 3 5 ) . O f l a t e , t h e common  advice is,"Take him and love him as your own.  differences. And  However,  there are  b e s u r e t o t e l lh i m a b o u t t h e a d o p t i o n " ( p . 3 5 ) . T h i s  imply that adoption used to be handled by keeping ita secret, even from child. More  would the  recently, itappears that the advice from the people in the field, is  to be open about the adoption, and to stay aware of the differencesthat manifest themselves as the child grows  may  up.  Kirk (1981; 1984) has contributed a theory of adoptive  relationships  comprised of interviews,surveys and questionnaires,based on twenty years of research. The concept of an adopter's "rolehandicap" was put forthby  Kirk  (1981), following observed situationaldiscrepancies between biological and adoptive parenthood.  Kirk identifiedseveral situationaldiscrepancies  between  36 biological and adoptive parenting. Culture prepares children to expect to  have  children, whereas people are not prepared to expect infertility. Pregnancy creates early sharing of news, which in turn, leads to support during trying times, whereas the uncertainty of adoption frequently inhibitssharing of plans, which reduces support from others, along with the additional fact that through ignorance, others may be unable to rallyaround the adopting couple.  Biological  parenthood is sanctioned and rewarded by benefitswhich cover the costs of pregnancy and birth,whereas, for adopting couples there are few arrangements  equivalent  to take care of the costs of the child's arrival. Biological parents  a l s o h a v e n o r e q u i r e m e n t s t o m a k e t h e m e l i g i b l et o h a v e c h i l d r e n , w h e r e a s adopters have to show authoritiesthat they are fit for parenthood.  Biological  parents also do not need the services of a middle man, whereas adoptive do.  Parental status is initiatedduring pregnancy  the biological parents, whereas  parents  and fully secured at birth for  parental status is not fully secured for the  adopting couple until the natural parents, or the agency procures it. Biological parents need give no thought to fully integrating the child into their midst, whereas adoptive parents must simultaneously integratethe child as well as " t e l l "h i m / h e r a b o u t h i s / h e r a d o p t i o n . P r e g n a n c y  gradually prepares the  biologicalparents, whereas adoption tends to be abrupt. Also, involves external signs to others and to the couple of the couple's  pregnancy changing  position, whereas there are few signs in adopting to impress upon others their changing position. At the time of the child's birth, the family usually gathers around, often having religiousceremonies, looking for family likeness in the newborn, assertingthe new member's  part in the group, whereas in adoption  37 there are no ceremonies to mark the arrivalin the group, and looking for family resemblance  is precluded, due to lack of genetic continuity.  Kirk (1984) furthersuggests thatthere are two ways of coping with the role handicap of adoptive parenthood:  "acknowledgment  of difference" or  "rejectionof difference". Kirk, along with others (Bernstein, 1990; Brodzinsky, 1987; DiGiulio, 1987; Taylor & Starr, 1972; Smith &  Miroff,  1981) believe that healthy parenting in adoption can only occur in families which acknowledge  the differences in adoption, and in so doing accept that both  parents and children, while deriving substantialgains from this life experience, also experience significantlosses in adoption.  Such an acknowledgement  believed to help these familiesdevelop mutual compassion and  is  understanding  that will strengthen the family bond by enhancing the family members'  ability to  communicate. There are other researchers,who have empirically testeddifferences b e t w e e n t h e b i o l o g i c a l a n d a d o p t i v e t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d ( C o o k , Edwards,  1987; Hoopes,  1988;  1982; Levy-Shiff et al., 1991). These results indicate  that there are differences between adoptive parents experienced  the two; the differences being that the  less stress and difficulty,and a more  satisfying  experience in the transition than did their biological counterparts. Cook  (1988) conducted  a comparative  study to assess the difficulty  a s s o c i a t e d w i t h f i r s tt i m e t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d .  The three groups of  people  compared were those who were able to conceive, those who adopted across r a c i a ll i n e s ,a n d t h o s e w h o a d o p t e d c h i l d r e n o f t h e i r o w n  race.  Three  questionnaireswere completed by the respondents. The data revealed that the  38  b i o l o g i c a l p a r e n t s i n t h e s t u d y e n c o u n t e r e d m o r e d i f f i c u l t yt h a n t h e i r a d o p t i v e counterparts, and that there was a significant difference in the degree difficultyencountered.  Cook  of  surmised that thisdifference may be related to the  fact of the adoptive parents being married longer than the biological parents. This may  have produced  more stabilityand readiness to have a family.  E d w a r d s ( 1 9 8 7 ) i n v e s t i g a t e d , b y w a y o f q u e s t i o n n a i r e ,1 5 a d o p t i v e a n d 15 biological first time parents to discover the respondents' perceived emotional, and judgment-developmental  informal,  needs during theirtransition. Results  of the study revealed that adoptive parents perceived fewer needs than the biological parents in allcategories. Edwards transition to parenthood  surmised that although  the  can be problematic for both parent groups, itis possible  that the aspect of completely  voluntary parenting, coupled with a generally  period of time to prepare for the coming  long  infant,could have influenced adoptive  parents' perceptions of theirneeds. As well, the average age of the adoptive p a r e n t w a s 1 0 y e a r s o l d e r t h a n t h e i rb i o l o g i c a lc o u n t e r p a r t s . T h i s m a y  account  for more maturity and self-confidence in the adoptive parents. Hoopes  (1982) conducted  a comparative  longitudinal investigation  of  adoptive and nonadoptive family functioning. Multiple assessments of the q u a l i t y o f f a m i l y l i f ea n d f a m i l y m e m b e r s '  adjustment were taken from  infancy  through the early elementary school years in 30 adoptive and 30  nonadoptive  families. Results generally suggested that adoptive parents rated  themselves  more positivelythan did theirnonadoptive counterparts. For example,  during  infancy and the preschool years, there was less marital conflictamong  adoptive  couples. Adoptive couples also rated higher in areas such as parent-child  39 relatedness,acceptance of the child, praising of the child, affection and  warmth,  a n d h a n d l i n g t h e c h i l d . I n t e r e s t i n g l y ,a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s w e r e a l s o f o u n d t o f o s t e r more dependency  in theirchildren and to be rated lower on equalitarianism  (i.e.,allowing for individual points of view) and higher on anxiety regarding theirparenthood. somewhat  By contrast,biologicalparents especially,were found to be  less gentle with theirchildren; they more often suppressed affection  and used harsh discipline. As a group, adoptive parents were rated as less intrusive, less controlling, and less authoritarian than nonadoptive summarizing  parents.  t h e a t t i t u d e so f a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s r e g a r d i n g t h e i r c h i l d r e n ,  In Hoopes  stated that the adopted children were "likely to be especially cherished  and  protected because they were not easilyacquired and theiradvent into the family certainly was not taken for granted" (p. 98). Levy-Sniff  et al. (1991) conducted  a short-term  longitudinal study  to  explore preadoption/prenatal parental expectations and postadoption/postnatal parental experiences. The respondents were 104 Israelifirst-timeadoptive biological parent couples. The resultsrevealed that the adoptive parents  and  had  m o r e p o s i t i v e e x p e c t a t i o n s a n d r e p o r t e d m o r e s a t i s f y i n ge x p e r i e n c e s i n t h e i r transition to parenthood  than did the biological parents. Levy-Sniff  that itwas not surprising that adoptive parents expressed more  et al. stated  positive  expectations. The authors surmised thatthese expectationsprobably  stemmed  from the long-standing deprivation associated with their failureto bear  children  a n d f r o m t h e s t r e s s f u lw a i t i n g f o r t h e a d o p t e d c h i l d . R e g a r d i n g t h e a d o p t i v e parents' more positive self-ratingsof their transitionto parenthood,  Levy-Shiff  et al. suggested that, once again age might be a marker  and  for maturity  40  resourcefulness on the part of the adoptive parents in coping with the stresses and difficultiesof parenthood.  As well, the authors surmised that adoptive  parents' reports of better functioning may  have reflectedtheireffortsto deny  the  difficulties,reassuring others and themselves that their parenting did not differ from biological parenting. I t i s a p p a r e n t f r o m t h e a b o v e r e v i e w o f t h e a v a i l a b l e l i t e r a t u r e ,t h a t t h e r e are differences between the adoptive and biological transitionto  parenthood.  There are authors who  treacherous  postulated that the adoptive route is more  than the biological route (Brodzinsky, 1987; DiGiulio, 1987; Johnston,  1984;  Katz, 1980; Kirk, 1981, 1984, 1988; Smith & Miroff 1981), and there are authors whose  resultssuggest that the adoptive transitionto parenthood  positiveand satisfying(Cook, 1988; Edwards,  1987; Hoopes,  1982;  et al., 1991). The researcher surmised that several variables may  is  more  Levy-Shiff  account  for  these discrepant findings. Given the sense of loss, the increased negative life experience, and the determination to become  parents thatmay have  ensued,  a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s m a y h a v e h a d d i f f e r e n te x p e c t a t i o n sa b o u t h o w p o s i t i v e t h e experience would  be. Similarly, itis possible that the long deprivation  of  p a r e n t a le x p e r i e n c e m a y h a v e m a d e a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s m o r e a p p r e c i a t i v eo f t h e gratificationsand rewards associated with parenthood, as well as more  willing  and ready to accept the major changes in everyday lifepatterns and the stresses involved in the transitionto  parenthood  While the debate continues in the literatureregarding the impact of the challenges and stressesbetween  the adoptive versus the biological transition to  parenthood, some researchers have investigatedthe tasks and stages inherent to  41 adoptive parenting. These tasks and stages of the adoptive parents will be highlighted in the following Williams  section.  (1987) outlines four tasks of adoptive parents, based on  a  review of the adoption literatureover the lastten years, which add to the challenge of adoptive parenting following infertility. She added that the way w h i c h t h e s e t a s k s a r e c o m p l e t e d w i l l r e f l e c tt h e m a n n e r resolved their infertility.These tasks are observed  in which the couple  from a  has  developmental  perspective; that is, the tasks begin at the transition to parenthood, throughout  in  and  the family 's life.The firsttask is to accept the difference  continue between  parenthood by birthand parenthood by adoption. This corresponds with Kirk's (1981) acceptance or rejectionof difference theory. This requires parents to acknowledge  that they are substitutingfor birth parents and recognize that this  form of parenthood may be a second choice for them. this task requires an acknowledgement upon their lives and becomes  The accomplishment  that the birth parent will be an  a major issue in the mastery of the second  tellingthe child about his/her adoptive status. This "telling" requires with the adopted child at the various stages of his/her development must make  a decision about how  to share background  parents. The decision may become birth parents. Some  and  of  influence task: discussion parents  information on the birth  t h e f o c u s o f a m b i v a l e n t f e e l i n g sa b o u t t h e  adoptive parents indicate they are grateful that the birth  parent's circumstances have provided them with an adopted child but at the s a m e t i m e t h e y m a y b e j e a l o u s o f t h e b i r t h p a r e n t ' s a b i l i t yt o c o n c e i v e a n d  bear  children. An additional issue which affectsadoptive parenting is the possibility of incestbetween parents and children and between adopted siblings. In the  42  adopted family, the normal taboos may  not be as strong as in a biological  family, so adoptive parents' third task may be having to deal with  sexual  a t t r a c t i o nt o w a r d a d o p t e d c h i l d r e n . F i n a l l y , t h e a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s m a y  have  to  give consideration and assistance to theirchild should he/she choose to search for his/her biological family. According to Williams, thismay be perceived rejection, and as the seeking of a substitute parent, rather than a  as  normal  curiosity. Bourguignon  and Watson  for the IllinoisDepartment  (1987), in a compilation of adoption literature  of Children and Family Services, identified the  differences of adoptive parenting as "difficulties". The authors' views are that the difficultiesexperienced by adoptive parents, following aninfertility experience, usually fallinto one of seven related areas: entitlement, both legal and emotional; claiming, the process by which the adoptive parents come accept an adopted child as their own, and as a full-fledgedmember family; unmatched  to  of the  expectations, between the fantasy child and the real child;  shiftingfamily systems; separation,loss and grief;bonding and attachment; identityformation. The authors acknowledged  and  that biologicalfamilies go  through some of these transitionsas well, but that the adoptive family  may  experience the transitionas more difficult. DiGiulio acceptance  (1988) conducted  as a factor in the adoption  infertility.DiGiulio reviewed  a study in which  she examined  transition to parenthood  literaturewhich  selffollowing  indicates that self-acceptance is  important for parents to be able to fully accept theirchildren (Medinnus C u r t i s , 1 9 6 3 ) . I n t h i s s t u d y , 8 0 c o u p l e s w e r e r a n d o m l y s e l e c t e d ,w h o  & had  43  adopted children three years of age or younger.  Using a variety of self-  acceptance rating instruments, the results indicated that the higher the selfacceptance scores of the adoptive parents, the higher the parental acceptance-ofchild scores. In discussing the study, DiGiulio stated that accepting  adoptive  parents should be able to allow theirchild to express both positive and  negative  feelings about theiradoption experience without perceiving those expressions as rejectingor threatening. According recognized  to DiGiulio, accepting adoptive  parents  that the child was unique, not only as a person, but because  of  a  biological differential. As well, adoptive parents tried not to blot out biological t r a i t sa n d p r e v i o u s e x p e r i e n c e s i n a n e f f o r t t o r e m a k e  the child in their image,  negating the child's genetic and historicalbackground. that itis incumbent  These results suggest  on adoptive parents to continue to stay aware of their  levels of self-acceptance, to be able to pass a message  own  of acceptance on to their  children. Daly (1988) conducted  a study with a random  sample of 76  couples  experiencing infertility. By way of participantobservation and semi-structured interviews,Daly analyzed the process of becoming infertilityand described parenthood purported  itas a transformation  to adoptive parenthood.  an adoptive parent following  of identity from  biological  In setting up a theoretical framework,  that this shift in identity occurs as a result of certain "turning  Daly points"  or "criticalincidents", that signal new evaluations of self. Old identities, beliefs,and values may  have to be abandoned  self-concept and world view.  in the process of creating a  In the face of a fertilityproblem,  new  there are  such "criticalincidents" that precipitate a reevaluation and reshaping  of  many the  44  parenthood  identity. Through  t h e s e c r i t i c a li n c i d e n t s , w h i c h r e f l e c t t h e  i n c r e a s i n g r e a l i z a t i o no f c o u p l e s t h a t t h e y c a n n o t h a v e t h e i r o w n begin to dismande  children, they  the image of themselves as biologicalparents and slowly start  to construct for themselves a new parenthood  identitybased on adoption.  Daly  suggested that this "reshaping" of parental identity happens in three stages: assumption of fertilityand the expectations for biological parenthood;  the  the  realizationthat biologicalparenthood may be problematic; and identification with adoptive parenthood.  These findings seem to imply that itis crucial for the  adoptive parents to stay in close touch with their internal process as they  pass  through the transitionto parenthood, and to be receptive to the identify  changes  that may  accompany  thistransition.  Bernstein (1990) examined  the issue of parenting afterinfertility.  Based on clinicalobservations and an overview of the literature,Bernstein suggested  t h a t t h e i m p a c t o f t h e i n f e r t i l i t ye x p e r i e n c e ,  leaves in its wake,  a  host  of unique challenges to the parents who enter thisrole by adoption as well as  by  successful medical intervention. These challenges are described as the following.  Previously infertileparents may  that there is a real child and that it belongs  need a longer time to accept the fact to them.  child has been so intense for so long, there may  Because  the desire for  result a kind of  styleof parenting, where there is over involvement  a  overprotective  in the child's successes  and  f a i l u r e s ,a n d u n r e a l i s t i ce x p e c t a t i o n s . B e r n s t e i n w e n t o n t o s u g g e s t t h a t t h e r e may be difficultyin assuming maternal and paternal roles due to lack of role preparation and problems of self-esteem.  45  Bernstein (1990) also discussed the role of cognitive dissonance in the transitionto adoptive parenting. The author suggested that there may  be at least  three areas in which couples may experience the disturbingcoexistence of apparently contradictory thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  T h e f i r s ta r e a i s t h e  vast gap between the perfection of the fantasy infant and the real infant. second area of cognitive dissonance may  The  m a n i f e s t i t s e l fa s d i f f i c u l t yi n a c c e p t i n g  negative feelings regarding the child. There is no permission given, either by the social circleor by the parents themselves to experience sad or feelings, when  angry  the desire to have a baby is so desperate. The third area  cognitive dissonance deals with magical thinking. A common infertile couples, is the vow  vow  of  made  by  to be a perfect parent, if only they could receive  c h i l d . T h e s e u n r e a l i s t i ce x p e c t a t i o n s m a y  a  set up the adoptive parents for feelings  o f g u i l t a n d f a i l u r e . T h e l a s t t w o a r e a s o f d i f f i c u l t yi n a d o p t i v e t r a n s i t i o n , a c c o r d i n g t o B e r n s t e i n , m a y b e s t r e s s o r so n t h e m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p ,d u e  to  disrupted unity during the infertilestage, and isolationfrom family and friends, d u e t o t h e p o s s i b i l i t yo f s o c i a l w i t h d r a w a l d u r i n g t h e t i m e o f i n f e r t i l i t y . T h e implications of thisstudy appear consistentwith the findings of and Watson incumbent own  Bourguignon  (1987), Daly (1988), and DiGiulio (1988). Itappears to be on adoptive parents to give close and careful consideration to their  personal processes,availingthemselves of appropriateeducation and  support as they traverse their entry to parenthood, following theirexperience  of  infertility. Sandelowski,  Harris and Holditch-Davis (1989) referred to the transition  to parenthood through adoption or biochemical means  following infertility,as  46 "mazing". The theory of "mazing" was grounded in information obtained from 40 couples who  served as the random  sample for the study. Using  a  phenomenological method, information was obtained using open-ended interviews, constant comparison authors, "mazing",  and subject validation. According  a recursive, iterate and resource-intensive  to the  process  included  the construction of a calculus of pursuit, six distinctive patterns of pursuit,  and  the refraining of desire. Sandelowski  et al. suggested that the calculus of pursuit involved  couples construction of a matrix of resources, including time, money  the and  physical and psychic energy. Couples also determined the level of resources they were willing to invest,and the amount of regret they would experience if they did not pursue a particular option at all or any longer. The six patterns pursuit involved the following: sequentialtracking was exhibited by who when  of  couples  elected to exhaust one route before startinganother; backtracking  happened  couples restarted the medical regimen with a new physician or returned to  a previously attempted treatment; getting stuck occurred when  couples  believed  that medical persistencepaid off and were sustained by the physicians encouragement  t o c o n t i n u e ; p a r a l l e l i n go c c u r r e d w h e n  multiple tracks; taking a break involved withdrawing parenthood  through any means; and drawing  the process of the pursuit of parenthood.  couples actively pursued from active pursuit  of  the line involved putting a stop to  Finally, according to the authors, the  couples had to confront what they really wanted;  to have a baby, or to get  baby; wanting fertilityor wanting parenthood.  The refraining of desire was  recurring task, in the infertilecouples' effortsto "come  through and come  a a out  47 the other end of the maze"  (p. 225). Once again, thisstudy implies the  enormity and the complex  nature of the challenge that infertilecouples may  as they pursue  face  parenthood. S u m m a r y  Against the backdrop  of the stressof infertility(Blenner, 1990;  1988; Frank, 1984; Leader etal., 1984; Mazor, & Taymor, Menning, who  1979; Menning,  Daniluk,  1982; Seibel  1982), and the difficultyof the adoption process (Cohen,  1984;  1980; Need, 1982; Sorosky etal., 1978; Valentine, 1986), couples  choose to adopt a child must negotiate the transition to adoptive  with the universal stressesthat accompany  this transition(Dyer, 1963;  1965, 1968; Jaffe & Viertel, 1979; LeMasters,  & Huffman,  & Watson,  Hobbs,  1957; Russell, 1974; Sollie  Miller, 1980), as well as the unique issues inherent to adoptive (Bernstein, 1990; Bourguignon  parenthood  parenthood  1987; Brodzinsky, 1987;  Brodzinsky  1988; Daly, 1987, 1988; DiGiulio, 1987; Johnston, 1984; Kirk,  1981; 1984; 1988; Walker, 1981; Zimmerman,  1977).  T h e l i t e r a t u r ei n d i c a t e s t h a t t h e t r a n s i t i o n t o a d o p t i v e p a r e n t i n g with ita mixed  bag of blessing and stress (Bernstein, 1990; Brodzinsky,  Daly, 1987; Kirk, 1981; Zimmerman,  brings 1987;  1977). Not only are the adoptive parents  faced with possible exceptional stresses(Johnston, 1984; Walker, Zimmerman,  &  1981;  1977), but some authors suggest that there are also exceptional  j o y s a n d r e w a r d s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o a d o p t i v e p a r e n t h o o d 1982, Levy-Shiffetal., 1991; Zimmerman,  1977).  (Hoopes,  48  What  appears to be missing in the literature,is the individual's  experience of adoption, from a phenomenological  perspective, beginning  with  infertility,progressing through adoption, and ending with parenthood.  The  literaturerevealed facets "about" this experience, but has yet to reveal what "inside" the experience for the parents, themselves. neglected to examine This is where the literature.  the meaning  a phenomenological  Furthermore,  is  the literature  of this adoptive experience as itis lived. study can begin to attempt to fillthis gap  in  49 C  H  A  P  T  E  RT  H  R  E  E-M  E  T  H  O  Rationale Phenomenological researchfocuses on experience,from which is subsequently  ascertained. Experience  meaning  is investigated descriptively rather  than  by explanatory methods of empiricalpsychology. The methods of the natural sciences,being based on the laws of causality,are considered by some to be inadequate  to the task of studying a life experience.  "in the naturalattitudewe are too much  Gurwitsch  (1966)  absorbed by our mundane  writes:  pursuits, both  practicaland theoretical; we are too much absorbed by our goals, purposes, and designs, to pay attention to the way  t h e w o r l d p r e s e n t s i t s e l ft o u s " ( p . 4 2 7 ) .  Colaizzi (1978) echoes this perception, as he describes the need for a which,  "neither denies experience nor denigrates itor transforms it into  operationally defined behavior; it must be, in short, a method human  method  that remains  experience as itis experienced, one which triesto sustain contact  experience  with with  as it is given" (p. 53).  To understand, as fullyas possible,the experience of making transitionto parenthood phenomenological  the  t h r o u g h a d o p t i o n f o l l o w i n g p r o l o n g e d i n f e r t i l i t y ,t h e  method of research has been selectedas the most appropriate  choice for thisstudy. This method, drawn from the philosophical discipline of phenomenology,  implies an existentialview of the phenomenon  investigated, in that existentialism "seeks to understand the human  being condition  as  it manifests itselfin our concrete, lived situations" (Valle & King, 1978, p. 6).  D  50 In thisstudy the experience of adoption has been examined, from those have "lived it",beginning with infertilityand ending with Overview of Research  who  parenthood.  Method  In existential-phenomenological research, the researcher and subjects are partners, with the latterbeing referred to as "co-researchers" (Colaizzi, 1978). Dialogue  between  the partners takes place in a context of respect and trust, as  both desire to understand the meaning of an experience. The contributions of the co-researchers are valued and form the core of the study. The researcher tape-records the co-researchers' descriptions of the target experience, thoroughly studies each protocol, and extracts significant statements, for which meaning  is formulated for each statement.  Repeated  r e f l e c t i o no n t h e p r o t o c o l s r e q u i r e s m a k i n g e x p l i c i tw h a t m a y , a t t i m e s , b e i m p l i e d . T h e d e d u c e d m e a n i n g s a r e t h e n a r r a n g e d i n c l u s t e r so f g e n e r a l which are common  only themes  to allprotocols. This disciplinedcross-referencing of  transcripts,and the subsequent emerging themes creates the  phenomenological  account. This descriptive account is woven drama,  or story, implies movement  into a dramaturgical  narrative.  over time, rather than a static description,  which has meaning for only one point in time (Cochran & Claspell,1987). researcher, using this combined  This  approach,  offers a strategy for eliciting  The meaning  as the story is separated into three parts, beginning, middle and end (or before, during, and after, as applied in this study).  51  It is this phenomenological-dramaturgical the present study. This approach made  approach which  was used  itpossible for the researcher to  attention to the parts of the story, while formulating  narrative description provided the core for presenting a condensed description of the transitionsto parenthood  pay  a comprehensive,  a c c o u n t , w h i c h f a i t h f u l l yr e v e a l e d t h e c o - r e s e a r c h e r s ' e x p e r i e n c e .  in  dramatic This  version of the  through adoption for infertile  couples, stated as an essential structure. Go-Researchers Selection of  Co-Researchers  T h e f i r s tc r i t e r i o nw a s t h a t t h e c o - r e s e a r c h e r h a d b e e n d i a g n o s e d infertile and had adopted,  as a firstchild, a healthy, same  race, newborn  the last12 months prior to the initialinterview. The adoption may public or private. Research that adoption  of a mixed  race child, handicapped  this scope. As well, in phenomenological  for a complete  have  been  child, or a child older than  an  that cannot be contained in a study  of  research, the co-researcher must  be  the experience and have enough distance from itto allow  description of itbefore, during, and after the  experience  (Cochran & Claspell, 1987). In this study, the time span from the adoption the firstinterview ranged from five and a half months allco-researchers were adults who articulate their  within  (Kirk, 1981; 1984; 1988; Melina, 1986) indicates  infant brings with itadditional elements  able to communicate  as  experience.  to twelve months.  to Also,  had a wide vocabulary and thus were able to  52  Demographic  Information  Six co-researchers involved in thisstudy, were comprised of three husband/wife couples. At the time of the interview, theirages ranged from  30  to 43 years. All co-researchers were Canadian.  a  Their occupations included  Bus Driver, an Executive Secretory, two Teachers, an Administrative Assistant at a Credit Union,  and a Contractor.  All co-researchers  were  in their first  marriage, and were allchildlessbefore theiradoption. All assessed as "middle" to "upper middle" income  themselves  earners.  Procedure Following an announcement meeting (see Appendix  made at an Adoptive Parents Association  B) to inquire about interestedco-researchers, contact  was made by mail (see Appendix C) with the couples who identifiedthemselves as interested in the study. This was followed by a telephone call to further describe the study, and decipher, according to the criteriaas outiined in the S e l e c t i o n o f C o - R e s e a r c h e r s , w h e t h e r t h e c o - r e s e a r c h e r s 'e x p e r i e n c e appropriate for inclusionin the study. An appointment was then made  was for  meeting together. Prior to the firstinterview, a consent form (see Appendix along with a guideline of questions (see Appendix  D)  E) that would be asked  were  In the initialinterview,  a  mailed to the co-researchers. Each co-researcher was interviewed  twice.  d e s c r i p t i o no f t h e a d o p t i o n e x p e r i e n c e w a s e l i c i t e d .T h e s e c o n d i n t e r v i e w w a s for the purpose of validatingthe themes, and making any changes, additions, or deletions.These interviews were from five to nine months  apart.  53  The First Interview The firstinterview took place in the co-researcher's home,  or a  mutually  agreed upon private place, and lasted from one and a half to two hours. Prior to the dialogue, there was opportunity to answer any questions the co-researchers had, and to review the purpose of the study. This time was also used for rapport building. The consent forms were signed. The tape-recorded interview w a s n o n - s t r u c t u r e d a n d o p e n - e n d e d , a l l o w i n g f o r t h e c o - r e s e a r c h e r ' so w n to emerge.  story  The researcher began with the following opening statement:  I am interested in the experience you've had in your transition into adoptive parenting. Could you begin by tellingme about what led up to your decision to adopt; and then talk about the adoptive process itself;and third, about your firstyear of parenting? The intention at this point in the initialinterview was to orient the cor e s e a r c h e r s a n d t o a s s i s tt h e m t o b e g i n t o r e c o u n t t h e s t o r y o f t h e i r  own  experience, startingat what they perceived to be the beginning of the story. The researcher had on hand the questions previously sent to the co-researchers t o c l a r i f y a n d e l i c i tm o r e d e t a i l , i f t h e c o - r e s e a r c h e r l a c k e d d e p t h o r d i r e c t i o n . Open-ended  questions,such as "What does thatmean for you?"  and  " C a n y o u t e l lm e m o r e a b o u t t h a t ? " w e r e a l s o u s e d t o a s s i s tt h e c o - r e s e a r c h e r s in deepening  their exploration and discussion of the experience.  In all cases,  the co-researchers were re-livingthe experience and it was incumbent on  the  researcher to respectfullyattend and empathetically respond to the coresearchers'stories. The primary concern of the researcher was to be present to each person sharing their story, thereby allowing rich meaning  to  emerge.  54  The Second Interview The second interview took place in the co-researcher'shome, and lasted from forty-fiveto sixty minutes.  Prior to the interview, each co-researcher  had  received by mail a written copy of the initialinterview and a description of themes.  This meeting was to verify the themes thatemerged  the  from the analysis  of the protocols. One by one, each theme was discussedand the co-researchers were asked if they feltthe particulartheme was true to theirexperience.  The  co-researchers were given the opportunity to modify, add, or delete any part of the protocol and theme description. The aim of the second interview was ensure the faithfulnessof the theme descriptionsto the co-researchers  to own  story, thereby validating the thematic analysis. Analysis Following the collectionof the co-researchers' descriptions,the data transcribed verbatim into written form, and analyzed  was  phenomenologically,  adhering to the following procedure as outlined by Colaizzi (1978). 1 . T h e t r a n s c r i p t sf r o m t h e f i r s t i n t e r v i e w s w e r e r e a d n u m e r o u s attempt to acquire a feeling for the whole 2. Upon  times, in an  experience.  r e t u r n t o e a c h p r o t o c o l , s i g n i f i c a n tp h r a s e s o r s e n t e n c e s d i r e c t l y  relatedto the experience were highlighted and written on color-coded cards. Repetitions were not noted.  index  55 3. Meanings the meaning  were formulated for each significantstatement. In some  cases  was explicit,and the researcher was able to use the co-researcher's  words, as in the following  examples:  " A l l y o u r n o r m a l s e n s e o f t i m e i s d i s t o r t e d a n d i t ' sl i k e w e w e r e  in  another world." "There would  be sort of a littlebit of hope...and then  was  thisconstant back and forth." "Going going  to baby showers,  to have a  it was I was, never knowing  if I  was  child."  I n o t h e r c a s e s , t h e m e a n i n g s w e r e n o t a s e x p l i c i t ,a n d t h e r e s e a r c h e r h a d to take a creative leap from what the co-researchers said to what they The researcher was required to look closely,and "illuminatethose hidden in the various contexts and horizons of the investigated  meant. meanings  phenomenon"  ( C o l a i z z i ,1 9 7 8 , p . 5 9 ) . A s a n e x a m p l e , o n e c o - r e s e a r c h e r s a i d , " Y o u  know  what's funny is that her mother's name  is J and itgoes on...she named  her  and we named her J.M., so lotof thingshappened."  The  daughter A.M. implied meaning to this home;  revealed a sense of intuitive rightness about this baby  coming  like a destiny of fate.  4 . A t t h i sp o i n ti nt h ea n a l y s i s ,e a c ho ft h et h r e ep r o t o c o l sc o n s i s t e do f many  index cards, with the formulated meanings noted on the top of the card,  cross-referenced with the transcript itself,with the example the card below.  statements filling  The three groups of cards were laid out in three vertical rows,  under the categoriesof Before, During, and After. The groups of cards with  56 common  meanings  were compared,  sorted into clustersof themes, and given  a  titletheme to cover each group. For example, one group of cards included: fear of not being chosen, being at the mercy of others' decisions,  examination  for suitabilityof parenthood, and enduring the wait. The common  thread in all  of these situations was a sense of loss of control over one's life,so this  theme  titlebecame, Sense of Loss of Control. Colaizzi (1978) warns, "One must refuse the temptations of ignoring data o r t h e m e s w h i c h d o n ' t f i t ,o r o f p r e m a t u r e l y g e n e r a t i n g a t h e o r y w h i c h  would  merely conceptually-abstractlyeliminate the discordance of his findings thus far" (p. 61). This step required the greatest effort. Because experiences  the three  differed in content and perception, it was challenging  adoption  to arrive at a  t h e m e w h i c h w a s n a r r o w e n o u g h t o s p e c i f i c a l l y s t a t et h e m e a n i n g , a n d enough  broad  to capture the essence of each co-researcher's experience. In all twenty-  two themes were extracted. 5. At thisstage, the second interview took place. Changes, deletions and additions were noted. As a result of these validation interviews, four were merged  into two, to reduce any potential redundancy,  themes  and a totalof  twenty  t h e m e s w e r e f i n a l i z e d ,w i t h t h e c o n c u r r e n c e o f t h e c o - r e s e a r c h e r s . 6. The resultsof the analysis were integratedinto an exhaustive description of the experience of adoption; with the infertilityexperience constituting the B e f o r e , t h e a d o p t i o n c o n s t i t u t i n g t h e D u r i n g , a n d t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o  parenthood  following as the After. The themes were placed in order of occurrence, although at times they overlapped, or were repeated. The experience of the co-  57  researchers is illuminated in a story form, in such as way as possible the meaning of the  as to describe as fully  phenomenon.  7 . F i n a l l y , t h e e s s e n t i a l o r f u n d a m e n t a l s t r u c t u r e w a sw r i t t e n as concisely as possible the narrative description. It was this statement revealed the core of the adoptive experience, in terms of itsmeaning who  had experienced  framework  it. Analogous  which  to those  to the skeleton of a body, itprovided  the  necessary for form and function. In this study, the essential  structureanswered  the question: what is the meaning  adoption for infertile couples?  of the experience  of  58  C  H  A  P  T  To create a context for describing  E  RF  the themes  O  U  R-R  E  S  U  L  listed in this chapter,  brief synopsis of each co-researcher's experience is presented. The  T  S  a  formulation  of the 20 themes is then delineated, after which each theme is discussed in detail. The following section is the narrative description in which the  themes  are interwoven to form an exhaustive account of the adoptive experience. concise version then reveals the essentialstructure of thisexperience,  The  which  concludes the chapter. Summary  of the Co-researchers' Experience  The following three overviews  provide a brief synopsis of each  co-  researcher's experience of the adoption process. The storiesillustratethe individualityof the couples; illuminating the range of variations. C o - r e s e a r c h e r sV ( f e m a l e ) a n dP V and P had been married for 10 years when newborn  son, N.  (male)  they received their  For eight years they had attempted to have a child. Initially  t h e y u n d e r w e n t m e d i c a l t e s t s , i n c l u d i n g t w o s u r g i c a lp r o c e d u r e s o n V , interventions, including medications When  a pregnancy  to achieve biological conception  and of a child.  did not happen, they applied to the Ministry of Social  Services and Housing. join their family.  adopted  During  After applying, they waited six years before N came this time, P worked  to  as a bus driver and V worked  as  a n e x e c u t i v es e c r e t a r y . W h e n V w a s 3 0 y e a r so l d , a n d P w a s 4 3 y e a r so l d , t h e y received a phone call that informed  them of a baby boy whom  V was on a fertilitydrug at that time and wondered  they could  if she might be  adopt.  pregnant,  59  but they chose to adopt N.  Three days after the phone call,they signed the  p a p e r s t o f i n a l i z et h e a d o p t i o n . A l t h o u g h t h e y s a w a n d h a d c o n t a c t w i t h N , thispoint, they had to wait an additional three weeks before they could him home,  due to his premature  child, and subsequently  birth. Three  delivered a baby  Co-researchers  months  at  bring  later, V did conceive  a  girl.  H (female)  and S  (male)  H a n d S w e r e b o t h 3 5 y e a r s o f a g e w h e n t h e ya d o p t e d t h e i r n e w b o r n son, R. They had been married nine years and had been attempting to have children for eight of those nine years. They had undergone many tests, i n c l u d i n g x - r a y s a n d s u r g i c a lp r o c e d u r e s o n H , a n d t r e a t m e n t s , i n c l u d i n g surgical procedures During  and medications  this time, S was working  administrative  to achieve biological conception  as a contractor and H was working  assistant at a Credit Union.  H and S were  pursuing  through private routes, including an Internationaladoption. attempts fellthrough, until one day they received a phone  of a child. as  an  adoption  Several times, their call from their  lawyer  who  informed them that there was a baby boy available to them for adoption.  Two  days later H and S became Co-researchers  the parents to R, through private C (female)  and K  adoption.  (male)  C and K were married for nine years and both were working teachers when the adoption,  they adopted theirnewborn K and C were  attempting  as  school  daughter, J. For three years prior to  to conceive  a child.  One  and a half  of  t h e s e y e a r s w e r e s p e n t u n d e r g o i n g m e d i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o nt o d i s c o v e r t h e c a u s e t h e i n f e r t i l i t y . T h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o ni n c l u d e d t w o s u r g i c a l p r o c e d u r e s o n C ,  as  of  60 well as several courses of medication.  After deciding to adopt, K and C  waited  one and a half years before receiving J. C was 31 years of age and K was years old at the time of the adoption. From informing  them  32  the time of the phone call  of J's arrival until the time K and C picked J up, they had  hours.  K and C drove  parents  of J through  to a town  a distance from  a private adoption Clusterof  their home  and became  18 the  agency. Themes  The following listis comprised of 20 common  themes. These  themes  h a v e b e e n g i v e n s h o r tt i t l e sa n d d i v i d e d i n t o t h r e e c l u s t e r s : B e f o r e , D u r i n g ,  and  After. The "Before" clusterincludes the themes that describe the experience  of  the co-researchers from the time they attempted conception time they made  of a child until the  the decision to adopt. The "During" section comprises  the  themes of the actual adoption experience itself.The "After" cluster includes the t h e m e s t h a t o c c u r r e d f o l l o w i n g t h e a d o p t i o n u p u n t i l t h e c h i l d ' s f i r s ty e a r age; this time could be called the transitionto Before the 1. Yearning  for a biological  parenthood.  Adoption  child  2. Emotional and physical despair 3. Painful acknowledgement  o f r e a l i t yo f l o s s  4. I n c r e a s e d i n t i m a c y w i t h m a r r i a g e  partner  of  5. Heightened 6. Need  interpersonal sensitivity  for normalcy  in life  7. Acceptance of idea of adoption During the  Adoption  8. Sense of loss of control 9. Sense of imminent  culmination  10. Recognition of profound moment  in time  11. Euphoric reliefand gratitude 12. Desire to share the  news  13. Intuitivesense of rightness After the 14. Desire to parent  Adoption  adequately  15. Tolerance of perceived insensitivityof others 16. Adjustment 17. Ongoing  to abrupt lifestyle changes  thrillwith  18. Acceptance  baby  of role transitionin  marriage  62 19. Receptivity to child's biological heritage 20. Sense of personal growth Descriptionof the Before the Yearning  for a biological  Adoption  child  The couples in this study experienced wanting a child; in K's words, "it'snumber longing included a sense of urgency. panic.  "I didn't want to go through my  bear the thought."  Themes  a chronic preoccupation  one on your brain and heart."  This  For V, itwas a time of frustration; entire lifewithout children. I  For K there was a haunting bleakness, "I would  haunted by thoughts in the back of my  with almost  couldn't  be sort of  mind that I won't have a child."  Another facetof theiryearning was the awareness of peers having children and t h e p r e s s u r e o f t h e i r b i o l o g i c a l c l o c k , a s i l l u s t r a t e db y H w h e n  she said,  "Here  we are, we're gettingolder. The clock is ticking." The couples were willing to "try anything to get pregnant."  A final element to this theme  was the sense  relentlesshope even amid the bleakness of the situation. H said, "I knew  of that  s o m e w h e r e a l o n gt h e l i n e a c h i l d w o u l d c o m e a l o n g . "P s t a t e d , " . . . i t ' s o n l y a matter of time." was the uppermost  For allof the co-researchers, male and female alike, a  baby  issue in their lives.  Emotional and physical despair The couples experienced pain and humiliation on several levels during theirinfertilityexperience. There was the sense of physical invasion, during  the  63  medical testsand interventions. C said she coped by dissociating herself  from  h e r b o d y ; " I t ' sj u s t n o t v e r y p l e a s a n t t o h a v e p e o p l e g r o p i n g a r o u n d i n  your  b o d y . . . I w o u l d k i n do f p r e t e n dI w a s n ' tr e a l l yt h e r e . " V d e s c r i b e d , " Y o u p u t the most intimate part of your lifeup on display on the table to be examined it'sa really, really humiliating experience."  Another  level of trauma  was  and the  c o n s t a n t r e m i n d e r o f c h i l d l e s s n e s sb y t h e o b s e r v a t i o n o f t h e a p p a r e n t e a s e o f others' pregnancies.  In K's words, "You  guys got a good night of sex and  15  h o u r s o fl a b o ra n d t h e r e y o u g o . . . " Baby showers were a classicreminder of theirown coming  true for another and not for them.  hopes and  wishes  H recalled, "going to baby  showers,  i t w a s s o s a d . " I n C ' sw o r d s , " b a b y s h o w e r s . . . y o u w e r ej u s t b o m b a r d e d b y them.  It's like a lot of slaps in the face."  A third level of trauma  occurred  when anger, blame, and disappointment were turned inward; an interpersonal trauma. S asked these questions of fate,"...What did we do wrong:  Why  were  we chosen not to be able to have children? It'sthe normal and expected thing." V viewed  her body  as "not working  properly"; "I feltquite hostile with  myself,  you know, my body wasn't clickingright." A final facet of this despair, was the sense of being on an endless roller coaster of false hope. In S's words,  Each couple experienced a monthly rhythm  "It was a real let down  every month;  of despair.  every time H got her  period  . . . a n o t h e rm o n t ha n dn o t h i n gh a p p e n e d . " K e c h o e dt h ed e s p a i r , " I tw a sa w f u . . . C w o u l d g e t h e rp e r i o d a n dj u s t . . . a h h h . . . I f e l t s i c k . " H d e s c r i b e d "playing games a baby.  I would  with herself";"I'd count out allthe months and then there's be do it every  time even  though  I knew  I probably  wasn't  64  pregnant.  I almost tortured myself with the possibilities." Each of  these  couples hoped, planned, and subjected themselves to physical invasion and discomfort only to experience cyclical despair. Painful acknowledgement  o f r e a l i t yo f l o s s  After riding on the rollercoaster of falsehope for what seemed like an eternity,couples eventually letgo of the dream, acknowledged  the reality of  theirchildlessness,and began to grieve theirloss. C's experience  was  somewhat  differentin that she "never assumed"  pregnant.  All of the others did expect to have a biological child, so there was  significant loss to come  that she would be able to get  to terms with. The couples faced this loss with a  a  sense  o fu n e x p e c t e d n e s sa n ds h o c k . V d e s c r i b e da p a i n f u lm o m e n t ; " Ir e m e m b e r sittingin the Dr. 's office and feeling very uncomfortable.  It was like an  a c k n o w l e d g e m e n tt h a tI c o u l d n ' th a v ec h i l d r e n . . . i tr e a l l yh i tm e s i t t i n gt h e S illustrated his loss in these words,  "It's like the loss of an actual  person,  s o m e o n ew h o n e v e re x i s t e d . . . y o uw i l ln e v e rk n o w w h a ti t ' sg o i n gt ob el i k e . K recalled experiencing  this loss as a "dark cloud"  A break in genetic continuity was  of "apathy and  resignation."  acknowledged.  Increased intimacy with marriage partner The infertilityexperience brought about significantstrainand tension on the marital relationship of these couples.  For H and S there was the strain of  H  wanting to pursue foreign adoption and S "going along with itto save  our  marriage."  mentioned  They  that they became times.  remember "more  itbeing "pretty tense" at times, but also  understanding"  of each other as a result of the difficult  For V and P there was a sense of empathy  toward  each other.  V felt she  65  was "to blame"  for the infertility,and P "didn't feel that itwas her fault. It  just one of those things." V was grateful for P's support. She called him  was  her  "Rock of Gibraltar." A more  profound  intimacy was experienced,  as a result of  s u f f e r e d t h r o u g h t h e p a i n o f i n f e r t i l i t y .P p u t i t t h i s w a y ; each other better, deeper now,  after all this. I mean  "We  having  certainly  know  you really get into the  deep, deep feelings that you have in that way, with going through allthat kind of stuff." For K and C there was an extenuating  circumstance.  physically unwell and at times thought he was dying.  K  was  C feltK was  experiencing  more pain and disappointment about the infertilitythan herself,so she the "blame"  assumed  for the infertility,and was glad K did not have to add that to his  heaviness. In C's words, "If he had to bear that (the responsibilityfor the infertility)as well, I'm not sure he would  make  it." A consistent theme for the  members  of each couple, was concern for the feelingsand welfare of their  partner.  K illustratedthe strengthening of the marital bond, in the  following  words; "On the whole, our relationshiphas just developed and been sustained throughout the experience." Heightened  interpersonal sensitivity  As each participantexperienced theirown  i n t r a p e r s o n a lp r o c e s s , t h e r e  w a s a n i n c r e a s e d i n t e r p e r s o n a li m p a c t . C o u p l e s b e c a m e comments  acutely sensitive to  from family, friends,and even strangersthat were either encouraging  or alienating. These comments  w e r e i n t e r p r e t e da s b e i n g e i t h e r s u p p o r t i v e o r  isolating.K illustratedthis in his own  words; "I was feeling more and  isolated, but really isolating myself because  I would  withdraw  in social  more  66  situations." A sense of intense loneliness was experienced by the couples, that c a m e f r o m n o t f e e l i n g u n d e r s t o o d . T h e c o u p l e s f e l tt h a t s i g n i f i c a n to t h e r s assuming  that they enjoyed being childless and/or didn't want children.  recalled someone  C  saying, "you should really have one of these littiekids.  They're just so wonderful."  C's thoughts at that time were, "well, has it ever  occurred to you thatmaybe we do want them, and maybe we don't have choice right now."  V recalled her grandmother  a  hardly missing an occasion  r e m i n d V t h a t s h e w a s " s o f e r t i l et h a t e v e r y t i m e s h e p u t h e r p y j a m a s grandfather,  she got pregnant."  been through  a similar situation, or had lost a child, they simply were  empathize.  were  to  beside  V and H felt that unless another person  her  had unable  to  Couples did experience some support that they perceived as  c o m f o r t i n g . K a n d C " g o ta l o t o f a f f i r m a t i o n . . . p e o p l e t e l l i n g u s t h e b a b y w o u l dc o m e . . . t h a tw e w o u l db e g o o dp a r e n t s . " H a n d S w e r er e g u l a r l y informed by friends,of babies that were availablefor adoption and thisas supportive. Two  experienced  of the three couples attended support groups for those  hopeful and waiting for adoption. Need  for normalcy  in life  At some point in the process, each couple came  to a place of  and feltthat they needed to get off the rollercoaster of cyclical hope  exhaustion, and  despair. There was a desire to get on with life. As expressed by S, "we  needed  t oc o n t i n u et o l i v eo u rl i v e sa n d g o o n . . . w e s e n to n v a c a t i o n sa n d h a d a g o o d time."  V illustratedthe need to "give up" the daily ruminations  of attempting  get pregnant; "The only way I could carry on and get through the next day to believe that I was going to give it (the hope for pregnancy)  up."  to was  67  Metaphorically,  each couple needed to put a wide angle lens on life again.  Previously the lens had telescoped in on their desire to get pregnant. each couple a shiftoccurred.  But  As expressed by K, they reached a point  for where  they "were just getting on with our livesand we weren't reallythinking about it too much  anymore."  With this shift,the couples experienced a sense  relaxation; an acquiescence  to fate. S put itlike this; "It sort of made  lifeisn't always the way you want itto be; it'snot the perfect T.V. thing." P echoed thissense of resignation when We  he said, "We  of me  think,  sort of  had given  up.  thought if ithappens, it happens." Couples  shifted to other goals.  s i g n i f i c a n ta m o u n t  of weight.  V focused  on herself and lost a  H focused on her career. The couples had lost  control of their biological ability to procreate, but had come  to a place  of  c a r r y i n g o n w i t h l i f ea n y w a y , a n d s e e i n g w h a t o t h e r a v e n u e s o f f a t e w o u l d present. Each of the couples made  a conscious choice of how  to bear the pain  of infertility.For H, there was a strong choice not to become  "bitter". As  P  observed parents and children daily while at work, he also chose not to "bitterand  become  twisted."  Acceptance of idea of adoption A personal inner shiftoccurred as the idea of adoption surfaced. P, and K there was initialhesitation at the prospect of adoption. underlying worry and uneasiness as he went through the home acknowledged,  studies.  P the  K likened adoption  of "Russian roulette"; taking a chance on something  S,  S felt an  "I was sortof very ambivalent towards adoption right from  start... it was not what I figured was going to happen." a game  For  that he had  no  to  68  guarantee of. V, H, and C experienced  this shift toward  adoption  in a  shorter  time frame, than did K, P, and S. V, H, and C wanted to get the application process underway,  and if a child didn't come  to them biologically, they  another route to go to receive a child. Their desire seemed would  become  a parent, regardless of the means.  their decision to apply for adoption. names  had  to be to ensure  There was a pragmatism  to  In C's words, "well, we'll just get  our  in and start this process going, and if I get pregnant, great; if not,  at least it's started right away." process had begun.  they  K felt a sense of relief after the  V felt intuitively that P would  well,  adoption  shift toward  acceptance  of  adoption in time. In V's words, "I knew in my heart of hearts thatwhen we the phone call he would  want to adopt... I just feltthat he would  boy did he ever!" Each member  change,  of the couples experienced a need to  got and  move  forward toward adoption, regardlessof the factthatsome were more hesitant initially,than others.  Eventually,  all the couples came  to a  comfortable  acceptance of the idea of adoption, even though for P, thiscomplete did not come  acceptance  untilthe phone call came. During the  Adoption  Sense of loss of control The couples in thisstudy experienced another period of helplessness as the adoption examination took place. Following theirapplication for adoption, the co-researchers determine  felt a sense of being placed  their suitabilityfor parenthood.  "under  a microscope"  The couples experienced  to a sense  injusticeat having lost the control to procreate, while others seemingly  of  took this  69 event for granted, or even fellinto accidentally. There was a feeling of resentment  in the couples as they jumped  the necessary hoops to adopt a child.  C p u t i ti n w o r d s ; " I ti s n ' t f a i r t o b e s c r u t i n i z e d t o r e c e i v e a c h i l d . T h e r e i s a lot of resentment at having to be defensive about yourself to look good to be a parent."  K added.  "You  already feel vulnerable  enough  at being infertile and  childless and then you have to be scrutinized. It'sinfuriating." P the experience  of going to the Police Station for a criminal record  Biological parents do not have to subject themselves to thiswhen have a baby. reflect them  remembered  V recalled frustration at how in a different  light.  their responses  H and S described  a lengthy  search. they decide to  were being slanted  to  questionnaire;  "It  goes into incredible detailabout your personality, relationships, parents, c h i l d h o o d , b a c k g r o u n d , s c h o o l , e d u c a t i o n , r e l i g i o n ,h o w  you will bring the  child up; itwas just unreal; I mean, how  You're not  do you know?  even  parents yet." Following the scrutiny of Social Workers, the couples waited to be chosen by the birth mother.  K described beginning to second guess his  ability to be a good  K said, "We  parent.  had started to get to the point  own of  m a y b en o b o d yw a n t e du s .M a y b eo u rl e t t e r sw e r e n ' ts e l l i n g u sp r o p e r l y w h a t d i d I s a y i n t h e l e t t e r t h a th a s t o a s t e d u s f o r t h e s em o t h e r s ? " V h a d t h e s a m ef e a r ; " W e w e r ea tt h e m e r c yo ft h eb i o l o g i c a lp a r e n t s . . . w e w a i t e da n d w a i t e da n dw a i t e d . . . w e r e a l l y f e l tt h a tn o b o d yw a s g o i n gt op i c ku s . " Enduring the wait was another source of theirhelplessness. Along with the scrutiny,the wait to receive the child was experienced as one of the parts" of the adoption process.  "worst  70  Sense of imminent culmination One day a phone callcame that marked  the beginning of the end of the  couples' long and painful wait for their child. A child had been born that  was  availablefor adoption. The couples experienced an immediate sense of ecstasy, excitement,  and a flood of thoughts and feelings, as their hope for a child  finallybecome of the phone  a reality. As the co-researchers heard the voice on the other telling them  a cautioned  might  excitement;  they had a child, they experienced a practiced protection.  Very  a sense of disbelief;  soon they would  holding the long-awaited child of theirdreams in theirarms.  end  Words  be like,  "shocked", "stunned", and "disbelief illustratedthe couples' response to the phone  call. V recalled, "I just started laughing  actually."  K felt that"...  there  w a s s u s p e n s i o n i n t i m e . " T h e i n d i v i d u a l s 't h o u g h t s t u r n e d t o w a r d t h e i r s p o u s e , with questions racing through their minds like; "How  can I reach her?",  he want thisas much  home?"  There  as I do?", "When  was a "scrambling";  experienced the imminence  will she be  a "flurry" to prepare  in this way; "You  for their baby.  are a parent overnight.  "Will P You  don't have nine months to prepare and you don't have nine months to pick a n a m e . S o m e b o d y a s k e d m e i f I h a d a n y c h i l d r e n , a n d I s a i d' n o . . . I m e a n yes'." The couples' excitement heightened theirphysical senses. Sleep precluded by morning.  was  theirthoughts about meeting theirchild for thefirsttime the next  A new world was about to be entered by the couples. In K's  words,  " I t w a s l i k e w a l k i n go f f a p l a n k , i n a w a y . . . j u m p i n g o f f a c l i f f , o n l y i tw a s s o good."  The couples recalledarriving at the hospitalwith even more anticipation  and curiosity. They expressedwondering how he/she would look, and  when  71  t h e y c o u l d t o u c h a n d h o l d t h e i r b a b y f o r t h e v e r y f i r s tt i m e . C  remembered,  " W e w a i t e df o ra b o u tw h a ts e e m e dl i k ef o r e v e r. . . i tw a sp r o b a b l yo n l ya b o u t 15 minutes." Even aftereight years of waiting, 15 minutes seemed like an eternity. Recognition of profound moment  in time  Each of the couples in the study had difficultywith finding the words describe the feelingsand meaning of that moment theirbaby.  Language  to  in time when they first saw  was adequate to trace the detailsof the experience,  s e e m e d i n a d e q u a t e t o c a p t u r e t h e f e l te x p e r i e n c e . T h e f i n a ld o o r w a s  but  entered;  t h ef i n a l c o m e r r o u n d e d . . . a n d a n e w b o r n i n f a n t w a s r e c e i v e d . T h e r e w a s a sense of time stopping to usher in a new  life. For V and P there was  additional waiting period before they could take N home, extra medical  as he was  attention. V described the initialcontact with N; "We  an requiring spent a lot  of time with our hands in the incubatorjust strokinghim and making him thatwe were there and thatsortof thing." The difficultywith language  know was  i l l u s t r a t e d i nS ' s w o r d s ; " I t w a ss o . . . I t h o u g h t i t w a sl i k e . . . y o uk n o w o u r c h i l d . I t ' s a l m o s t t o o . . . I c a n ' t e x p l a i n i t r e a l l y . I t w a sa m a z i l i t t l eb o y i s r e a l l y o u r s f o r t h e r e s t o f o u r l i v e s . " K a n d C r e c a l l e d t e a r s the place of words, when words, "We  her birth mother placed J was in their arms.  taking In  w a l k e d i n a n d J ' s b i r t h m o t h e r w a s s i t t i n gi n a c h a i r w i t h t h e  C's baby  a n d h e r p a r e n t s w e r e t h e r e , t o o. . . t h e r e w a s j u s t k i n d o f c o n s t a n t c r y i n g a n d nose blowing profound  and everybody  hour."  was very emotional."  K added, "It was a  very  72  E u p h o r i c r e l i e fa n d g r a t i t u d e All of the couples in this study experienced a sense of being washed  over  b y a f e e l i n g o f r e l i e f . F o r K a n d C t h er e l i e fc a m e w h e n t h e y r e c e i v e d t h e phone call;"The minute we heard the word, itwas like our whole past was just gone.  We  didn't have to feelany of those feelingsanymore  was just wonderful!"  and itwas just... it  For S, itwas also the end of a painful era; "The  of the wild frontier isjust gone.  pressure  It's such a nice feeling." For H, the relief  came when she heard the word from her lawyer; "My lawyer phoned me  at  11:00 and she said 'everything is fine', and I just cried because  I was so  happy.  A deep sense of gratitude flowed out of each co-researcher toward  every  Oh God! person  Finally it's done!" that had a part in their baby's  arrival. H and S felt gratitude  toward  their social worker, the "sweet, sweet nurses, and the legal system, who took care of everything."  V and P remembered  just  the nurses and doctors as  " e x c e l l e n ta n d r e a s s u r i n g . " T h e n e w p a r e n t s c l e a r l yw a n t e d t o m a k e  being  known  their gratitude for their baby. A final facet of this gratitude, was deep respect and admiration for the birth mother's sacrificialchoice to relinquish her baby. realize that I would  have such a profound  In V's words; "I didn't  feeling of grief for the birth  mother  giving him up. Our joy was her pain." P was very thankful his son has the genes that he has; "He (N) is very fortunatethat he was blessed with her. got genes in him that I think are ideal... maybe  better than they might  He's have  gotten from us." The co-researchers feltdeeply for the birth mother of their child, especially when  communicating  face to face, as did K and C; "We  just  73  hugged much  her right away.  It was almost like I think at that point I was feeling  for her, and I knew  so  that we were going to leave with this baby that I  w a n t e dt op a y a t t e n t i o nt ot h eb i r t hm o t h e ra n d t a l kt oh e r. . . w e t o o kp i c t u r e s o f t h e ma n dt h e yt o o kp i c t u r e so f u s . . . w e w e r ea m a z e ds h ec o u l dd o i t . . . v e r y grateful." Desire to share the  news  The co-researchers were anxious to share thisexperience with significant others. For K and C, there was a playful aspect in wanting to know, sunset. We  the "whole  world"  "so we put her in the car in the littlebaby seat and headed off into the f e l tl i k e h o l l e r i n g o u t t h e w i n d o w  at everybody, or  something  t o t a l l ya b s u r d . " T h e c o u p l e s t o o k g r e a t p l e a s u r e i n p h o n i n g f r i e n d s a n d  family  a n dr e c e i v i n gc o n g r a t u l a t i o n s . H r e c a l l e d , " e v e r y o n ew a se c s t a t i c . T f i n a l l yh a p p e n e d . . . a f t e ra l lt h e s ey e a r s . " T h e c o u p l e se x p e r i e n c e das e n s toward how adopted.  people, especiallyfamily, responded to the fact that theirbaby Each wondered  if he/she would  was  be accepted as a biological child  would be. There was a hope, on the part of the parents, to have their baby c e l e b r a t e da s t h e i ro w n , e v e n t h o u g h t h e b a b y h a d c o m e b y w a y o f a d o p t i o n . E v e n s u b t l e m e s s a g e s t h a t t h e i r b a b y " h a d d i f f e r e n tg e n e s " w e r e p i c k e d u p the new parents. However,  by  the celebrationsof supportive friends and family far  outweighed any negative messages. The couples welcomed  allthe visitors, even  though itgot exhausting at times. There was a sense of community, f r i e n d s b r i n g i n g g i f t s ,c h a m p a g n e ,  and helpful hints and baby  gear.  with  74  I n t u i t i v e s e n s e o f Tightness Each of the couples had the sense thatthere had been something at work, other than coincidence, to bring their baby to their family at that particular time. The parents experienced a feeling of their child having been "destined" to be their home.  K and C  puzzle" coming  experienced  significant "meaning"  in the "pieces of  together: things like J (their daughter) being born in the  hospital and town that K was born in; J's birth mother's name birth mother  the same  also being J, J's  being blond and blue-eyed as are K and C, and J being given  same middle name  by both her adoptive parents, and her birth mom.  feltvery "gifted" at receiving R.  in  the  H and  S  H said, "Here we thought we had to traipse  a l l o v e r t h ew o r l dt o g e ta b a b y a n d h e ' s i n o u r o w n b a c k y a r d . . . i tf e e l s l i k e this was all meant to be."  S echoed this; "It almost makes  you believe in fate,  o r G o d , o r s o m e t h i n g . . . I ' m n o t a r e l i g i o u s p e r s o n , b u ty o u c a n ' t d e n y w h a t happened." Each couple experienced being honoured or rewarded for having through  such a long and arduous  process.  V and P felt strongly  worth the 10 year wait. V believed that the wait for N was "If somebody  that N was  "fate" or  gone well  "destiny".  told me you would have to wait another 10 years, but you will get  N o n t h eo t h e re n d , I w o u l d w a i t . "E a c h o f t h ec o - r e s e a r c h e r s a c k n o w l e d g e d that whether  a child enters a family biologically or by adoption,  all parents  start  at square one, and all take a risk in bringing up children. The parents in this study expressed that the challenges and risks of adopting theirchild were  well  w o r t h t h e f r u s t r a t i o na t t h e a p p a r e n t i n j u s t i c e ,t h e e m o t i o n a l t r a u m a , t h e l a c k privacy, the loss of control, and the interminable wait.  of  75  After the Desire to parent Each way.  Adoption  adequately  of the parents in this study experienced  Their baby had come  a need to parent the "right"  into their family, literallyovernight. Only C  stated  that she had some measure of prenatalpreparation;otherwise the couples  had  littie,itany preparation  spoke  for their immediate  transition to parenthood.  V  of her new role in thisway; "I figured we shouldn't be taking him out to shopping malls or out in public because he might catch bugs or something.  H  l a u g h e d a s s h e r e c a l l e d t h e f i r s tf e w w e e k s w i t h R .  H  The day R came  said to her sister-in-law, "I think I only need one bottle." H's responded,  "I'llmake  home,  sister-in-law  you about six." H's response was "I just didn't have  a  clue." With no formal prenatal preparation and no postnatal hospitalstay, there were many  detailsthat the couples did not know  recalled, "So that was a littlescary, knowing  regarding infant care. that now  C  we were in charge  of  c a r i n gf o rt h i sl i t t l eo n ea n db o y - w e j u s tw a n t e dt od o t h eb e s tt h a tw e k n e w how  and hoped that itwould work."  the adequate  emotional  The couples expressed a desire to  needs for their new  provide  child. V illustrated this; "I just  w a n t e d h i m t o h a v e a s e n s e o f b e l o n g i n g a n d a s e n s e o f s e c u r i t y . . . t h ew h o l e time, allevening I would be holding him."  The co-researchers were  keenly  aware of the weight of thisnew responsibility,and at times fearfulof not being adequate to meet the  demands.  Tolerance of perceived insensitivitvof others Along with the celebration and support, the couples received potentially hurtfulcomments  and messages. Although these words and behaviours hurt at  76 some level,the co-researchers had the grace and benevolence to overlook  the  c o m m e n ta n de v e nd e f e n dt h ep e r s o nw h o m a d ei t . C a n dK h e a r dc o m m e n t s like, "You  guys don't deserve this(an easy baby to care for);you're going  pay your price laterwhen  she's a teenager." Their response was, "We  to  paid the  price before we got her." H and S had people say to them things like,  "Oh  well, you guys did itthe right way; you didn't have to go through labor." and S responded  by relegating these comments  to a "lack of education";  H that  people were not purposefully trying to be rude, but had not experienced this event themselves and did not know  what to say to those who  and P were hurt by the lack of time and attention shown attempted  had adopted.  V  to N by V's mother.  to rationalize the apparent rejection by saying, that itwas not  "deliberatetrying to ignore N", but it's"because she's wrapped life and really has no time for kids." V and P also defended  a  up in her  V's  hurtfulbehaviour by saying, "I don't letitoffend me because my  P own  grandmother's grandmother  i s8 5 y e a r s o l da n d s h e ' s n o tg o i n g t o c h a n g e n o w . . . s h e ' s f r o m a d i f f e r e n t school of thought." The couples were able to fend off potentially "poisonous" comments experienced  now that they had theirlong-awaited baby in theirarms. The somewhat  of a halo-effect, remaining  impervious  parents  to the  i n s e n s i t i v i t yo f o t h e r s . Adjustment  to abrupt lifestyle changes  Although  there may  not have been a physical readiness, involving  like formula, clothing, nursery, and even choosing a name researchers experienced necessary  adjustments  things  for the baby, the co-  a sense of "psychological readiness" to make to their respective lifestyles. C and K welcomed  the the  77  changes that J brought into their lives; "We  were ready to be parents.  We've  been looking forward to and hoping for a child for a long time. We  spent  y e a r s o n o u r o w n , d o i n g l o t so f t h i n g s a n d e n j o y i n g o u r f r e e d o m , a n d we've stepped into a new phase without looking back. We on with a child and that's what we're doing." employment  to stay home  different,but itseemed  nine  now  just planned to carry  P recalled interrupting  for a period of time to look after H.  "It  his was  like the most natural thing in the world to be  looking  after him." T h e c o u p l e s a l s o e x p e r i e n c e d s i g n i f i c a n tc h a n g e s i n t h e i r s l e e p i n g h a b i t s . S noticed the change in this way; "I found myself fallingasleep and then I'd w a k e u p a n d n o tk n o w w h e r e I w a s a n d s o r t o f w o n d e r w h a t ' s g o i n g o n . . . a n d then I'd go, oh yeah, I've got a baby; is R OK?" brought a change in location: "This move having N and I am  happy  to stay home  For V and P, N's  arrival  to Victoria was in large part due and raise my  children.  to  It's what I  want  to do." The change was experienced so abruptly thatat times the couples momentarily  forgot that they had a child.  recreational activity, and all of a sudden movie,  we've  H and S would remember,  be planning  for  a  "oh yeah, we can't go to a  got a child, and we don't have a baby-sitter."  K recalled  learning  t o " r e p l a c e a c t i v i t i e s "w i t h o t h e r a c t i v i t i e s . I n K ' s w o r d s , " I d o f e e l t h e  pinch  on my time in terms of doing adventurous things like going on a whole day  hike  i n s o m e r e m o t e p l a c e . . . I t ' s a t r a d e - o f f . Y o u h a v ek i d s , a n d y o u c h o o s e t o d o other things." In H's words, "Life does change quite a bit. You up and do whatever you want to do. We  can't just get  both got used to itquite quickly."  78  There  was an adjustment  change",  for these couples; a "getting used to", a  a "trade-off", but they found themselves  "drastic  readily accepting the difficult  a n d t h e n e g a t i v e a s p e c t s o f t h e p a r e n t h o o d t r a n s i t i o na l o n g w i t h t h e " t h r i l l o f t h e child." Ongoing  thrillwith  baby  Each of the couples expressed receiving a great deal of pleasure  from  t h e i r b a b y d u r i n g t h i s t r a n s i t i o np h a s e . N o t o n l y w e r e t h e c o u p l e s t h r i l l e d w i t h who  the baby was, but they expressed a curiosity about the ease of the  baby's  care. The parents did not outwardly take credit for the contentedness of their baby, but inwardly wondered  if the long wait and the celebrated arrivalof their  baby had an effect on the "good-naturedness"  of him or her. K and C  said,  " W e c o u l d n ' tr e l a t et ot h ec o m p l a i n i n gt h a tg o e so n a b o u ti n f a n t s . . . Id o n ' t know  if that's because  J has been exceptionally easy to care for, or if it's  b e c a u s e o u r a t t i t u d ei s d i f f e r e n tb e c a u s e w e h a d t o w a i t f o r s o l o n g a n d s h e such a gift." H and S found right from sunny  R very endearing;  "He  was  such a neat little  the start; has such a neat character and is very happy,  disposition."  P spoke  about  N in a similar way;  was  "He  has a  is a pretty  guy  very charming  f e l l o w . . . h e c o u l d b e a c t i n g u p o n e m i n u t e a n dj u s t t u r n a r o u n d a n d g i v e y o u that kind of look thatjust melts your heart... I'm really,really thrilled with him."  And  the thrillcontinued.  With humour,  H recalled; "It's absolutely  h i l a r i o u s , w h e n t h e y g e t t h e i r f i r s t t o o t h , y o u ' r ej u s t l i k e - O H W O W ! thrilling." K reflected back on receiving J; "It was great to start with, and it's gotten better and better and better."  I t '  79  Sense of growth in marital relationship Differences were experienced by the co-researchers in terms of their marital relationships.They no longer experienced the freedom and time to be together, or to do the same activitiesthey enjoyed before the arrivalof their baby.  As reflected in the words  The way K and C worked  of K, "things get a littlestressful" at times.  with infringement on their time, was to give  other time to be alone for a while; time away  each  from J, to take care of their  personal needs. Disagreements were also experienced with theirspouses, having to do with the care of theirchild. Each spouse brought with him/her different backgrounds  of child care, both behaviourally and philosophically.  V  recognized one differencein theirhome; "N would absolutelyscream and cry, and P thought that was OK,  babies do this, but, I just couldn't stand the  noise."  Differences were also experienced in these marriages in terms of division of labor. S illustrated this when  he said; "H says, 'well, you better get up.  always get up.' I said, you just told me I could go back to sleep. Now to get up.  I mean,  what is this?" Positive relationship impacts  I I've got  were  e x p e r i e n c e d i n t e r m s o f o b s e r v i n g e a c h p a r t n e r s ' r e l a t i o n s h i pw i t h t h e i r n e w child. In K's words, both of us were "deriving a lot of pleasure from e a c h o t h e r e n j o y i n g J . " M a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p sw e r e e x p e r i e n c e d a s b e i n g  seeing both  stretched, as well as enriched, because of the arrivalof their child. Receptivity to child's biological  heritage  Each of the co-researchers openly acknowledged  that theirchild had  been created from a different genetic pool than themselves and their spouses'.  80  The couples had no need to hide thisfact from the child or others. At times, the parents would hear comments child's resemblance people comment  from others, including strangersregarding the  or lack of resemblance  that N looks like P; "I feel really proud when  K stated, "It's nice to have people assume recalled a situationwhen, where  to the parents. V enjoyed  did he get that blond  "somebody hair?'  they say that."  she's our natural daughter."  looked at him once and said, I didn't say anything.  just laughed because they didn't know  hearing  what I  H 'hmm,  It was a stranger.  I  know."  C o u p l e s e x p e r i e n c e d a n o n g o i n g c u r i o s i t ya b o u t w h o t h e i r c h i l d u l t i m a t e l y b e , a n d w h a t k i n d o f t a l e n t sa n d g i f t sh e / s h e w i l l w o u l d "There's a bit of mystery" in observing the child grow  would  manifest.  up perhaps even more  so  than with a biological child, because of the different genetic heritage. Each the co-researchers  believed that environment  plays a large role in their child's  d e v e l o p i n g p e r s o n a l i t y ,a l t h o u g h t h e u n k n o w n  genes were received as well.  The parents accepted the "differences" inherent in adopting giving birth to a child. S stated, "We'll always he'llalways know  that,whenever  know  he wants to know  a child  versus  that he's adopted  and  that,so there will be  differences." At the same time, the co-researchers experienced acceptance of theiradopted child as theirown.  of  a  deep  A s r e f l e c t e di n t h e w o r d s o f  H,  "He's just our kid." Another facetof openness regarding the child'sbiologicalheritage, was experienced as having empathy  and respect for theirchild, should he/she  choose  i nt h e f u t u r e t o p u r s u e h i s / h e r b i r t h f a m i l y . V a n d P v o i c e d t h e i r r e N's privacy and integrity; "Nobody  isgoing to know  anything about him that he  81  doesn't."  V and P did not want  N to experience  a feeling of loss or lack  belonging, so "He will have the option of getting together with his birth again, so that might make theme,  H and S planned  things a littlebetter for him." to support R in whatever  of mother  Consistent with this  way  they could; "If he  wants  to see his birth parents, he can.  It's really up to him.  It'sjust a curiosity  they  have to satisfy. It can consume  their whole  lifeand I can understand  These couples expressed a willingness to put aside their own  fears  that." and  insecurities,to keep their child's best interestsat the forefront of the experience. some  adoptive  C recalled, "I was fearful of meeting her (the birth mother)  in  senses, but I was really glad to have done that because itsort of fills out  t h ew h o l ep i c t u r e , a n di tg i v e so u rJ s o m es o r to fb a c k g r o u n d . . . w e k n o w a littlebit about where  she comes  from."  The couples experienced a great deal  respect and admiration toward the birth mother for having made  of  the choice to  relinquishher child for adoption. They were aware of her "huge loss", and "sacrifice"and in some way wanted the birth mother to know child was "doing great". They  that her biological  were aware of the possibilityof a reunion, if  their child so chooses, and feltthey would be open to this. The described thinking about the birth mother, wondering  parents  about her feelings, on  d a y s l i k e t h e c h i l d ' s f i r s tb i r t h d a y . T h e y c o u l d i m a g i n e t h e p a i n t h a t t h e b i r t h m o t h e r , a n d i n s o m e c a s e s , f a t h e r ,a n d g r a n d p a r e n t s m a y f e e l a s t h e y m o u r n loss of the biological child. K put his feelings into these words; be the birth mother's child with as much come  a time; it'sa mystery  J to connect  with  her.  I hope  validityas she is ours. There  to me as to when, for a quality  "J will  when  always will  there will be the option  co-existence."  the  for  82 Sense of personal growth Each of the co-researchers in thisstudy realizedthey had changed grown  as a person, due to having experienced  transitionto parenthood.  Even  infertility,adoption, and  and the  though there was a lingering, and  sometimes,  a biological birthing experience,  especially  s e c r e t i v e d e s i r e t o s t i l lg o t h r o u g h  for the mothers, there was stilla deep acceptance happening, except in the case of V, who  of the unlikely reality of this  has subsequently given birth to a  daughter. The couples no longer experienced the all-consuming preoccupation with "having a baby"  that they once did. They  taken place. Metaphorically, theirwound  acknowledged  has grown  barely visible. The parents hardly remembered  that a healing  closed and the scar is  the sharp, stabbing, throbbing  pain. In K's words, "I feel fulfilled.Part of what itmeans to be human, complete, means now  has  to be  to be a parent. The hole in my lifewas obvious and painful;  it'sfilled. It's hard to remember  l i k e i t ' sh a r d t o r e m e m b e r  how  that pain.  bad itwas, now  study expressed an ability to put meaning  I know  itwas there, but it's  that we have J." Couples in the  and a sense of closure to their  previous years of pain. This closure was experienced as providing the to go forward in theirown  growth.  freedom  A s r e f l e c t e db y V , " I t w a s j u s t m e a n t t o b e ,  s o I c a n j u s t i f y i t i n m y m i n d . . . a l l t h i s l a s t p e r i o d o f t i m ei n m y 2 0 ' s , waiting." The couples described parenting as giving them a new for their own  parents. H said, "I understand my parents much  what they had to go through." priorities in life. In H's words,  appreciation more  now.  There was a feltshiftin the couples' values  I see and  "It gives you a better perspective of what life is  83  really about.  It makes  you a lot less selfish, that's for sure. You  tend not  to  worry about littlethings." The Narrative Description T h e t h e m e s o f t h e e x p e r i e n c e w e r e i n t e g r a t e da n d i n t e r w o v e n t o c r e a t e an account of the meaning of the experience of making the transitionto adoption following  infertility. The  is important  to remember  following  description follows a linear structure, but it  that a phenomenological  viewpoint  is holistic, thus  there will be an overlap in some of the themes. The themes do not stand in their own  stead, but interlaceand depend on each other to create a  whole  experience. The Description The adoptive For some,  experience  appears  to begin with a yearning  it is like a chronic preoccupation,  involving  a sense of urgency.  others, there is a dark bleakness hovering over their existence. experience  a loud ticking of their biological clock, reminding  years are running out to be able to conceive a child. Many almost anything to get pregnant.  Amidst  for a child. Some  them  For  couples that the  appear willing to try  the desperate yearning, they cling to a  relentless hope that there truly will be a child someday  that will join their  family. Both physical and emotional despair are experienced as a couple to achieve conception of a child. Some  attempt  go through medical tests and  interventions that are physically painful. Others experience embarrassment a lack of privacy that feels invasive. Anger  is directed inward at their  and own  84 bodies for being somehow  d e f i c i e n t ,a n d t h e y b e c o m e  ease of others' conceptions. conceive,  Some  resentfulat the apparent  attach self-blame to their inability to  while others consider ita matter of fate. Some  infertile individuals  experience constant reminders of theirchildlessnessas they go about their daily routine of living;everything from answering questions regarding their childlessness to attending baby showers.  All of thisis experienced as painful;  with pain increasing in intensity over time. Couples  feel like they are on  a  roller coaster, at times thinking they are pregnant, only to discover yet  another  month has gone by without conception. Infertilecouples pass through differentemotional stages. At times they are angry, at other times, they are surprised at the realityof infertility,and stillother times, they are very mournful.  These stages appear to come  at  at  d i f f e r e n t t i m e s , a n d w i t h d i f f e r e n tw a v e s o f i n t e n s i t y . E v e n t u a l l y , c o u p l e s to a place of acknowledging  and owning  come  the realityof their infertility. They  accept that they will likely never experience  the biological birthing of a child,  and grieve for their losses. C o u p l e s e x p e r i e n c e s t r a i n o n t h e i r m a r r i a g e r e l a t i o n s h i p ,a n d a r e a b l e t o recognize that each spouse is progressing through theirown own  grieving at their  rate. At times one partner is able to offer emotional support and  courage  to their spouse, and at other times, this is reciprocated. This alternating support serves to strengthen the bond between the couple. Partners  mutual  appear  conscious of not blaming theirspouse for the infertility,whether or not the infertilityis diagnosed.  Some  experience a much  their spouse due to having shared significant pain.  deeper level of intimacy  with  85  Sensitivityto the comments thistime. These comments  and messages of others is heightened  during  carry great weight and appear to have significant  impact on the couples. For those who blame themselves for theirinfertility, there is an even greater sting feltfrom the insensitivecomments  of others.  Holidays likeMother's and Father's Day bring hurtfulreminders of their desire for a child. The infertileindividuals believe that unless someone through this or a similar experience, they cannot know Finely tuned 'radar'picks up comments others is very  has  been  the depth of their pain.  of support. To feelthissupport  from  encouraging.  After varying lengths of time, the infertilecouple feel they need to get off the emotional rollercoaster. They are exhausted from all the hoping trying and wishing  for a child. They  make  a conscious  and  choice to give in to fate  and get on with life. For some this means concentrating on an education or a job. For others, this means opportunity for travel,or achieving other personal goals.  Although  this is a grieving  time,  it is also a time for some  relaxation  after the rigors of the infertilityinvestigation. The infertilecouple appear assimilate into their philosophical framework give what is expected and hoped for. They There  is a flowing Having  the notion that lifedoes not  always  try not to be bitterabout thisreality.  with life, rather than a fighting against  it.  resigned themselves to the realitythat their biological child is not  in their destiny, the couple make  the decision to adopt a child. They  decide  they want to parent, more than they want to remain childless. For some decision comes  to  that  this  easily,and early on in the process. For others, the decision is  fraught with more wariness, and takes a longer times to make.  Stillothers  are  86  not completely able to accept the idea of adoption untilthe phone call that makes  a baby  a  comes  reality.  At the point of deciding of adopt, the couple enter another phase of loss of control and privacy.  They  feel their lifeis being put under a microscope  examination, in being judged as either suitableor unsuitable for There is a sense of injustice at the invasion into their home see if they qualify for a child. As they are examined realize that another person will be making  parenthood.  and personhood  and questioned,  to  they  a life-changing decision on the basis  of how they presentthemselves. They become can begin to doubt theirown  for  f e a r f u lo f n o t b e i n g c h o s e n  a b i l i t yt o p a r e n t .  Following the scrutiny,the couple endure another long wait, with definite time frame.  Again  and  no  they attempt to carry on with lifein as normal  way as possible, while awaiting the news of a child. Some  make  preparations for a baby; the nursery, and clothing, while most  a  the physical protect  themselves from possible disappointment by not making any preparation at all. One  day, a phone  call comes  available to be adopted by them.  that informs the couple of a baby that is There is a sense of exceedingly great joy,  well as an all too familiar feeling of caution. They ask themselves: that we are finallyreceiving our child? Time  comes  can it be  to a grinding halt, but  seems to speed up as well. There is a sense of something good to be true. The couple hardly know  happening  that is too  what to do first:there are phone calls  to be made, employers to inform, shopping to be done, and formula to be For some, a name baby.  needs to be chosen.  as  made.  Others must travel miles to pick up their  All these events take place in the lightof the fact that the birth  mother  87  might stillchange her mind.  The impact of thisknowledge  haunts the couple as  t h e y a n t i c i p a t et h e i r d r e a m c o m i n g t r u e . A l l t h e y e a r s o f w a i t i n g m a y  soon  be  over. There is something almost sacred about the couples' finalmoments waiting to receive their child. It is perceived as an experience of time stillto usher this child into itsparents' arms. there is a lack of words compassion  There baby;  For some  and gratitude for the present birth mother.  there is intense  is a euphoria  For others there is  had a part in delivering this baby to them.  that is experienced  a relief that is unequalled.  For some  following  For all,  F o r o t h e r s , t h e r e l i e fc o m e s  there is a keen awareness  the delivery of  the reliefcomes the moment  are signed for the relinquishment by the birth mother. happens,  there are tears of  emotion.  baby is in theirarms. euphoria  standing  As the couple receives the child,  to describe the experience.  gratitude toward whoever  while  the instant the the final papers  Regardless of when  waiting, applying, scrutiny,and more waiting, are over. The phase  the  that a long and painful process  o v e r ; c o m p l e t e l y o v e r . T h e y e a r s o f t r y i n g a n d w a i t i n g , t e s t i n ga n d child has arrived. A new  the  is  more  long-awaited  begins.  The adoptive couple rush to share theirgood news with others. welcome  t h e i n f l u x o f c a l l s a n d v i s i t s ,a s o t h e r s j o i n i n t h e c e l e b r a t i o n .  Although  they experience exhaustion, there is a sense of being buoyed  They up by  the  exhilarationof the experience. They are amazed and humbled by the generosity of friends and family. For some, a party is held the day of the baby's arrival. For others,random  a n d u n s c h e d u l e d c e l e b r a t i o n sc o n t i n u e f o r w e e k s .  88  A s t h e c o u p l e s e t t l ei n t o t h e i d e a a n d t h e t a s k s o f b e i n g p a r e n t s , t h e y have time to reflecton the less visible detailsthat have led up to receiving their child. They become  aware at an intuitive,or spirituallevel, that there has  been  a greater force at work  in uniting their child to their family.  For some,  this  force is viewed  for others, it is fate, or providence.  There  feeling  as God;  of thischild having been destined to enter theirhome. that allthe years of waiting were somehow  The couple  acknowledge  meant to be, because the child they  had been waiting for has arrived and itis right. Although be religious, there is a humble  is a  they may  not claim  gratitude to a greater force for this precious  The couple experience an overwhelming  gift.  sense of responsibilityto parent  theirchild adequately. They striveto be perfect parents. They are conscious all the needs of this small infant, and desire to meet them all;the physical as well as the emotional needs. Everything is very new and there has  been  little, it any preparation.  and  For some,  to  there is a feeling of helplessness  of  needs  nervousness, as they rely on more experienced parents to give direction and advice. For others, there is an instinctiveflow and rhythm baby.  to caring for their  The couple desire to be seen by others as being competent and suitable  parents; worthy of bringing up their child. The couple receivecomments  and non-verbal messages from others that  could be experienced as hurtful,however, they largely dismiss them  as  benevolent insensitivity. The stingthatonce came with insensitive comments, during their infertility,no longer hurts, because the couple has their desired child. For some, there is disappointment at the lack of excited integration of the baby into the family. Some  couples recognize that there are nonrelated  89  reasons for thisapparent lack of enthusiasm on the part of significant others, and in a nondefensive way, excuse these responses. Comments  are made  that  appear to be coming from an uneducated stance,which the couple choose respond  to without hostility. There  these comments  to  is a serenity with the child's arrival, so  d o n o t s t i ru p t h e a n g e r p r e v i o u s l y f e l td u r i n g t h e i ri n f e r t i l i t y .  The couple are no longer victims of fate. They feeltheirliveshave  been  blessed. Amidst the joys of parenthood, the couple also experience the joltof an abrupt lifestylechange.  There are some sleeplessnights, and some tension is  experienced around having to find a babysitter to be able to go out. The is so abrupt, that at times the couple can actually forget that they are parents. There is an overnight shiftin employment choice to stay at home  with the baby.  change now  as one partner makes  the  These changes, however, are far  overshadowed  by the joy of having a child. The couple accept and  these changes  with a psychological  welcome  readiness, having waiting for so long  for  their child. As time passes, the couple experience an ongoing thrillwith their baby. They are pleasantly surprised at the contentedness of theirbaby.  The couple is  careful not to take credit for the baby's natural, genetic disposition, but wonder  does  if having waited and yearned so long for a baby, has an influence on  g o o d - n a t u r e d n e s s o f t h e i rb a b y . T h e y w o n d e r :  does theirbaby in any  the  way  s e n s e h o w l o v e d a n d w a n t e d h e / s h e i s ? T h e c o u p l e a p p r e c i a t et h e c h a r m  and  e n d e a r i n g q u a l i t i e so f t h e i r b a b y , a n d l o o k f o r w a r d t o e a c h d e v e l o p m e n t a l  step  with great anticipation. Although  some socialand recreationalactivitiesare  90  c u r t a i l e dw i t h t h e b a b y ' s a r r i v a l ,t h e c o u p l e e n j o y i n c l u d i n g t h e b a b y i n m a n y  of  their previous activities. The couples also feel the impact of the baby on their marital relationship. There is a new  dimension  that changes  is no longer a dyad, but a triad. For some couple face many  the tone of their family.  there is an added  strain, as  the  d i f f e r e n c e so f o p i n i o n o n h o w t o c a r e f o r t h e b a b y .  Philosophies of childraising are brought into a marriage, and these challenged when  are  they differfrom the beliefof theirspouse. For some, there is  a strengthening of the marital bond as one spouse observes the joy  and  fulfillmenttheirbaby brings to the other spouse. The couple experience pragmatism This empathy  of negotiating time to spellone another off for emotional  the  renewal.  toward the partner nurtures their marital relationship.  The couple acknowledge and accepts this unknown  that the child has a different genetic  heritage. For some  there is a warm  that the baby resembles oneself or one's spouse. and unity seem to arisefrom the knowledge others, there is a comfortability  make-up,  feeling in  A feeling of family  hearing belonging  of physical resemblance.  For  with the fact that the baby differs from  adoptive parents. While the couple may  the  feel that genes are significant in  determining the personality of their child, they believe the  environmental  influences are also very significant.The couple begin to see aspects of their own  It  personalitiesshowing up in theirchild. There is also an ongoing curiosityabout who  The couple empathize with the fact that the child may  theirchild will laterwant to  become. pursue  his/her biological heritage, and want to be of assistance to the child in this  91 endeavor.  For some, there has already been contact with the birth mother,  either in person, and/or by mail. There is an open receptivityto again at some  laterdate in the future, if the child so chooses.  connecting  Some  strongly  hope that the child will indeed choose to have a relationship with his/her birth m o t h e r , a n d p e r h a p s o t h e r b i o l o g i c a lf a m i l y m e m b e r s .  The couple appear to  have a deep respect and admiration for the birth mother, and to acknowledge relinquishment  of her child as a sacrificialgesture of love.  The adoptive parents know, have become  at a deep level within themselves, that they  betterpeople because of theirexperience of infertility,adoption,  and parenthood.  They  feel the healing of a very deep wound.  of fulfillment and completeness reality. For some  There  is a  in having their wish for a child become  there is a renewed  appreciation for and connection  there is a lingering, secretive desire to stillexperience process, along with a more kind.  the biological  with their  made  the transition to adoptive parenthood  greater faith in the process of life itself;a humble  birthing  are in pain of  some  the couple attain a  awareness  may not experience lifethe way they had planned, there is an  that although  they  underlying  p r o v i d e n t i a lg r a c e t h a t g a v e t h e m e v e n m o r e t h a n t h e y h a d w i s h e d a n d for.  some,  settled resignation that this most likely will not  The adoptive parent is empathetic to others who Having  sense a  parents. For some, there is a realignment of values and priorities. For  happen.  the  hoped  92  The EssentialStructure The essential structure is a condensed  version of the  narrative  description. It is comprised  of the essentialelements of the narrative  which  serve to create a framework  that illustratesthe core of the experience.  The  purpose of the essentialstructure is to present the meaning  of the experience  concisely as possible. Also, the essential structure illuminates the  as  synchronicity  of the narrativedescription. For example, where there was once yearning in the adoptive couple, there is now fulfillment.Where t h e r e i s n o w r e l i e fa n d e u p h o r i a . W h e r e toward  fate, there is now  as it unfolds.  there was trauma and despair,  there was resentment and hostility  serentity and a deeper acceptance of the process of life  It is as if a full circle has been sojourned  by the adoptive  parents.  The Structure T h e a d o p t i v e e x p e r i e n c e b e g i n s w i t h t h e i n f e r t i l ec o u p l e y e a r n i n g f o r a child. The couple experience an urgency and a preoccupation with the desire to conceive a child. They conception.  Amidst  will try almost any intervention or remedy  to  achieve  the bleak reality,the couple cling to the hope that there  will eventually be a child in their  home.  As they progress through the testsand treatments, the infertile couple experience physical and emotional trauma.  At times, there is anger directed  inwardly, as well as outwardly, as the couple pursue conception of a  baby.  There is intense pain as the couple ride the rollercoaster of cyclical hope  and  despair. There is a downward  spiral of grieving as the couple experience  feelings  of denial, shock, sadness, and depression. The couple tend to question fate,  93  oneself, and/or a Higher Power  regarding the injusticeat the apparent ease  others' conceptions. Eventually the couple come  of  to accept the reality of  infertility. The couple experience an increased strainon their marriage.  There is a  conscious choice not to blame one's spouse, but rather to support each other. Through  thisgiving and receivingof support, the couple bonds more  deeply  with one another. The couple's interpersonal sensitivityis increased. Both positive and negative comments  are received from significantothers and have a great  on the couple, bringing feelingsof encouragement The couple become  or resentment.  exhausted of the struggleagainst fate,and choose  include events and experiences that return an element of normalcy and take the focus off theirdesire to get pregnant. set their sights on  impact  to their lives  During this time, the  couple  adoption.  T h e c o u p l e e n t e r a n o t h e r t i m e l e s s w a i t , a s t h e y a r e s c r u t i n i z e db y who  has the power  child. Once  to  to make  one  a life-changing decision regarding their hope for a  again there is a loss of control and privacy, leaving the couple  with  feelingsof invasion and helplessness. One  day a phone  great sense of excitement  call comes,  a child.  as well as a familiar caution, as the final  takes place. It is a profound, the parents'  offering the couple  almost sacred moment  when  There  is a  preparation  the baby is placed  in  arms.  Immediately,  there is a rush of euphoria and gratitude. The  long wait for a child is over.  parents'  The baby is accepted as a precious gift, whom  the  94  parents want to share and celebrate with others. Exhaustion and exhilaration take over the feelingsof despair and hopelessness. The parents  acknowledge  that an overriding process of fate,or providence was at work to bring them this child. The couple have a keen desire to adequately parent their child and aware of theirlack of preparation. They welcome parents also receive comments has brought  a new-found  are  a s s i s t a n c ef r o m o t h e r s .  The  thatcould be experienced as hurtful,but the  baby  serenity that serves to ward off previously felt hostility  and resentment at others' apparent insensitivity. The couple experience the joltof abrupt lifestylechanges,  including  career, friendships, leisure and recreation, and sleep habits. Although changes  the  are difficult,the parents experience a joy that assists them through  necessary adjustments. There is an ongoing thrillwith the baby's  the  development.  The parents enjoy the endearing qualitiesof the baby, and focus on the positive aspects of care, rather than the negative. The couple's marital relationship is changed child. New  by the added dimension  of a  strainsand challenges enter the marriage, as well as joys and  levelsof empathy  new  toward one's spouse.  The parents accept the unique differenceof the child's biological heritage and plan to allow the child to pursue his/her birth family if they  so  choose. The couple have deep respect for the birth mother and consider her relinquishment  of the child a sacrifice of  love.  The couple realize that they are different as a result of the  adoption  e x p e r i e n c e . T h e y h a v e c o m e t h e f u l lc i r c l eo f k n o w i n g p a i n , a n d k n o w i n g  the  95  healing of that pain.  There  is a sense of fulfillment; a completion  of a  dream  that began years ago. Although they have not recovered the loss of theirability to reproduce, the couple has recovered the loss of parenthood. have been touched realignment  by a spiritual dimension  of their values, a deeper empathy  The  of life that has brought  parents about  for others, and a humble  to the mysterious force that lovingly shapes their destinies.  a gratitude  96 C  H  A  P  T  E  RF  I  V  E-D  I  S  C  U  S  S  The present chapter will include a restatement of the purpose of the study, the limitations of the study, and a summary It will conclude  and discussion of the results.  with a discussion of practical implications and an overview  of  research implications. Restatement of the  Purpose  The purpose of this study was to render a "faithfuldescription" & C l a s p e l l , 1 9 8 7 ) o f t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d a d o p t i o n , f o l l o w i n g i n f e r t i l i t y , f r o m t h e s t o r i e so f t h o s e w h o  (Cochran  through  had "lived out" the  experience. The question of thisstudy focused on "what", rather than what was the meaning of the adoptive experience? Meaning but rarely investigated (Cochran  "why":  is often implied,  & C l a s p e l l , 1 9 8 7 ) . I n a n a t t e m p t t o f i l lt h i s g a p  in the literature,the researcher hoped to illuminate the meaning  of the  experience of entering parenthood through adoption, afterinfertility,by way six co-researchers' dramaturgical  of  descriptions.  Limitations of the Study Since this study was based on the co-researchers' selfreport, it was limited to what these individualswere capable of remembering a n d w a s a f f e c t e db y f a c t o r ss u c h a s c u l t u r ea n d m e m o r y , selectivityin reporting. However, emphasizing what was common  and reporting,  which influence  thisdifficultywas mitigated somewhat  to six people rather than to just one person.  The concern about the accuracy of a particulartheme lessened when  it was  r e p o r t e d o v e r a n d o v e r b y o t h e r c o - r e s e a r c h e r s . T h e d e t a i l so f t h e t h r e e  by  I  O  N  97  couples' infertilityand adoptions varied, however, itwas the meaning experience that was investigated,rather than the events  of the  themselves.  A second limitation was that of lack of generalizability. With only c o - r e s e a r c h e r s ,n o c l a i m o f g e n e r a l i t yc a n b e m a d e .  six  The findingsof this study  were valid only for the ones who reported theirexperiences. However, the viewpoint of existential-phenomenology,  from  the portraitrevealed in the results  is regarded as ongoing; as the provisional beginning for further  dialogue  (Colaizzi, 1978). Generalizabilityis not achieved by one study, but  by  c o n t i n u o u s i n v e s t i g a t i o n ,a s o t h e r r e s e a r c h e r s c h e c k , e x p a n d , r e p l i c a t e , a n d challenge the themes to more faithfullydescribe the meaning of the experience. Summary  and Discussionof Results  T h i s s t u d y y i e l d e d 2 0 t h e m e s c o m m o n t ot h r e ec o u p l e s o ft h e i r e x p e r i e n c e o f t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d t h r o u g h a d o p t i o n f o l l o w i n gi n f e r t i l i t y . These  themes  using a dramatic form to create a common  story  of the experience for the co-researchers. This narrative description was  further  condensed  were interwoven  to the essentialstructurewhich presented the meaning  of the  e x p e r i e n c e a s c o n c i s e l y a n d f a i t h f u l l ya s p o s s i b l e . Since a dramaturgical approach protocols,  the co-researchers'  was used to collect and analyze  descriptions  had a "before"  (beginning),  "during" (middle), and an "after"(end). There was movement  the a  through the  story. "The middle shows how the beginning was transformed intoan  ending  . . . W h a t h a p p e n s a t t i m e t w o ( m i d d l e ) e x p l a i n s t h e c h a n g e o f X f r o mt i m e o n e (rjeginning)to time three (end)" (Cochran and Claspell, 1987, p. 49-50).  In  98  this study, the co-researchers' experience  stories naturally fell into a "before",  the  of infertility,a "during", the adoption experience, and an "after",  the transition to  parenthood.  While analyzing the co-researchers' protocols, itbecame researcher that there seemed to be somewhat  apparent to the  o f a n e x p e r i e n t i a lp a r a l l e l b e t w e e n  the couples' adoptive journey and that of a biological gestation, labor delivery, and post partum. in some  and  T h e f i r s tp a r t o f t h e s t o r y , t h e i n f e r t i l i t y e x p e r i e n c e ,  ways could be considered to be like the gestation period of a biological  birth. There was the desire to have a child, the attempt to conceive one, then a very, very long wait.  A biological wait is nine months;  in this study,  couples waited from four to nine years to receive theirbaby, while testsand treatments, paralleling a complicated during  a pregnancy,  preparing for a new  there can be a focusing role (Brennan  and  undergoing  and precarious pregnancy. inward  Also,  and a preoccupation  & Rattner Heiglman,  1971;  the  with  Hebblethwaite,  1984; Reeder, Mastrotanni, Martin & Fitzpatrick, 1976). Similarly, during experience of infertility,couples in this study often isolated themselves,  the  turning  inwardly, and became preoccupied with thoughts and dreams about who their baby would be, and when he or she would come to them. The adoptive experience of the couples in thisstudy reminded  the  researcher of certain aspects of biologicallabor and delivery. Often there can be a sense of loss of personal control for a delivering couple, as the nurses and doctors "take over" (Arms, 1975; Harrison, 1982; 1981; Petty, 1979).  hospital  Mendelsohn,  For the adoptive couples in this study, there was a sense  l o s s o f c o n t r o l a s t h e p o l i t i c a lp r o c e s s " t o o k o v e r " .  In the biological process  of  99 there can be a sense of excitement and imminence breaks, knowing  the woman's  water  thatthe delivery is not more than 24 hours away (Brennan  &  1971; Reeder et al., 1976). This can be likened to the  phone  Rattner Heiglman,  call that the adoptive couples received informing baby.  when  them of the availabilityof a  This precipitated a flurry of activity as the couples in this study  for the arrival of their baby, similar, perhaps to the packing  prepared  of a suitcase (if not  previously done) and travellingto the hospital. The finalwait for the baby may  be akin to the "transition"phase in the biological process. It is  during thisphase that the senses of the woman  may  be heightened, along with  singular focus and a rush of adrenaline to finish the process (Brennan Heiglman,  adoptive  1971; Reeder  et al., 1976).  &  a  Rattner  In the biological delivery there is a  great  deal of physical pain, and in some cases, there may be emotional pain. In the adoptive delivery, there has been a great deal of emotional pain, and in cases physical pain for the couples in this study. Neither delivery is significant pain. a new  In both deliveries there appears to be a suspension  life is ushered  into a family.  b e e u p h o r i c r e l i e fa n d g r a t i t u d e w h e n  some  without in time, as  As well, in both deliveries there appears allgoes well, and often the pain,  whether  p r i m a r i l y p h y s i c a l o r e m o t i o n a l , s e e m s t o d i s s i p a t ea l m o s t i m m e d i a t e l y 1975; Petty, 1979; Reeder, 1976). One  to  (Arms,  might speculate that in both cases, the  parents feel they have been graced or blessed with a wonderful  gift.  The transitionto adoptive parenting may be similar to the biological post partum period when  the parents and child are gettingacquainted with  each  other. Although the biologicalbirth parents have had the expected nine to prepare, there often is an abrupt hormonal  change in the biological  months mother,  s o m e t i m e s c a u s i n g e m o t i o n a l u p s a n d d o w n s , a n d p e r h a p s f e e l i n g so f i n s e c u r i t y as a new  mother (Brennan & Rattner Heiglman,  1971; Hebblethwaite,  Reeder et al., 1976). The adoptive parents in this study usually did experience hormonal  1984; not  changes, but definitelydid experience an abrupt jolt in  their lifestylesas they entered their new roles as parents. The literature has born out the evidence  that regardless of how  biologically, or through  adoption,  a baby enters a family,  whether  there is a significant transition that  takes  place at thistime (Belsky & Rovine, 1984; Brodzinsky, 1990; Brodzinsky Huffman,  1988; Lamb,  &  1978; Levy-Shiff et al.,1990). It may be more  rocky  for some than for others,and itmay be more rewarding for some than for others (Russell, 1974), but from the literature,and from the resultsof this study, it appears  that receiving  a child biologically  or adoptively,  is a  mixed  blessing. It was interesting to note that all of the couples in this study, their transitionto parenthood realityof having to make  described  in positive terms. While they mentioned  changes in theirlifestyles,the focus  the  remained  primarily on the positive aspects of parenting. The resultsare similar to the findingsof Cook, (1988) Edwards, (1987) and Levy-Shiff et al. (1991)  who  conducted comparative studiesbetween adoptive and biologicalparents and found that the adoptive parents reported theirexperience of adoption primarily positive terms. The reasons for this can only be surmised. possible that the couples' long and painful waits for theirchildren made transition to parenthood parenthood.  Given  in It is their  less tedious and difficult than a biological transition to  the older age of the adoptive couple, as well as a  longer  101 marital relationship, it is possible that adoptive  parents have acquired  a  maturity  a n d r e s o u r c e f u l n e s s t h a t m a y h a v e e n h a n c e d t h e i r c o p i n g s k i l l s( L e v y - S h i f f e t al., 1991), thus reporting their experience  in positive terms.  It is also  possible  that after the couples' long wait, they may  not have feltthe social sanction to  "complain" about the trialsand difficultiesof new parenting. This is surmised in Bernstein's (1990) study as well. More  research is needed to investigate  these possibilities. This study remained consistentwith the large body of literature which c l a i m s t h a t i n f e r t i l i t yh a s a s i g n i f i c a n t e f f e c t o n t h o s e w h o  experience  it  (Blenner, 1990; Bresnick, 1981; Clapp, 1985; Daniluk, 1988; Frank,  1980;  Griffin, 1983; Kraft etal., 1980; Leader etal., 1984; Mazor,  Menning,  1980; Seibel & Taymor,  1979;  1982). The co-researchers in this study all described  t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f i n f e r t i l i t y a s b e i n g e m o t i o n a l l y s t r e s s f u la n d a t t i m e s psychologically painful. None with clinicaldepression, however  of the individualsin thisstudy were  diagnosed  allreported experiencing sadness, anger,  despair and grief. These resultsare consistent with the findings of  Andrews  (1970), Frank (1989), Valentine (1986), and Woollett (1985), to mention Menning's  (1979;  a  few.  1 9 8 0 ; 1 9 8 2 ) w r i t i n g s d e s c r i b e d i n f e r t i l i t ya s a " c r i s i s " .  The findings in thisstudy concurred with those of Menning,  with the co-  researchers of this study having indicated that their lives were chaotic  and  disrupted for a time period while they sought to resolve theirinfertility. Menning  a l s o w r o t e t h a t t h i s " c r i s i s "l e n d s i t s e l ft o p e r s o n a l c h a n g e a n d  growth.  This is also consistent with the findings in this study. Each of the coresearchers indicated that they had experienced  personal growth  as a result of  102 having gone through the infertility"crisis"and come  to some  workable  resolution. T h e r e s u l t so f t h i s s t u d y w e r e c o n s i s t e n tw i t h t h o s e o f D a n i l u k  (1988),  w h o f o u n d t h a t a l t h o u g h s i g n i f i c a n td i s t r e s sw a s e x p e r i e n c e d b y c o u p l e s d u r i n g the initialmedical interview and at the time of diagnosis, the quality of their marital relationships did not appear to deteriorate as a result of the  medical  investigation. Similarly, the couples in this study indicated that there  marriages  were, in fact, strengthened due to the trauma of theinfertility. The resultsof this study were also consistent with the findings in one the only phenomenological  investigationsin thisarea of research  (Sandelowski  & P o l l o c k , 1 9 8 6 ) . S a n d e l o w s k i a n d P o l l o c k i d e n t i f i e dt h r e e m a j o r t h e m e s women's  of in  experiences of infertility. Although thispresent study included  and women,  t h e t h e m e s o f a m b i g u i t y , o t h e r n e s s ,a n d t e m p o r a l i t y w e r e  identified,albeitnot in the same words. synonymous  men  The co-researchers of thisstudy  used  words and phrases such as, "lossof control", "helplessness",  "isolation","biological clock", and "running out of time" to describe their e x p e r i e n c e o fi n f e r t i l i t y . The findings of thisstudy concurred with those of Sandelowski (1989).  Sandelowski  phenomenological  et al. constructed a theory of "mazing"  et al.  based on  the  s t u d y o f i n f e r t i l ec o u p l e s ' t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d ,  infertile couples were  found to go through  a process of calculating a  whereby pursuit,  following that pursuit, and eventually refraining their desire for a child. co-researchers  in this study described a similar process, using phrases such  "we decided to try every possibleroute", "we went the whole nine yards",  The as "we  103  r e f u s e dt og i v e u p " , " w e d e c i d e d t o t a k e a b r e a k " , a n d " w e g a v e u p t h e struggle and let fate take over" to describe their "mazing"  process.  In terms of the actual adoption process, the co-researchers in this study indicated that they felta sense of loss of control, isolation, and lack  of  preparation during the adoptive process. Once they had made the decision to adopt and applied for adoption, they feltthat the rest of the process was out theirhands as they underwent  of  further examination and endured the wait. This is  congruent with the findings in Daly's (1989) study, which suggested that adoptive couples major needs are empowerment,  education and social support.  Consistent with the findings of other researchers (Hochstetler, 1986; 1985), the couples in this study experienced  disempowerment  education and support relativeto the adoption The  Ross,  and a lack  of  process.  couples in thisstudy also spoke about the experience of receiving  messages from others which indicated that myths about adoption still abound. The myths generally tended to cast a negative lighton the success of  bringing  up an adopted child and the lack of adjustment adopted children manifest as they g r o w u p . T h e s e f i n d i n g s a r e c o n s i s t e n tw i t h t h o s e o f P i e r c e ( 1 9 8 4 ) , study also indicated that there is significant folklore surrounding suggesting that adoption is "second best" and that those who somehow  whose  adoption,  are adopted  are  "second rate". One prevalent issue in the literaturewhich was not reported in the  e x p e r i e n c e s o f t h e c o - r e s e a r c h e r s i n t h i s s t u d y i s t h es u g g e s t i o n t h a t a b a b y i s not the cure for infertility(Burns, 1990; Lifton,, 1988; Melina, 1989;  Renne,  1 9 7 7 ; V a l e n t i n e , 1 9 8 6 ; W i l l i a m s , 1 9 7 9 ) . O n eo ft h ec o u p l e  104  biological child afterthey adopted, and have experienced both routes to  having  children. The other two couples indicated that they were completely satisfied w i t h h a v i n g c h i l d r e n b y a d o p t i o n a n d n o l o n g e r f e l tt h e d r i v i n g n e e d t o children biologically. However, stillbe nice to get pregnant".  the women,  have  H and C admitted that "it  In this study, the loss of the abilityto  would  procreate  did not seem as significantto the couples as the loss of ever having children. It is possible that the couples in this study had already grieved the loss of their p r o c r e a t i v e a b i l i t y ,o r p e r h a p s m o r e g r i e v i n g i s y e t t o c o m e  as the couples  progress through the various stages of parenthood.  It is also possible that the  couples in this study were stillin the "honeymoon  phase" of parenthood  Shiff etal.,  (Levy-  1991).  One unique finding in thisstudy was the adoptive parents' experience  of  profound joy and gratitudeat the reception of theirbaby, and the great sense of celebration at his/her arrival. Perhaps ChapterTwo),  this is due to the fact that (as noted  to date there have been no phenomenological  in  studiesinvestigating  the meaning of the experience of adoption, as noted in Chapter Two.  This  experience could only be reported by the adoptive parents themselves. Also reported in the literaturewere the feelingsof respect and empathy  not  experienced  by the adoptive parents toward the birth mother for her sacrificiallove  toward  her baby, in choosing to relinquish him/her. T h e f i n d i n g s i n t h i s s t u d y r e g a r d i n g t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d inconsistent with much (Dyer, 1963; Hobbs,  were  of the literaturedescribing this transition as a "crisis" 1965, 1968; Jaffe & Viertel, 1979; LeMasters,  1957;  Miller & Sollie, 1980). As mentioned previously, the couples in this study did  105  not describe their experience of the transitionto adoptive parenthood t e r m s . G i v e n t h e " c r i s i s " o f i n f e r t i l i t y a n d t h e d i f f i c u l t yo f t h e  in negative  adoption  process, itis possible that the experience of reliefand gratitude weighed  more  heavily for the adoptive couples in this study, than did the experience of  trauma  and "crisis"upon entry to parenthood. At the time of the interview, the co-researchers had experienced adoptive parenthood, so they were not able to comment  only  on the differences, if  a n y , b e t w e e n t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o a d o p t i v e v e r s u s b i o l o g i c a l p a r e n t h o o d . some  Whereas  l i t e r a t u r es u b s t a n t i a t e d t h e i d e a t h a t t h e r e a r e d i f f e r e n c e s , a n d t h a t t h e  t r a n s i t i o n i s m o r e d i f f i c u l tf o r a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s ( B e r n s t e i n , 1 9 9 0 ; B l u m , Brodzinsky, 1987; Daly, 1987; Kirk, 1981, 1984, 1988; Walker, Zimmerman, parenthood  for adoptive parents was a more positive one than for their  the parents in thisstudy commented but experienced  a psychological  1987; Levy-Shiff et al.,, 1991).  on was theirsurprise at the relative  ease of the transition.They did acknowledge occurred,  1981;  1977), other researchers found that the experience of transition to  biological counterparts (Cook, 1988; Edwards, What  1983;  the abrupt lifestylechanges  readiness,  albeit not a  that  physical  preparedness, for these pragmatic changes. Once again, the adoptive couples o l d e r a g e s , l o n g e r m a r i t a l s t a t u s ,p r i o r l o n g w a i t a n d e m o t i o n a l t r a u m a , desire to be perfect parents to repay fate for the giftof their child, may factors in their reported ease of the transitionto  all be  parenthood.  All of the co-researchers in the study acknowledged is different than having  and  that adopting a  a biological child in terms of the child having  a  baby  genetic  heritage different from those of the adoptive parents, and facing the need to tell  106 the child about his/her adoption, as well as to dispel societalmyths  surrounding  adoption. None  of the men and women  in the study attempted to hide the fact that  theirbaby was adopted. Neither were they intending to hide this fact from their child or others.  Particularly H and S acknowledged  their perception  that  there  will be differences throughout their lifetime and the lifetime of their child, than if theirchild had been born to them. and accommodating  The couples appeared to be adapting well  to these differences. This concurred with the literaturethat  stated that itis very important for an adoptive family to openly and acknowledge Watson,  comfortably  t h e d i f f e r e n c e s ,w i t h o u t d w e l l i n g o n t h e m ( B o u r g u i g n o n  1987; Johnston, 1984; Kirk, 1981, 1984, 1988; Williams,  & 1979).  Each of the co-researchers spoke about theirexperience of being receptive to their child's differentbiological heritage. Although  only one of the  c o u p l e s ( K a n d C ) h a d m e t t h e i rb a b y ' s b i r t h m o t h e r , e a c h o f t h e o t h e r s h o p e d for some kind of connection with theirbaby's birth family, but said they  would  leave this up to the child as he/she grew up. This is an indication of the parents "accepting the differences" rather then "rejecting the differences" (Kirk, 1984, 1988).  The co-researchers also expressed a desire for continuity for their  child and the birth mother, for whom  they had great empathy.  Perhaps  adoptive parents could best relate to the loss of the birth mother, given extent of theirown In summary, personal change  1981, the the  loss. t h e r e s u l t so f t h e s t u d y a l s o s u g g e s t e d a n e l e m e n t  and growth  for the co-researchers as a result of their  of experience  of infertility,adoption and adoptive parenthood. Although thistheme was  not  107 reported in the empirical literature,itwas substantiated in some  of the  anecdotal  l i t e r a t u r e( J o h n s t o n , 1 9 8 4 ; S a l z e r , 1 9 8 6 ) . E a c h o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l s i n t h i s s t u d y r e p o r t e d s o m e m e a s u r e o f h e a l i n g o f t h e i r p r e v i o u s p a i n w h i c h i n t u r nf a c i l i t a t e d personal growth.  Embracing  their pain and grieving it,as the couples in this  study reportedly did, brought them to a new level of awareness of  themselves  and of others in pain. It also reportedly strengthened their relationships with each other. They feltthese experiences sharpened theirprioritiesand  reminded  them of what is important in life. One of the co-researchers (V) mentioned  that  she would not have traded the experience for anything. The co-researchers felt they developed  a s t r o n g e r t r u s t i n t h e p r o c e s s o f l i f e i t s e l fa n d b e c a m e  open to the changes that lifebrings. Although  more  they used different words,  experience of the couples in thisstudy reflectthe words of Scarf  the  (1980):  As the wheel of the decade turns, so do a person's needs, desires, and tasks, Each compromises,  of us does, in effect, strike a series of "deals",  b e t w e e n t h e w a n t s a n d n e e d s o f t h e i n n e r s e l f ,a n d  outer environment  It appeared  are always  being and the stabilityof outside  in a process of change,  (p. 8)  that although the couples in this study experienced  trauma during the course of their quest for a child, they weathered with integrityand courage and not only realizedtheirdream found rich meaning spiritual growth  an  t h a t o f f e r s c e r t a i n p o s s i b i l i t i e sa n d s e t s c e r t a i n  limitations. But both the inner human circumstances  or  in theirexperience, but acknowledged  as a result of their  process.  the  significant storm  for parenthood, profound,  personal  and  108  Counselling Implications It is now  apparent that couples entering adoptive parenthood  infertilityhave specific needs for information, education, empowerment,  personal  and support. The counsellorpotentiallyhas an  and primary role in creating and sustaining a more  following  advantageous  supportive environment  for  the inclusion and acceptance of the adoptive parental experience into the field of counselling. It follows that the counsellor should be as knowledgeable  as  possible about the subject,as well as have had explored his/her own beliefs, b i a s e s a n d a n y p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e s o f t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o p a r e n t h o o d  through  adoption following infertility. One of the objectives in counselling is to assistand support clients through times of crisisin their lives, in an attempt to minimize create personal meaning  the stress and  from the experience. The findings of this study  substantiate the reality that infertility,adoption, and the transition to create varying measures  parenthood  of crisisin couples' lives. It is therefore incumbent  on  counsellors to be aware of and familiar with this experience which affects a large number  of people in our society. Further, there are established  counselling facilitiesavailable for adopted children and for birth mothers, these seem to be lacking for the parents who counsellors trained in this field to proceed accommodate Another What  but  adopt. It is important, then, for in setting up facilities to  this need. objective in counselling is to facilitatechange  for the client.  is evident from the findings of this study is that the adoptive  d i d i n i t i a t ec h a n g e  experience  for the individuals. It follows then that counsellors  can  109 encourage meaning  clientsto speak about this change, assistthem in understanding  the  of the change and use itto grow in other areas of their lives. In  addition, counsellors need to provide validation and support for the  experience  of the adoptive parents. Inviting clientsto speak about their infertility and adoption experience  might necessitate a gentle and direct request, since  couple may be accustomed to maintaining secrecy and privacy. The  the data  revealed that the individuals were cautious in talking about their experiences w i t h o t h e r s . O n e c a n s p e c u l a t e t h a t t h i s h e s i t a t i o nm a y b e d u e t o t h e d e p t h the pain that surrounded  the experience of the couple, or perhaps a fear of  judged or misunderstood. s k i l l si n e m p a t h y  of being  It follows that the counsellor should have sufficient  and in dealing with the fullrange of emotions that may  surface  d u r i n g t h e c o u p l e s ' e x p e r i e n c e a n d / o r t h e r e t e l l i n go f t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e . The couples in the study reported that theiradoptive experience  went  beyond the pragmatics of the event, and brought them to another level of spiritual awareness.  There  power, being somehow  was a tendency  to acknowledge  a  transcendent  involved in theirprocess. Since thismay be so,  c o u n s e l l i n g m u s t m o v e b e y o n d t h e l i m i t so f b e h a v i o u r a l a n d c o g n i t i v e c h a n g e  to  include the philosophical and spiritualdomains.  to  This would invitethe couple  find more personal meaning and to have theirexperience validated. Another  implication for counsellors is to orient and equip  and lay people who  professionals  are involved in the infertilityand the adoptive process.  was evident in the literaturethat even doctors and social workers, at times  It were  not accurately informed about the experience of infertileand adoptive couples, from theirperspective. An informed counsellor may be able to provide  a  110 resource for professionals which  could serve as a guide in understanding  d e a l i n g w i t h i n f e r t i l ea n d a d o p t i v e c o u p l e s . S u c h a g u i d e w o u l d  and  help to  normalize the adoptive process and give sanction to the couples to allow themselves expression of the fullrange of feelings that accompany experience.  the  Since parental self-acceptance is crucial in promoting  self-  acceptance in children (DiGiulio, 1988), counsellors and other professionals should use the appropriate language that sends messages of approval acceptance to the adoptive parents to enhance theirown  and  process of self-  acceptance. The co-researchers indicated that their involvement to expand the meaning  in this study  helped  of theirexperiences. This would suggest that the  reliving or reviewing of previous significantlifeexperiences provided  the  opportunity for deeper insightsto occur. With the increased awareness e x p e r i e n c e s o f l i f el i v e d o v e r t i m e , n e w a n d b r o a d e r m e a n i n g s m a y through the counselling process, enhancing personal growth. facilitatethisbroadened experience by theiropen posture and  and  emerge  Counsellors  can  empathetic  response to adoptive parents' experiences. Research Implications The focus of thisstudy has been on the experience of adoptive parenthood following infertility. The couples interviewed had adopted as their firstchild (for both husband  and wife), a healthy, same  race, newborn  within the previous 12 months before the interview. The route chosen i n v e s t i g a t et h i s e v e n t w a s a n e x i s t e n t i a l - p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l m e t h o d .  infant to Further  Ill  research is required to document  the phenomenon  found in this study.  Following are possible areas of investigation. Given that the couples in thisstudy adopted same race, healthy,  newborn  infants,itmay be important to examine other types of adoption experiences, such as international,older child, and/or special needs children, to determine  if  the experiences and needs of these parents are similar to those of the coresearchers in this study. As well, investigation into single parent  adoption,  multiple child adoption, and adoption of a second or third child would  add  to  the body of experientialadoptionliterature. Long-term  follow-up studiesmay be helpful to determine the long-term  experiences and needs of adoptive couples and their children. As well, a  long-  term look at the effect of infertilityon parenting through the child's development  might reflectwhether or not infertilityhas a long term impact  the adoptive  family.  on  The co-researchers in the present study reported feelings of disappointment  in the reactions of some  and following the adoption. It may  significantothers during theirinfertility  be helpful to examine  the role of social  s u p p o r t i n h e l p i n g t o a l l e v i a t es o m e o f t h e i s o l a t i o na n d d i s t r e s so f during the infertilityand adoption Although  couples  experience.  the couples in this study found their transitionto parenthood  be a positive one, the ongoing  debate in the literatureregarding whether  adoptive or the biological transitionto parenthood  is more  the need for more research in thisarea. This research may societalmyths surrounding the adoption process.  the  stressful, illuminates aid in dispelling  to  112  Given that thisstudy did not examine  the differences, ifany,  between  private and public adoption, furtherinvestigationmay provide more in thisarea. This knowledge  may be useful to counsellors and  knowledge  other  professionals as they seek to assistand support couples in their transition to adoptive parenthood. Finally, with the lack of available phenomenological  research into the  e x p e r i e n c e o f t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o a d o p t i v e p a r e n t h o o d , a n d g i v e n t h e s m a l l  sample  size of this present study, limiting itsgeneralizability, replication of this with a larger sample size may  be helpful in more  fully understanding  method  this  phenomena. S u m m a r y For centuries,dating back to Biblical time, people have  entered  parenthood through the adoptive route. Today, there are several different ways to proceed through adoption. What  has been lacking in the writings and studies  h a s b e e n a n a c c o u n t o f t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f t h e t r a n s i t i o nt o through adoption following infertility,and itspersonal  parenthood  meaning.  The couples in the present study recalled theirexperiences  with  emotional depth and richness. The adoption experience was one of considerable impact and personal meaning for the co-researchers. Some changes that resulted from the experience were: emotional wound,  of the meaningful  healing of a previous and  deep  greater appreciation for others' pain, personal realignment  p r i o r i t i e sa n d v a l u e s , r e n e w e d  a p p r e c i a t i o n f o r t h e s p i r i t u a ld i m e n s i o n  and a sense of personal fulfillment in the cherished task of parenting.  of life, Clearly,  of  113  the transition to adoptive parenting is a viable experience  for many  society, and rightfullydeserves respectful attention and  empathetic  understanding, both in the literatureand in practice.  in  our  114  Burial Today I closed the door of the nursery I have kept for you in my heart. I can no longer stand in I have waited for you there I cannot forever live on the of the dream world we shar cannot entermy wor  its doorway. so long. periphery e,and you ld.  I have fought to bring you across the threshold of conception and birth. I have fought time, doctors, devils and God almighty. I am weary and there is no victory. O t h e r c h i l d r e nm a y s o m e d a y l i v ei n heart but never in your place. I can never hold you. I can let you go. But I must go The unborn are forever trapped w living but itis unseemly for living to be trapped forever by th  my  never really on. ithin the the e unborn.  E. Van Clef (Johnston, 1984, p. 18)  115 R E F E R E N C E S Adoption Factbook. (1989). National Committee D C .  for Adoption,  Washington,  Arms, S. (1975). Immaculate deception. Boston: Houghton  Miffin.  Arms, S. (1983). To love and letgo. New  Knopf.  York: Alfred A.  Batterman, R. (1985). A comprehensive approach to treatinginfertility. National Association of Social Workers. 46-53. Bell, J. S. (1981). Psychological problems among patientsattending an i n f e r t i l i t y c l i n i c . J o u r n a l o fP s y c h o s o m a t i Belsky, J., & Pensky, E. (1988). 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(1989). Preparation needs of infertilecouples who seek to adopt. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health . £(1), 111-121. Daniluk, J. C. (1988). Infertility:Intrapersonal and interpersonal impact. F e r t i l i t y a n d S t e r i l i t y .4 9 . ( 6 ) , 9 8 2 - 9 9 0 . Daniluk, o fi o fm Psyc  J. C, n f e r e n s t hiatric  Le t r As  ade i l u a soc  r, i t ia  A., &Taylor, J. J. t y - T h en e e d f o r i o n- M o n o g r a p tion (pp. 77-85). Dal  (19 f u ho las  85). r t ft h , T  The psychological sequelae h e rr e s e a r c h . T h eP s y c h i a t r i c i e 1 3 8 t hA n n u a lM e e t i n go ft h eA m e r X.  Davis, D. C. (1987). Aconceptual framework for infertility.Journal Obstetric.Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing. !£, 30-35.  of  D e b r o v n e r , C , & S h u b i n - S t e i n , R . ( 1 9 7 5 ) . S e x u a l p r o b l e m s i n t h ei n f e r t i l e c o u p l e . M e d i c a l A s p e c t s o f H u m a n S e x u a l i t y . 2, 1 4 0 DiGiulio, J. F. (1987). 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Maternal Child Nursing. 2, 191-196.  125  APPENDIX A  ADOPTION AFP1.1 CATIONS - MINISTRY ADOPTIOHS  Application Questionnaire Received in D.O.  Application and Questionnaire to Adopt. Sect.  Child Placed  Update Home Study every 2 years By D.O.  6 month Probation Period  D.O. prepares •Court report •Court Package •Obtains Court fee •Supervisor approves  Adoption Section Registers Application  Adopt. Sect. Registers Home Study, D.O. Informs Applicants  D.O. Informs Applicants of Registration  Adoption Section Requests D.O. To Begin Home study  Home Study done Register with Adopt. Sect.  D.O. starts Home Study Sets up F i l e with S1026  *Area Manager reviews and Comnents. *Area Manager sends Package/Report with conments t o Superintendent.  Superintendent •reviews report • i f O.K., signs •forwards t o Adopt. Section  Adopt. Sect, f i l e s p e t i t i o n with V i c t o r i a Court  Future Plan • D.O. strips • • F i l e , Arrange •• F i l e Order •  • F i l e to Admin.* • Services •  Adopt. Sect. Sends Minister's Letter to Adopt. Parents  D.O. sends to Adopt. Par. •Order •Birth Cert. D.O. sends to Adopt. Sect. •cc of Order  S o u r c e : B.C. M i n i s t r y o f S o c i a l S e r v i c e s a n d H o u s i n g , 1 9 9 0  D.O. Receives Order & B i r t h Certificate from D.V.S  Order Granted  o>  PRIVATE ADOPTION - FLOW CHART  D.O. Acknowledges Receipt Of N o t i c e  > D.O. Receives Legal Notice From Adoption Parents Or Lawyer, Or Adoption Section  \ /  >  D.O. Contacts B i r t h Parents For Interview Priority -  D.O. C o n t a c t s Adopting Parents •— To S t a r t I n q u i r y  I f B i r t h Parent Lives Outside Area, D.O. R e f e r To Other D.O./Agency  Superintendent Reviews Report Requires More I n f o r m a t i o n Returns To Area Manager  Order Not Granted or P e t i t i o n Not F i l e d  D.O. F i l e s Report With Court Where P e t i t i o n Is F i l e d  >  Superintendent Reviews/Signs Report. Returns To D.O.  D.O. Does Homestudy  D.O. O b t a i n s B i r t h Parent Background Medical/ Circumstances  D.O. Requests P e t i t i o n And Other Documents From Lawyer  V Area Manager Forwards Report To S u p e r i n t e n d e n t With Comments  D.O. Sends Court Report To Area Manager Who Reviews  D.O. Prepares Court Report For Superintendent  F i l e Closed Future Order Granted F i l e Closed Retained In D.  Source:  B.C. M i n i s t r y  of Social  •D.O. Prepares*• F i l e For * •Microfilming * •*•••*•*•••**•*  Services  and H o u s i n g ,  **«**«**»»»»»«»» «j» »«»*«* -)—*D .0. Forwards * • F i l e to Administrative* •Services *  1990  to  128  APPENDIX  B  Recruitment Announcement Thank  at Adoptive Parents Association  Meeting  you for allowing me the opportunity at be here today.  graduate student in Counselling  Psychology  at UBC.  T am conducting  I am a  a study  sponsored by Dr. Judith Daniluk. The research is entitled"A Circle of Life: Transition from Infertilityto Adoptive  Parenthood''.  I need three couples  to  volunteer to be interviewed for thisproject. The purpose of the study is to understand more about the experienceof adoptive parenthood from those  who  have "lived" it. If you have any interestin being involved in thise research please speak to me at the end of the meeting tonight and I will have information for you. Thank  you.  more  130  APPENDIX  C  132  APPENDIX  D  t a b m n w  We are presently conducting a study to understand more fully the ransitionto parenthood through adoption, following infertility. Should you gree to participate, the research will take the form of a 2-3 hour interview with oth parents present. The interview will be tape-recorded and latertranscribed, a i n t a i n i n g s t r i c t e s tc o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , b y o m i t t i n g n a m e s , a n d u s i n g i n s t e a d , a u m e r i c a l l y c o d i n g s y s t e m . F o l l o w i n g t h e p r o j e c t , t h e s e t r a n s c r i p t sa n d t a p e s ill be destroyed.  You maintain the rightto withdraw from the projectat any time, You are free to make inquiriesconcerning any part of the procedure at any time, and following the interview there will be a debriefing time. In signing the section below, you will be acknowledging copy of thisconsent form and the attachedletter.  receipt of a  I agree to participate in the study. I am aware that I will be asked questions in an interview. The researcherhas assured me that my identitywill remain confidential.  N A M E : A D D R E S S : P H O N E  N U M B E R :  S I G N A T U R E : D A T E :  134  APPENDIX  E  135  I N T E R V I E W  Q U E S T I O N S  How  did you come to the decisionto adopt?  What  h a s i t b e e n l i k e t o g o t h r o u g h t h e e x p e r i e n c e o fi n f e r t i l i t y ?  What  has itbeen like for you to adopt your child?  What  was itlikewhen  How  have others responded to you through your experience of infertilityand  you saw your baby for the first time?  adoption? What would you have likedothers to do or not do? How  h a s y o u r r e l a t i o n s h i pw i t h y o u r s p o u s e c h a n g e d , i f i t h a s ?  How  have your roles changed, if they have?  What  is itlike for you to have a child who, career, recreation doesn't have any of your  genes? How  has becoming  a parent changed  your life,if it has?  What  has been the best part of the experience?  What  has been the worst part of the experience?  biological  


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