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Waiting for adoption : Coping with uncertainty Frank, Sharon Lynn 1994-12-31

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W A I T I N G F O R A D O P T I O N : C O P I N G W I T H  U N C E R T A I N T Y by  S H A R O N L Y N N  F R A N K  B . S. W . , U n i v e r s i t y o f R e g i n a ,  A THESIS  SUBMITTED  I N PARTIAL  1981  FULFILLMENT  T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E M A S T E R O F S O C I A L  O F  W O R K  in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E School of Social  S T U D I E S  Work  W e a c c e p t this thesis as c o n f o r m i n g to the required standard  T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H December  C O L U M B I A  1994  © Sharon Lynn Frank,  1994  O F  In  presenting  degree freely  at  the  available  copying  of  department publication  this  of  in  partial  fulfilment  University  of  British  Columbia,  for  this or  thesis  reference  thesis by  this  for  his thesis  and  study.  scholarly  or for  her  I  of  Date  DE-6 (2788)  further  representatives.  financial  gain  /OQ-QL QLJ— CiA^UC  The University of British C o l u m b i a Vancouver, Canada  I  the  shall  requirements  agree  that  agree  purposes may  permission.  Department  of  be  It not  that  the  be  Library  an  by  understood allowed  the  advanced  shall  permission for  granted  is  for  make  extensive,  head  that  without  it  of  copying my  my or  written  A B S T R A C T  Waiting for adoption has been acknowledged  in the  literature as  problematic a n d stressful, yet this has not b e e n the subject o f research.  In  potentially  Saskatchewan  during the 1980s, the supply o f children available for adoption has diminished and d e m a n d for a d o p t i o n b y infertile couples  has increased.  the  O n e o f the results o f  imbalance has been increased waiting times for prospective adopters.  this  Guided by grounded  theory, this qualitative, exploratory, retrospective study o f the experience o f waiting adoption focuses u p o n the period o f time between agency application and the selection or placement  o f a child.  approval o f the  Data was  for  adoption  gathered by  single  occasion interviews with nine adoptive families. C o p i n g w i t h u n c e r t a i n t y is t h e c e n t r a l i s s u e f o r p r o s p e c t i v e a d o p t e r s w h o e n t e r t h e waiting period with expectation a n d hopefulness about their desire to adopt.  Primary  c o p i n g strategies are problem-focused, such as information search a n d mobilization support, o r emotion-focused, such as denial o r distancing. strategies w e r e identified.  of  G e n d e r differences in coping  Discrepancies between expected waiting time and  experienced  waiting time are a k e y determinate o f uncertainty strain. Sensitivity to the passage o f time heightens over the course o f waiting and perceptions o f social support resources  may  c h a n g e if t h e y fail to m e e t w a i t i n g adopters' e x p r e s s e d n e e d s f o r i n f o r m a t i o n a n d s u p p o r t . Perceptions o f social w o r k e r s tended to c h a n g e as waiting uncertainty increased; w e r e f o u n d to be less accessible, supportive or well-informed.  The Adoptive  they  Parents  Association w a s f o u n d to be the m o s t consistent and reliable source o f information a n d support.  Revising expectations o f waiting time appears to provide the m o s t  management  o f uncertainty strain.  effective  These findings are preliminary and further study  required to confirm and expand t h e m further.  ii  is  T A B L E O F  C O N T E N T S  Title P a g e Abstract Table O f Contents List O f Tables List Of Figures  i ii iii vi vii  Chapter O n e , Introduction T o T h e Study Broad Issue O f Study Research Study Thesis Report  1 2 7 9  Chapter T w o , Adoption Trends In Canada A n d Saskatchewan Introduction P a r t I, H i s t o r i c a l O v e r v i e w Adoption Trends In Canada P a r t II, A d o p t i o n I n S a s k a t c h e w a n Early History Placement Trends Current Adoption Policies Summary  11 11 11 17 18 18 19 24 29  Chapter Three, Transition T o Adoptive Parenthood Introduction Transition T o Parenthood Motivation T o Parent Decision T o Parent Infertility Decision T o Adopt Transition T o Adoptive Parenthood Agency Role In T h e Transition To Adoptive Parenthood Summary  31 31 32 33 35 37 39 40  Chapter Four, Research Design Eligibility Criteria Sample Data Collection Data Analysis Use Of T h e Literature Ethical Issues  44 45 46 49 51 52 53 iii  41 42  53 54  Reliability A n d Validity Limitations O f T h e Study  Chapter Five, Presentation Of Findings 56 Introduction 56 56 Parti, The Adoption Process 57 Deciding T o Adopt 59 Homestudy Waiting F o r Selection A n d Placement 60 61 Selection A n d Placement Summary 62 63 P a r t II, W a i t i n g F o r A d o p t i o n Introduction 63 68 Expectations 70 Uncertainty 71 Promptors Coping 73 77 Options Appraisal 80 Outcome 81 Impact O f Time Impact O f T i m e A n d Perceptions O f Social Support System 84 87 Impact Of Policy Changes Summary 89 Chapter Six, Discussion O f Findings Introduction Time Stress A n d C o p i n g Uncertainty Expectation Discrepancies Gender Differences Social Support Systems Stress Interventions Summary  91 91 91 93 95 97 98 100 101 102  Chapter Seven, Conclusions A n d Recommendations  104 106  Recommendations  110  Bibliography  iv  Appendice A B. C. D. E.  s  U B C Ethics Review F o r m Ethics Approval Interview Consent F o r m Interview Guide Coded Excerpts F r o m Interview Transcript F. Process Matrix: Becoming A n Adoptive Parent G. Dendrogram Data Display: Coping  v  123 129 130 132 133 143 146  L I S T O F Table  T A B L E S  Title  Page  T a b l e 2.1  Crown Ward Adoption Placements M a d e B y Saskatchewan Social Services 1980-81 to 1989-90  22  Table 2.2  Healthy White Infant Placements C o m p a r e d T o Applications Per Year From 1983-84 to 1989-90  23  T a b l e 5.1  Chronological Summary O f T h e Adoption Process  57  Table 5.2  Case by Case Table Of Waiting Time Expected A n d Actual Time  82  T a b l e 5.3  Bivariate Table Of Uncertainty B y Time  83  vi  L I S T O F  Figure  F i g u r e 5.1  F i g u r e 5.2  F i g u r e 5.3  F I G U R E S  Title  Page  Abridged Dendrogram Data Display Coding For The Category Coping  64  >C a u s e a n d E f f e c t M a t r i x Promptor A n d Uncertainty O f Time  66  Coping With Uncertainty Paradigm  vii  67  C H A P T E R O N E I N T R O D U C T I O N T O T H E  W e w o n d e r w h y it's b e e n t o b e g i n . It's s o h a r d t o waiting for the sunrise hints o f what will happe each other - someday!  S T U D Y  so l o n g a n d difficult for o u r family w a i t . It's l i k e s i t t i n g u p a l l n i g h t o n l y t o find a c l o u d y d a y w i t h n o n . B u t w e w a i t a n y w a y a n d tell  T h i s excerpt f r o m a letter written b y prospective adoptive parents describes experience  encountered by m a n y such parents.  contingent  part o f the process.  decades,  frequent  references  Waiting for adoption has b e c o m e  T h r o u g h o u t the adoption literature o f the past  are m a d e  to  the  waiting  periods  prospective  experience before their hopes for parenthood are realized. N o t k n o w i n g exactly w h e n "the h a p p y event" will take place is o n e o f t h e h a r d t h i n g s a b o u t b e i n g a n a d o p t i v e parent...., no one can say for sure just w h e n the right baby will b e c o m e available. S o y o u have to settle d o w n to wait. A n d wait ( R o w e , 1969, p. 95). A d o p t i o n is a l w a y s a l e n g t h y process,.... F o r m o s t o f t h e adoptive parents in our survey there was a period o f months or in s o m e cases years between applying for and receiving a child. In retrospect, m a n y o f t h e m deeply resented this w a i t i n g p e r i o d b e c a u s e all this t i m e "their child" h a d b e e n g r o w i n g older within a n institution (Tizard 1977, p. 46). For some, adoption goes smoothly a n d quickly with their first efforts, w h e r e a s f o r o t h e r s there c a n b e l o n g w a i t s a n d painful disappointments. T h e latter possibility is, unfortunately, m o r e likely (Salzer, 1986, p. 254). In general, adoptive parents f o u n d the m o s t difficult parts o f t h e a d o p t i o n p r o c e s s t o b e (1) its l e n g t h a n d c o m p l e x i t y a n d 1  an a two  adopters  (2) a n array o f u n m e t expectations. M o r e t h a n o n e t h i r d o f the adoptive parents f o u n d the waiting periods stressful a n d anxiety-producing (Reid, Kagan, Kaminsky & Helmer, 1987, p. 147). .. c o u p l e s w h o s e e k t o a d o p t m u s t c o n t e n d w i t h a l o n g w a i t a n d in s o m e c a s e s the possibility o f n o t a d o p t i n g at all (Daly, 1989, p. 111).  B r o a d Tssue O f Study I n h e r s t u d y o f the a d o p t i v e f a m i l y life cycle, L e P e r e ( 1 9 8 8 ) identifies n i n e critical points w h e n a d o p t i v e families are at risk for crisis.  T h e s e c o n d o f t h e s e critical p o i n t s is  the period o f waiting between the successful completion o f the adoption study and placement o f a child.  the  H o w e v e r , e v e n t h o u g h it is i d e n t i f i e d a s a t i m e o f p o t e n t i a l c r i s i s ,  t h e r e is n o f u r t h e r d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e w a i t i n g p e r i o d , w h i l e e l a b o r a t i o n is g i v e n t o t h e e i g h t other critical points identified.  C a n a p e (1986), however, notes that o n c e the  study has been successfully completed, prospective adopters  adoption  enter,  ...the m o s t difficult t i m e - the w a i t i n g p e r i o d (p. 73). C o p i n g i s w h a t i t i s a l l a b o u t .. t h o s e w h o s u r v i v e .. d o s o b e c a u s e t h e y find w a y s t o l i v e w i t h t h e p r o b l e m ( p . 1 2 9 ) . W a i t i n g for a d o p t i o n has b e e n a c k n o w l e d g e d as a potentially problematic, part o f the process.  stressful  W h i l e it h a s b e e n n o t e d a n d c o m m e n t e d o n i n t h e r e s e a r c h l i t e r a t u r e ,  it h a s g e n e r a l l y b e e n d o n e s o i n p a s s i n g w i t h little a t t e n t i o n d e v o t e d t o t h e d i m e n s i o n s  of  the waiting experience.  of  infertile, childless,  first-time  Pendarvis (1985) studied waiting anxiety in two  groups  applicants for infant adoption. U s i n g an experimental  design,  standardized psychological tests w e r e administered to measure a n d c o m p a r e anxiety levels in adoptive applicants w h o entered the homestudy process promptly and those w h o required to wait.  were  Findings revealed that anxiety levels w e r e higher a n d m o r e consistent in  2  couples w h o  w e r e required to wait.  fluctuating levels o f anxiety.  Those who  did not wait had lower arid more  In conclusion, P e n d a r v i s states:  A n a d o p t i o n a g e n c y a n d its w o r k e r s m u s t t a k e some responsibility for anxiety management; whenever possible procedures w h i c h reduce anxiety should be initiated (P- 967). This study substantiates a belief c o m m o n l y held by adoption practitioners applicants entering the adoption study process frequently experience feelings o f  that  anxiety  due to their perceptions o f the investigative nature o f the assessment a n d uncertainties  of  its o u t c o m e ( H a m m , 1 9 8 5 ; H a r t m a n , 1 9 8 4 ; R e i t z a n d W a t s o n , 1 9 9 2 ) . It o f f e r s n o c l u e s t o t h e p o t e n t i a l f o r a n x i e t y f o l l o w i n g t h e a d o p t i o n s t u d y itself.  O n e m a y surmise that  the  e x p e r i e n c e o f b e i n g a p p r o v e d w o u l d r e d u c e a n x i e t y , b u t t h i s is n o t k n o w n . T h e issue o f waiting for adoption following completion o f the adoption study  has  b e e n v i r t u a l l y i g n o r e d a s a s u b j e c t f o r r e s e a r c h . T h i s n e g l e c t w o u l d b e u n d e r s t a n d a b l e i f it affected only a small portion o f the adoption population, but evidence suggests  that  w a i t i n g t i m e s h a v e increased in a d o p t i o n o v e r the last ten years. A n u m b e r o f changes have occurred in the past two decades w h i c h have resulted in significantly increased waiting times for m a n y adoptive families.  T h e n u m b e r s o f infants  available for adoption b e g a n to decline in the late 1960s a n d early 1970s. factors  to  this trend are advances  in medical technology  Contributing  in contraception,  availability o f abortion a n d increasing societal acceptance o f single parent families.  greater With  easier access to support services such as welfare allowances, d a y care a n d housing,  greater  n u m b e r s o f single w o m e n are opting to parent their children b o r n out-of-wedlock  rather  than relinquish them for adoption (Feigelman and McRoy  and Zurcher, 1983; Brodzinsky and Schechter,  3  Silverman, 1983; 1990).  Sachdev,  1983;  In the 1950s, o n e in ten couples experienced infertility p r o b l e m s .  M o r e current  estimates suggest that o n e in six couples experience difficulty in c o n c e i v i n g o r c a r r y i n g a pregnancy to term (Feigelman and Silverman, 1983; Covington, 1987; Daly, 1988).  This  increase h a s b e e n related to t r e n d s i n later a g e at m a r r i a g e a n d d e l a y e d c h i l d b e a r i n g , a n d higher incidence o f complications f r o m contraception and disease (Cole, 1983; and Silverman, 1983; M a t t h e w s and M a t t h e w s 1986; Covington, 1987). in higher d e m a n d for adoption services by couples  who  have  Feiglelman  This has  encountered  resulted impaired  fertility. T h e most dramatic change has been the decline in the population o f children, m o s t p r o m i n e n t l y the supply o f healthy, majority race infants.  available  Faced with  prospect o f years o f waiting, a g r o w i n g n u m b e r o f childless couples have turned  the their  interest to less traditional f o r m s o f adoption: interracial adoption, adoption o f older handicapped children, international adoption, and independent, adoption.  or  or privately  arranged,  Despite their ingenuity in pursuing the options for non-traditional  adoptions,  m a n y prospective adopters continue to experience delays before their plans for parenthood are realized. F o r those w h o are unable to accept the risks or potential problems o f nontraditional forms o f adoption, the consequences are lengthy waiting periods and prospect that a child m a y never be placed.  the  T h o s e w h o are successful face the likelihood  that their adopted child will be an only child. Agencies faced with a diminishing supply o f adoptable infants a n d an d e m a n d for services survival and have  from  increased  parents wishing to adopt have been caught in the dilemma  created new  or redefined existing policies  to maintain their  of o w n  existence. Redefining criteria o f the adoptability o f children has resulted in larger n u m b e r s o f children in foster care being placed for adoption, particularly those w h o previously were thought unadoptable o n the basis o f race, health, or age.  4  O n e o f the latest trends in the  adoption  field  has been open adoption.  T h i s is t h e p r a c t i c e o f a l l o w i n g b i r t h p a r e n t s  c h o o s e a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s f r o m a list o f p o t e n t i a l c a n d i d a t e s , t o m e e t t h e m a n d i n cases, to engage in agreements for ongoing contact following the adoption  to  some  placement.  O p e n a d o p t i o n has b e e n v i e w e d as a w a y for agencies to increase their c h a n c e s o f survival by capturing the population o f birth and adoptive parents w h o privately arranged adoptions.  previously engaged  in  It h a s a l s o b e e n p r o m o t e d a s a m e a n s t h r o u g h w h i c h  to  entice greater n u m b e r s o f relinquishments o f healthy infants. B e c o m i n g a p a r e n t is a p r o c e s s o f t r a n s i t i o n w h i c h u s u a l l y b e g i n s w i t h t h e  decision  to have a child, m o v e s t h r o u g h conception a n d pregnancy, a n d concludes with the and adjustment  to the n e w  roles o f parenting.  important milestone in a n adult's d e v e l o p m e n t child's entry into the family.  birth  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 is  an  a n d this also m a r k s the beginning o f  T h e parent's capacity to m a k e a successful adjustment  a  may  set t h e c o u r s e o f t h e f a m i l y life. H u m a n b e i n g s e x p e r i e n c e a n u m b e r o f transitions t h r o u g h o u t the life c y c l e  from  child to adult, school to w o r k , single to married, childless to parenthood, job to  job,  m a r r i e d to w i d o w e d o r d i v o r c e d , etc. T r a n s i t i o n s i n v o l v e a p r o c e s s o f p a s s a g e , o f m o v i n g from o n e s t a t e o f c e r t a i n t y t o a n o t h e r , w i t h a n interval o f uncertainty and change in between (Golan, 1981, p. 12). T u r n i n g p o i n t s i n the life c y c l e m a r k transitions w h i c h call f o r c h a n g e s i n s e l f - c o n c e p t a n d adaptation to n e w roles.  W h e n transitions are v i e w e d primarily as losses, s u c h as the loss  o f a s p o u s e t h r o u g h d e a t h o r d i v o r c e , t h e m a j o r t a s k is o n e o f d i s e n g a g e m e n t w i t h t h e p a s t b e f o r e t h e t a s k o f a d j u s t i n g t o a n e w i d e n t i t y a n d r o l e is e m b r a c e d .  W h e n transitions  are  s e e n p r i m a r i l y as a g a i n , s u c h as a s o u g h t a n d a c q u i r e d j o b p r o m o t i o n , a t t e n t i o n is  devoted  to adjusting to a n e w identity and disengagement with the past m a y be given only  passing  attention ( A d a m s , H a y s & H o p s o n , 1976, pp. 219-220). 5  Turning points, whether they are  t h e b i r t h o f a b a b y , t h e l o s s o f a j o b o r a s p o u s e , o c c u r w i t h i n a n individual's life c o u r s e  as  well as within a larger social context. Life cycle events are m o r e likely to be traumatic if they occur off-time t h e s e q u e n c e a n d r h y t h m o f the life c y c l e ( C a r t e r a n d M c G o l d r i c k ,  and "upset  1980, p. 5)."  The  e x p e r i e n c e o f i n f e r t i l i t y is j u s t s u c h a life c y c l e e v e n t a n d f r e q u e n t l y p r o m p t s a c r i s i s a s it blocks the transition to parenthood. For most people w h o adopt, the unrealized decision to conceive and bare children is f o l l o w e d b y t h e u n s u c c e s s f u l s e a r c h f o r d i a g n o s i s a n d t r e a t m e n t o f i m p a i r e d fertility a n d a n e w decision to pursue parenthood through adoption. T h e r e are t w o m a i n w a y s in w h i c h a childless person m a y step o f f the ever turning treadmill o f infertility treatments a n d search for a child. T h e first w a y is b y b e a r i n g o r a c q u i r i n g a c h i l d [ t h r o u g h a d o p t i o n ] . T h e s e c o n d is b y r e m a i n i n g childless ( H o u g h t o n a n d H o u g h t o n , 1984, p. 73). W h e n a d o p t i o n is e l e c t e d as a m e a n s b y w h i c h t o a c h i e v e p a r e n t h o o d , a t r a n s i t i o n a l c o u r s e is e m b a r k e d u p o n .  B e c o m i n g a n a d o p t i v e p a r e n t is a p r o c e s s  new of  transition w h i c h begins with the decision to apply to adopt a n d ends w h e n a child b e c o m e s a m e m b e r o f a family through a court order w h i c h establishes a legal relationship b e t w e e n child and parents. In the case o f agency adoption, applicants b e c o m e involved in a process w h i c h generally follows a sequence o f events which further attenuate the transition p a r e n t h o o d . T h e s e events, dictated b y a g e n c y policies are: 1.  a n a p p l i c a t i o n is m a d e w i t h t h e a d o p t i o n a g e n c y a n d m a y b e p l a c e d o n a w a i t i n g list;  2.  an adoption homestudy (a process o f preparation and evaluation o f t h e a p p l i c a n t s a s p o t e n t i a l a d o p t e r s ) is c o n d u c t e d a n d a d e s c r i p t i v e r e p o r t o f t h e a p p l i c a n t s is c o m p l e t e d ;  6  to  3.  t h e a p p r o v e d a d o p t i o n s t u d y is p l a c e d o n a w a i t i n g list p e n d i n g t h e selection o f a child;  Each  4.  placement o f a child proposed to the applicants;  5.  placement of a child made;  6.  supervision o f the placement for a probationary period;  7.  t h e a d o p t i o n is  finalized  by court order.  o f t h e s e s t a g e s i n v o l v e s a p e r i o d o f t i m e w h i c h is d e p e n d e n t ,  in part, u p o n  the  a g e n c y a n d t y p e o f a d o p t i o n e l e c t e d b y t h e p r o s p e c t i v e a d o p t e r s , b u t m o r e s i g n i f i c a n t l y , is dependent u p o n the balance of the supply o f adoptable children and the d e m a n d created by prospective adoptive parents. Transitions involve passing f r o m one state o f balance to another state o f balance and m a y require a n u m b e r o f adjustments to changing conditions for individuals within themselves a n d situations  evolving in their environments.  The process of  transition  b e c o m e s one o f shifting balance a n d disequilibrium. A c r o s s t h e a g e s , t h e e x t e n t o f s u p p o r t a v a i l a b l e from o n e ' s social network, therapeutic interventions and social p r o g r a m s mediate the ease o f the transition to parenthood ( M i c h a e l s a n d G o l d b e r g , 1988, p. 2). Social w o r k e r s have the potential to be mediators o f this state o f disequilibrium a n d influence the l o n g - r a n g e c o u r s e o f their clients'-in-transition lives.  may  A s s u c h it is e s s e n t i a l  t h a t p r o f e s s i o n a l s u n d e r s t a n d t h e n a t u r e o f t h e p r o c e s s a s it is e x p e r i e n c e d b y t h e i r c l i e n t s . U n d e r s t a n d i n g facilitates useful, appropriate intervention.  Research Study The development  o f this study arises  professional experience in the adoption  field.  from  the course  of m y  During that time, I witnessed  7  eight years first-hand  of the  g r o w i n g tensions o f an agency and population o f hopeful adopters caught in the o f a diminishing supply o f children available for adoption placement. adoption  comes,  in part,  professionals in the field. from  from  m y  o w n  professional  dilemma  M y understanding of  experience  a n d that  of  other  M y most valuable source o f knowledge, however, has  come  those w h o have lived a n d continue to live with the experience o f adoption.  t h e b e s t t r a i n i n g f o r u m s f o r p r o f e s s i o n a l s e n g a g e d i n a d o p t i o n p r a c t i c e is t h e  they experience  and the meanings  they give their  of  interview  r o o m , the meeting r o o m a n d the h o m e s w h e r e adoptive families are present. and listening to what  One  Observing experiences  provides a rich a n d valuable source o f information. I believe that one o f the primary duties o f a s o c i a l w o r k e r is t o r e m a i n o p e n t o a n d a s s e s s t h e c o u r s e o f c h a n g i n g e v e n t s  which  affect their client population a n d to mediate, if possible, the conflicts a n d tensions  which  arise in a n ever changing environment. broad understanding o f the  T o d o this effectively, there needs to be a full a n d  issues faced by individuals seeking  parenthood  through  adoption. Preliminary  investigation  was  conducted  among  personal  acquaintances  and  m e m b e r s o f adoptive parent support groups in the communities o f lower mainland British Columbia and in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Their responsiveness to the topic  encouraged  the development o f the study. T h e q u e s t i o n f o r r e s e a r c h is:  H o w do prospective adopters experience  T h e p u r p o s e o f t h i s s t u d y is t o u p d a t e a n d b r o a d e n t h e c h i l d w e l f a r e about families w h o adopt. from  T h e study explores  the perspective o f the parents.  field's  the experience o f waiting for  waiting? knowledge adoption  A l t h o u g h t h e g u i d i n g p r i n c i p l e i n a d o p t i o n s e r v i c e is  t h a t t h e c h i l d is t h e p r i m a r y client, a f o c u s o n t h e p e r s p e c t i v e o f a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s  is  consistent with this principle.  Adoptive parents are the population u p o n w h i c h  the  viability o f a p r o g r a m depends.  Without these important resources, there w o u l d be  no  8  place to p r o v i d e for the best interests o f the child w h o home.  stands in need o f a  permanent  It is t h e y w h o a c c e p t r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r p a r e n t i n g t h e a d o p t e d child, a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y  w h i c h extends far b e y o n d the involvement o f the agency.  Adoptive parents become  c h i l d ' s p r i m a r y r e s o u r c e s y s t e m ; it is w i t h i n t h e c i r c l e o f t h e i r c a r e t h a t a d o p t e d g r o w u p a n d d e v e l o p their f u n d a m e n t a l v i e w s a n d beliefs. practice  of adoption  services  need  to  form  positive  children  Social workers engaged in the relationships  based  on  sound  u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the n e e d s o f their clients, the adoptive parents, in o r d e r to protect best interests o f the child. experiences  I n l i g h t o f t h i s , it is i m p o r t a n t t o l e a r n m o r e a b o u t  in the process o f b e c o m i n g adoptive parents.  It m a y p r o v i d e  the their  information  about their needs a n d point to changes w h i c h could provide greater support a n d from  a  assistance  within the agencies w h i c h serve t h e m and ultimately, the children w h o enter  their  families. T h i s s t u d y is g u i d e d b y t h e p r i n c i p l e s o f g r o u n d e d t h e o r y ( G l a s e r a n d  Strauss,  1 9 6 7 ) . It is b a s e d o n a h o l i s t i c a p p r o a c h a n d is a n e x p l o r a t i o n o f t h e w a i t i n g e x p e r i e n c e  of  adopters not in isolation, but as a social system that interacts w i t h a n d depends o n  the  larger social system o f w h i c h they are a part.  T h e g o a l is t o d e s c r i b e t h e e x p e r i e n c e  waiting, to develop a theory and generate hypotheses.  T h e e n d result o f the study  of is  meant to provide a guide for further investigation.  Thesis Report T h e t h e s i s r e p o r t is o r g a n i z e d as  follows:  C h a p t e r T w o is w r i t t e n i n t w o sections.  Part I explores the history o f adoption  a n d its u n d e r l y i n g v a l u e s a n d p r e s e n t s c u r r e n t t r e n d s i n a d o p t i o n i n C a n a d a .  Part  II  describes adoption p r o g r a m s a n d policies, a n d recent trends a n d changes in the  field  of  9  adoption in the Province o f Saskatchewan during the 1980s.  It p r o v i d e s a c o n t e x t  and  a n adoptive parent as a  life  background to the research. Chapter Three explores the issues o f becoming transition. Chapter F o u r outlines  the  methodology  rationale for the choices o f these methods.  employed  for the  research  This includes a description o f the  and  the  research  design, the population, sampling, data collection a n d data analysis. Chapter Five presents the findings o f the study. Chapter Six explores the findings further with comparison to the findings o f other research studies. In C h a p t e r Seven, the final chapter, a s u m m a r y a n d conclusions along  with  implications  for  possible  changes  recommendations for further study.  10  in  practice  and  policy  are as  presented well  as  C H A P T E R T W O A D O P T I O N T R E N D S I N C A N A D A  A N D  S A S K A T C H E W A N  Introduction A d o p t i o n is a s o c i a l l y c o n s t r u c t e d i n s t i t u t i o n w h i c h p r o v i d e s f o r t h e c r e a t i o n o f a parent and child relationship by persons not related by birth (Child Welfare L e a g u e  of  A m e r i c a , 1 9 7 8 ) . A d o p t i o n is a s o c i a l a n d a l e g a l a c t ; it is v a l u e l a d e n a n d h a s b e e n  shaped  through political and social processes ( H a r t m a n a n d Laird, 1990). D u r i n g the past  decade,  the underlying principles and values o f adoption practice have been challenged changed in N o r t h America. adoption.  This chapter will explore the development  T h i s c h a p t e r is d i v i d e d i n t o t w o  parts.  and change  Part O n e will present a  and in  historical  o v e r v i e w o f a d o p t i o n w h i c h e x p l o r e s its c h a n g e a n d d e v e l o p m e n t o v e r t i m e , s o m e o f t h e social and cultural values w h i c h have shaped the practice o f adoption, and s o m e o f the  key  c h a n g e s w h i c h a r e n o w at h a n d .  and  Part T w o will present an overview o f placement  waiting period trends in Saskatchewan and a review o f the adoption programs and policies w h i c h w e r e in effect or changed during the course o f the adoptions encountered b y  the  s t u d y p a r t i c i p a n t s . T h i s is i n t e n d e d t o e s t a b l i s h t h e b r o a d e r e n v i r o n m e n t a l c o n t e x t w i t h i n w h i c h the study participants became adoptive parents.  P a r t I: H i s t o r i c a l O v e r v i e w The practice o f adoption dates b a c k to the beginnings o f recorded history. ancient times, adoption served a variety o f functions: to meet religious obligations;  In to  p r o v i d e a n heir to perpetuate family status a n d wealth; to qualify for political office; o r to build alliances b e t w e e n clans.  Early adoption laws, which date back to 2800 B . C . ,  regulated a n d a c k n o w l e d g e d the legitimacy o f adoption as a social practice.  11  Historically,  adoption served the social, political a n d e c o n o m i c needs o f adults rather than the  needs  a n d interests o f children (Schaffer a n d L i n d s t r o m , 1991: Reitz a n d W a t s o n , 1992;  Kirk,  1988; C o l e a n d D o n l e y , 1990; G r i f f i t h ,1991; B r o d z i n s k y , 1987; G o o d a c r e , 1966). I n N o r t h A m e r i c a , the first a d o p t i o n legislation w a s e n a c t e d in M a s s a c h u s e t t s 1851.  in  This provided court procedures and guidelines which were intended to ensure  biological and adopting parents were decisions  protected  from  making uninformed or  a n d i n t r o d u c e d the idea that a child's welfare w a s  (Robertson, 1987).  a primary  that  coerced  consideration  T h e Massachusetts statutes b e c a m e a cornerstone for later C a n a d i a n  statutes, the first o f w h i c h w a s p a s s e d in N e w B r u n s w i c k i n 1 8 7 3 ( K i r k , 1 9 8 8 ) .  It  took  a n o t h e r 50 years before the majority o f C a n a d i a n p r o v i n c e s f o l l o w e d suit a n d  enacted  legislation to formalize adoption. In the late 1800s, a d o p t i o n w a s l o o k e d to as a solution for the large n u m b e r s h o m e l e s s children f o r c e d b y p o v e r t y into the streets o f the cities o f G r e a t B r i t a i n a n d U n i t e d States.  Charles Loring Brace, founder o f the N e w York Children's A i d  of the  Society,  maintained that institutional care in almshouses w a s contrary to the long-term needs  of  these o r p h a n s a n d street urchins. H e p r o p o s e d that the best solution for the care o f these children w a s to be placed with f a r m families where they w o u l d benefit work  hard and where  opposition  from  f a r m families  would  benefit  from  learning to  f r o m additional labor.  Despite  the poverty-stricken parents o f m a n y o f these children and the  charitable  agencies w h o had been providing for them, Brace's "orphan train" m o v e m e n t took (Cole and Donley, 1990).  In C a n a d a , an estimated 73,000 children were sent  B r i t a i n d u r i n g t h e p e r i o d o f t i m e b e t w e e n C o n f e d e r a t i o n a n d W o r l d W a r I. the age  of nine were  unsatisfactory, (Marcus, 1979).  offered for adoption under the  they could be  returned.  from  Great  Those  under  condition that if they  Older children were  indentured as  People arranged their o w n adoptions prior to the adoption  12  hold  proved servants legislation  enacted in C a n a d i a n provinces in the late 1 9 2 0 s a n d they continued to advertise unwanted children into the early 1930s.  their  N u r s e s a n d doctors often acted as the b r o k e r s in  these arrangements (Marcus, 1979). Until the 1920s the adoption o f infants w a s not a widely accepted social practice in North A m e r i c a (Cole and Donley, 1990).  Following World  increase in children b o r n to unmarried w o m e n  W a r I there was a m a r k e d  a n d p u b l i c a l a r m at the p r o s p e c t  of  illegitimate children b e c o m i n g a charge o n g o v e r n m e n t or charitable institutions (Griffith, 1991). T h e r e w a s a widespread fear that the children o f the p o o r w e r e genetically inferior and unsuitable candidates for adoption (Cole and Donley, 1990).  Orphaned and  unwanted  c h i l d r e n c o n t i n u e d t o f i l l o r p h a n a g e s f o r m a n y y e a r s u n t i l , i n t h e 1 9 4 0 s it w a s  deemed  unhealthy for children to be raised in institutions ( M a r c u s , 1979). W i t h t h e rise i n t h e b i r t h o f c h i l d r e n b o r n o u t - o f - w e d l o c k f o l l o w i n g W o r l d W a r II, adoption agencies w e r e formed, and adoption c a m e within the d o m a i n o f social workers. T h e s e agencies primarily served the n e e d s o f m i d d l e a n d u p p e r class, white, couples.  infertile  A d o p t i o n agencies supported the growing theories o f "nurture over nature"  to  dispel the biases against illegitimacy and marketed the "blue-ribbon" baby concept  to  prospective  adopters.  This  included  promises  characteristics, ethnic backgrounds, a n d religion.  of  rigorous  matching  physical  Adopters were offered a child  w o u l d help t h e m l o o k like biologically f o r m e d families a n d avoid the s h a m e w i t h infertility.  of  who  associated  T h e negative connotations o f illegitimacy affected both the child and  child's birth mother.  W o m e n , pregnant out-of-wedlock,  rejected b y their families  society in general, h a d few social supports through w h i c h they might be able to  the and  provide  for a child. R e l i n q u i s h m e n t o f their infants w a s v i e w e d as a n act o f r e d e m p t i o n for their sinful behavior (Griffith, 1991).  Birth parents w e r e advised by social workers to  the pregnancy, birth, and relinquishment experience  13  a n d g o o n w i t h their lives.  forget The  a d o p t e d child's birth records w e r e a m e n d e d to s h o w adoptive parents as t h o u g h they w e r e the  biological  parents  and  confidentiality in adoption.  adoption  records  were  sealed  to  provide  complete  T h e intent o f these practices w a s to protect the " g o o d  o f the birth parent a n d to protect the interests o f the child (Small, 1987; Griffith, 1991; Siegel, 1993).  from  name"  the stigma o f illegitimacy  A d o p t i o n legislation a n d agency policies  and  practices predicated o n the need to protect, created a setting in w h i c h the child  was  " r e b o r n " at the t i m e o f the a d o p t i o n a n d p a r e n t s w e r e e n c o u r a g e d to treat their child "as t h o u g h b o r n " to t h e m .  adopted  A d o p t i o n created a n e w family for the child and agencies  perceived a d o p t i o n as a single event in time. T h e 1960s unleashed a w a v e o f changes in social conditions values and attitudes which prompted thinking about adoption in n e w ways.  T h e civil rights m o v e m e n t o f the  1950s a n d 1960s engendered the organization a n d g r o w t h o f a n u m b e r o f civil activities for disadvantaged g r o u p s a n d a n e w interest in the As  attitudes shifted  from  disadvantaged group with child" principle emerged  children being viewed rights  to protection  from  as  rights  of children  rights  emerged.  property o f their parents  to  a  deprivation, the "best interests o f the  and changes in child welfare  reform began  to  take  place  (Goldstein, F r e u d a n d Solnit, 1973; C o l e a n d Donley, 1990; F e i g e l m a n a n d Silverman, 1983).  T h e permanency planning m o v e m e n t o f the 1970s p r o m p t e d the identification o f a  n e w population o f children w h o had previously been considered unadoptable o n the basis o f racial origins, physical, mental or emotional handicaps, and those in family (Reitz and Watson, 1992).  groups  T w o n e w views about the needs a n d interests o f children  emerged w h i c h influenced adoption practice.  T h e s e w e r e that all children are entitled  to  g r o w u p i n f a m i l i e s a n d t h a t a d o p t i o n is a v i a b l e o p t i o n f o r c h i l d r e n w h o s e b i r t h f a m i l i e s are unable or unwilling to care for them (Child Welfare L e a g u e o f America, 1978).  14  N e w  p r o g r a m s and practices in adoption w e r e developed to meet the challenges o f the complex needs of these children and of prospective  more  adopters.  A s changes in family structure and sexual mores p r o m p t e d a decrease in the  social  stigma of single-parenthood and sources of family welfare support were extended,  the  pressures o n u n w e d mothers to relinquish their infant children decreased (Feigelman  and  Silverman, 1983; McRoy  and Zurcher, 1983; Cole, 1983).  A t the same time, there w a s  g r o w i n g d e m a n d for a d o p t i o n as a result o f increasing infertility rates ( F e i g e l m a n Silverman, 1983; M a z o r , 1979; Covington, 1987; Salzer,  a and  1986).  A d o p t i o n practices a n d policies, a n d the assumptions a n d values u p o n w h i c h they were based, have c o m e under increasing challenges adoptive parents, and birth parents.  from  three groups: adult  A d u l t adoptees were the  first  adoptees,  g r o u p to organize  press for the right to have records opened, claiming the right to have information  and about  their genetic heritage a n d the reasons for their relinquishment (Griffith, 1991; Reitz Watson,  and  1992). A d o p t i v e parent organizations date b a c k to the late 1940s a n d originally served  purpose o f mutual support for adoptive families (Kirk, 1984).  In the late 1950s,  parent organizations (one in N e w York, the other in Montreal) w e r e f o r m e d b y involved  in transracial adoptions  (Tremitiere  and  Tremitiere,  1987).  the two  families  These  two  organizations formed the basis o f a large N o r t h A m e r i c a n organization which formed in 1974 to act as child advocates lobbying strongly in favor o f the placement o f children w h o are older and have  special needs.  They have  also d e m a n d e d  changes in  restrictive  eligibility requirements, subsidies for special n e e d s adoption, m o r e effective preparation for adoptive parenthood, and increased support services for adopted children and families following Watson,  adoption placements  (Tremitiere and Tremitiere, 1987;  1992).  15  Reitz  their and  Birth parents organized groups w h o  c a m e f o r w a r d to report that they d o  forget a n d have a deep interest in k n o w i n g about their children, a n d h o p e for (Griffith, 1991; Siegel, 1993; G o n y o and W a t s o n ,  not  reunion  1988).  P e r h a p s t h e m o s t s i g n i f i c a n t v i e w w h i c h h a s e m e r g e d is t h a t a d o p t i o n is m o r e t h a n a l e g a l a n d c o g n i t i v e d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g a c t ; it is a l i f e l o n g e x p e r i e n c e w h i c h a f f e c t s m e m b e r s o f the adoption triad (Eheart, 1988; Small, 1987; H a r t m a n , 1984; and Watson, 1987; C o l e and Donley, 1990).  all  Bourguignon  Research in adoption has done m u c h  substantiate a n d give weight to these n e w views.  Spearheaded by D a v i d Kirk in  studies have challenged assumptions about adoption as a one-time event w h i c h the p r o b l e m o f u n w a n t e d p r e g n a n c y , h o m e l e s s children, a n d infertility. T h e s e  to  1964, answers  assumptions  have given w a y to a recognition of the inherent losses encountered in adoption which  have  a lifelong effect o n m e m b e r s o f the a d o p t i o n triad (Griffith, 1991; R e i t z a n d  Watson,  1992; Johnston, 1984; Melina, 1989). A l l three groups have advocated for m o r e  openness  and sharing o f information.  T h i s has led to the need for those w h o w o r k in the field o f  a d o p t i o n to l o o k at c h a n g e s n e c e s s a r y to m e e t the e m e r g i n g n e e d s o f all m e m b e r s o f the adoption triad. Changing values which underlie adoption have resulted in demographic changes  in  the population o f children available, changes in practice, and m o r e openness in adoption arrangements.  A c r o s s N o r t h America, established adoption agencies have been faced with  the need to adjust if they wished to continue their d o m a i n in the  field  of adoption.  Some  shifted their focus to developing p r o g r a m s for the adoption o f special needs children, others developed international adoption programs.  S o m e , w h o still w i s h e d t o o f f e r i n f a n t  placement, turned to open adoption. In the past, couples w h o experienced infertility c o u l d t u r n to a d o p t i o n to their desires for parenthood.  W h i l e they faced the problems o f  16  finding  an  meet agency,  weathering the homestudy process, obtaining agency approval and enduring a  waiting  period, m o s t w e r e successful in their wish to adopt.  services  T h e availability o f support  for single parents and the lessening o f the social stigma associated with u n w e d  parenthood  are attributed to be the m o s t significant factors in the decrease o f the n u m b e r o f healthy infants available for adoption. This has p r o m p t e d prospective adopters to l o o k b e y o n d traditional adoption a n d the traditional adoption agency in their hopes o f  finding  the  a child.  It h a s a l s o p r o m p t e d t h e c r e a t i o n o f n e w p r i v a t e a g e n c i e s a n d i n d e p e n d e n t p r a c t i t i o n e r s i n the adoption  field.  Adoption Trends In C a n a d a A recent national adoption study conducted in 1990 by K . D a l y and M . traced adoption demographics and trends over the period o f 1981 to 1989.  Sobol  In the face o f  inconsistencies in r e c o r d keeping f r o m province to province, this study required creation o f estimates in trends in adoption.  H o w e v e r , the overall uniformity o f  the  trends  across provinces w a s seen to validate the estimates. D a l y and Sobol (1993) found that there has b e e n an overall decline in adoption in C a n a d a between 1981 adoptions.  and 1989.  T h e m o s t significant decrease has occurred in infant  W h i l e there has been an increase in pregnancies a m o n g single w o m e n ,  decision to carry the pregnancy to t e r m and parent their children has b e e n the prevalent reason for the decrease in the availability o f infants for adoption. services have  shifted  from  the  public to  the  particularly with respect to infant adoptions. 74.5% stable.  private  sector over  the  most  Adoption  past  decade,  While public agencies have experienced  decrease in infant adoptions, private adoption o f infants has remained  adoptions have remained primarily in the d o m a i n o f public agencies.  Adoptive  a  relatively  A l t h o u g h the adoption o f older children has also declined by 38.7%,  17  the  these parents  have experienced increased waiting times for adoption over the past decade.  This  b e e n particularly significant for those w h o have applied for the adoption o f infants p u b l i c a g e n c i e s w h e r e t h e a v e r a g e w a i t i n g t i m e is six y e a r s . agencies reported waiting times o f eight to twelve years.  has with  T w e n t y five percent o f public F o r those w h o adopt  through  i n d e p e n d e n t a g e n c i e s o r p r a c t i t i o n e r s w h o d o n o t c h a r g e f e e s , t h e a v e r a g e w a i t i n g t i m e is under three years.  It is less t h a n t w o y e a r s f o r t h o s e w h o a d o p t t h r o u g h  agencies a n d practitioners w h o charge fees.  These findings p r o m p t two  independent  considerations.  T h e first is t h e o b v i o u s a s s o c i a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e a b i l i t y t o p a y f o r a d o p t i o n s e r v i c e s a n d t h e reduction o f waiting periods.  T h e o t h e r c o n s i d e r a t i o n w h i c h e m e r g e s is t h e  suggestion  that the lengthy waiting in public agency adoptions m a y well m e a n that m a n y o f their applicants m a y never adopt.  It w a s r e c o m m e n d e d that t h e s e a g e n c i e s c l o s e t h e i r w a i t i n g  lists r a t h e r t h a n raise false h o p e s f o r p r o s p e c t i v e  P a r t II: A d o p t i o n I n  adopters.  Saskatchewan  Early History T h e first a d o p t i o n legislation w a s e n a c t e d in S a s k a t c h e w a n in 1922.  Prior to  time, adoptions w e r e arranged by private contract between adoptive and birth there  were  no  responsibilities.  legal  provisions  through  to  transfer  parental  parents;  rights  B y the 1950s, adoption placement o f healthy, majority race infants  well established under the direction o f what Services.  which  is n o w  k n o w n as  Saskatchewan  During the early years, infants w h o w e r e relinquished for adoption w e r e  a n d cared for in "baby shelters."  W h e n it b e c a m e a p p a r e n t t h a t t h i s k i n d o f c a r e  inadequate to m e e t the needs o f infants, the use o f b a b y shelters w a s discontinued.  18  that  and was Social kept was The  last o f these institutions w a s closed in 1 9 5 0 a n d infants awaiting a d o p t i o n w e r e  placed  exclusively in foster h o m e s (Child Welfare Branch, 1967). In  1967,  a new  program (now  titled Special A d o p t i o n ) w a s  developed  and  established to provide adoption resources for children b e t w e e n the ages o f infancy  to  twelve years w h o h a d been previously d e e m e d to be unadoptable because o f their racial origins, physical, intellectual or emotional problems or those w h o w e r e m e m b e r s o f family groups.  In the late 1960s, there w e r e an estimated 3,500 children in care, two-thirds  w h o m w e r e o f Indian or M e t i s origins.  T h e Special Adoption P r o g r a m was developed  of to  address t w o m a j o r concerns o f the time: the b r e a k d o w n rate o f foster placements a n d the increasing  financial  b u r d e n u p o n the Province for maintaining the child in care.  w a s v i e w e d as o n e viable, potential w a y to address these concerns. provide a permanent,  Adoption  The goal was  stable family setting for a population o f children  to  previously  c o n s i d e r e d u n a d o p t a b l e b y virtue o f their race. Initial efforts to recruit a d o p t i o n  resources  from  continued  the Native and M e t i s communities w e r e not highly successful.  However,  attention w a s given to same-race placements w h e n e v e r possible a n d this w a s with greater  frequency  d u r i n g the latter part o f the 1980s.  achieved  Currently, children with Treaty  Status m a y only be placed in non-Native h o m e s if written consent o f the B a n d has  been  obtained.  Placement Trends T h e annual total n u m b e r o f children placed for adoption b y Saskatchewan  Social  Services peaked in 1969-70 w h e n 513 majority race infants a n d 165 children o f minority or mixed race w e r e placed with adoptive parents.  W h i l e the total n u m b e r o f minority a n d  m i x e d r a c e p l a c e m e n t s v a r i e d slightly (this total p e a k e d in 1 9 7 4 - 7 5 at 196  19  placements)  o v e r t h e n e x t five y e a r s , t h e t o t a l n u m b e r o f c h i l d r e n a v a i l a b l e s t e a d i l y d e c l i n e d t h r o u g h o u t the 1970s and 1980s. T h e m o s t dramatic decrease w a s in the availability o f healthy, majority race infants. Between  1969-70 and 1973-74, the n u m b e r o f available healthy majority race  decreased  from  513  to 292.  In N o v e m b e r  1974,  applicants for the Healthy W h i t e Infant Program. two-fold.  a w a i t i n g list w a s  infants  established  for  T h e p u r p o s e o f t h i s w a i t i n g list  was  In response to the declining n u m b e r s o f available infants a n d increased  t i m e s f o r a p p l i c a n t s , it w a s m e a n t t o s c h e d u l e t h e c o m p l e t i o n o f t h e a d o p t i o n  waiting  homestudy  closer to the anticipated placement date a n d reduce waiting times during this period.  It  also served to place a m o r a t o r i u m o n h o m e s t u d y w o r k for this p r o g r a m to allow a period o f time during w h i c h the agency could realign allocation o f staff time to priorize further development o f the Special A d o p t i o n Program.  T h e w a i t i n g list w a s m a i n t a i n e d at  the Provincial A d o p t i o n Registry a n d applicants w e r e listed in chronological o r d e r u p o n date o f receipt o f their application. released  from  the  B y controlling the n u m b e r o f  t h e w a i t i n g list t o b e g i n a n a d o p t i o n h o m e s t u d y ,  based  applications  it w a s i n t e n d e d t h a t  manageable n u m b e r o f applicants could be processed in numbers roughly equal to  a the  n u m b e r o f children available for placement in any one year. In A u g u s t 1976, eligibility criteria b a s e d o n applicants' age, family size a n d marital s t a t u s w e r e e s t a b l i s h e d t o l i m i t t h e n u m b e r o f a p p l i c a n t s o n t h e i n f a n t w a i t i n g list. criteria w e r e a matter o f policy rather than legislation.  These  Applications w e r e limited to those  couples w h o s e c o m b i n e d ages did not exceed 70 years, w h o had no m o r e than one and w h o w e r e legally married.  This policy was developed by a committee appointed  r e v i e w w a i t i n g list p r o c e d u r e s a n d c a m e a b o u t as a r e s u l t o f c o m p l a i n t s b y parents about increasing waiting times for adoption placements. criteria w e r e  discontinued  child,  following  a number  20  of complaints  In 1983, made  from  to  adoptive eligibility ineligible  applicants through the Provincial H u m a n Rights Commission. to  date and chronological order for release  from  the  T h e w a i t i n g list  list f o r h o m e s t u d y  continues has  been  maintained. I n S a s k a t c h e w a n , t h e r e is a c o m m o n b e l i e f t h a t a n y a d u l t h a s t h e r i g h t t o adoption  services provided b y the Province o f Saskatchewan.  Access  to  access services,  however, does not guarantee that any applicant will be approved, nor that o n c e approved, will actually adopt a child. T h e policy m a n u a l endorses this perception o f right: B e f o r e t h e a p p l i c a t i o n f o r m is g i v e n o u t , it s h o u l d b e e m p h a s i z e d t o p o t e n t i a l a d o p t e r s that a d o p t i o n is n o t t h e r i g h t o f e v e r y c o u p l e t h a t a p p l i e s a n d t h a t o u r p r i m a r y r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i s t o find t h e b e s t h o m e f o r a p a r t i c u l a r c h i l d . I n o t h e r w o r d s , c o u p l e s h a v e a r i g h t t o a p p l y , n o t a right t o b e a p p r o v e d ( F a m i l y Services P o l i c y M a n u a l , 1982, S e c t i o n 4.1, p. 2). T a b l e 2.1, below, displays trends in a d o p t i o n placements m a d e b y  Saskatchewan  Social Services during the ten year period o f 1980-81 to 1989-90. T h e heading, Healthy W h i t e Infants, refers to children p l a c e d t h r o u g h the infant a d o p t i o n p r o g r a m titled, H e a l t h y W h i t e Infant P r o g r a m . C h i l d r e n placed t h r o u g h this p r o g r a m are o f C a u c a s i a n racial origins, w h o range in age  from  n e w b o r n to six m o n t h s o f age, a n d w h o h a v e  no  i d e n t i f i e d s i g n i f i c a n t h e a l t h p r o b l e m s o r risk o f h e a l t h p r o b l e m s i n t h e i r m e d i c a l h i s t o r i e s . T h e heading, O t h e r Infants, refers to children placed t h r o u g h the Special A d o p t i o n Program. from  These children are healthy, o f minority or m i x e d racial origins and range in age  n e w b o r n to six m o n t h s o f age; as well, these m a y b e children o f a n y racial origin  within the s a m e age range w h o have identified significant health problems or high m e d i c a l histories.  risk  T h e heading, O l d e r Children, (also placed through the Special A d o p t i o n  P r o g r a m ) refers to c h i l d r e n o f all racial origins These definitions w e r e d r a w n  from  from  seven m o n t h s to twelve years o f age.  S a s k a t c h e w a n S o c i a l S e r v i c e s A n n u a l R e p o r t s . It is  noted that the language used to define a n d classify children served b y the adoption  21  p r o g r a m s offered t h r o u g h S a s k a t c h e w a n Social Services appears to b e inherently racist. T h i s m o s t l i k e l y is a r e f l e c t i o n o f t h e t i m e s d u r i n g w h i c h t h e p r o g r a m s w e r e g i v e n t h e i r titles, p a r t i c u l a r l y , t h e H e a l t h y W h i t e I n f a n t P r o g r a m w h i c h w a s so n a m e d i n t h e  1960s  w h e n sensitivity to racist language w a s not high.  Table  2.1 C R O W N W A R D A D O P T I O N P L A C E M E N T S M A D E B Y S A S K A T C H E W A N S O C I A L S E R V I C E S 1980-81 T O 1989-90 Fiscal Year 1980-81 1981-82 1982-83 1983-84 1984-85 1985-86 1986-87 1987-88 1988-89 1989-90  Healthy White Other Infants Infants 184 34 137 45 141 35 128 27 107 N A 95 39 14 72 61 23 41 21 54 14  Older Child 170 137 83 71 79 * 32 48 49 42 48  Total Infants 218 182 176 155 N A 134 86 83 62 68  Total 388 319 259 226 186 166 134 133 106 116  * C o m b i n e d total o f O t h e r Infants a n d O l d e r C h i l d placements. (Annual Reports, Saskatchewan Social Services 1980-81 to  As  s h o w n in T a b l e 2.1  1989-90)  above, there was an overall decline in the numbers  adoption placements m a d e during the 1980s.  Healthy, majority race infant  decreased steadily until 1989-90 w h e n there w a s a slight increase.  infants could expect  placements  W h i l e the availability o f  infants diminished, the n u m b e r s o f applicants steadily increased between 1987-88 (see T a b l e 2.2 below).  of  1983-84  and  I n 1 9 8 3 , it w a s f o r e c a s t t h a t a p p l i c a n t s f o r m a j o r i t y r a c e  an overall waiting period (from date o f application to  adoption  placement)  o f three years.  A s the  availability o f infants continued to  decline,  anticipated waiting time increased to five years b y 1986 a n d eight to ten years in F a c e d with the discouraging prospects o f a ten year wait, prospective infant began to decrease in n u m b e r in  Table  the 1989.  applicants  1989.  2.2 H E A L T H Y W H I T E I N F A N T P L A C E M E N T S C O M P A R E D T O A P P L I C A T I O N S P E R Y E A R F R O M 1983-84 T O 1989-90 Healthy W h i t e Infant P r o g r a m Total Placements  Fiscal Year 1983-84 1984-85 1985-86 1986-87 1987-88 1988-89 1989-90  Total Applications  128 107 95 72 61 41 54  493 573 658 678 904 778 703  (Annual Reports, Saskatchewan Social 1980-81 to 1989-90)  Services  From the outset o f the Special A d o p t i o n P r o g r a m , applications for adoption  were  processed in chronological order based o n date o f receipt and homestudies were  started  within a 30 day period.  waited  Applicants who  had completed approved homestudies  varying times for placement depending o n the availability o f the type o f child requested  by  the applicants. A s the availability o f infants a n d y o u n g children in this p r o g r a m decreased, waiting times for placements increased.  B y 1 9 8 3 , it w a s n o t u n u s u a l f o r s o m e 23  applicants  to experience a wait exceeding t w o years for the placement o f an infant through program. 1983.  this  A s a result, a w a i t i n g list f o r S p e c i a l A d o p t i o n a p p l i c a n t s w a s e s t a b l i s h e d  T h e intent o f this w a i t i n g list w a s t o r e a l i g n h o m e s t u d y t i m i n g w i t h  placement date and to priorize applications for those children w h o available for placement.  Releases  from  in  anticipated  were more  readily  this w a i t i n g list a r e b a s e d o n a c o m b i n a t i o n  of  factors: race o f applicants, age range and general description o f child requested,  and  chronological order. Essentially, this served to delay applications for those children  who  w e r e less readily available (infants, t o d d l e r s a n d p r e - s c h o o l a g e children, a n d f e m a l e s o f all ages) and give priority to the development registered and waiting adoption placements  of resources  for the children w h o  were  (males, school-age children, children  significant health problems, a n d children with T r e a t y Status). priority to applicants o f minority racial origins.  It a l s o s e r v e d t o  Waiting times for Special  applicants vary greatly depending primarily o n the age,  with give  Adoption  race and health o f the  child  S i n c e t h e c r e a t i o n o f t h e i n f a n t w a i t i n g list i n 1 9 7 4 , s e m i - a n n u a l letters h a v e  been  requested.  d i s t r i b u t e d t o all a p p l i c a n t s o n t h i s w a i t i n g list. T h e s e l e t t e r s r e g u l a r l y i n f o r m a p p l i c a n t s o f any changes in predicted waiting times a n d policies.  A s w e l l , t h e intent o f t h e letters is t o  p r o v i d e r e a s s u r a n c e t o a p p l i c a n t s t h a t t h e y c o n t i n u e t o b e r e g i s t e r e d o n t h e w a i t i n g list. A p p l i c a n t s o n t h e S p e c i a l A d o p t i o n w a i t i n g list a r e n o t k e p t r e g u l a r l y i n f o r m e d  o f their  s t a t u s o n t h e w a i t i n g list o r o f c h a n g e s i n p r e d i c t e d w a i t i n g t i m e s , a v a i l a b i l i t y o f c h i l d r e n or policy changes.  Current A d o p t i o n Policies During the 1980s, a n u m b e r o f significant changes in adoption began to o c c u r in Saskatchewan.  In 1982, post-adoption services w e r e established w h i c h included providing  24  adult adoptees with non-identifying background information, copies o f adoption and/or a full search for birth family m e m b e r s and reunion arrangements.  Adult  orders adoptees  b e t w e e n the ages o f 18 to 20 years w e r e required to have the written consent o f their a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s i n o r d e r t o r e q u e s t a s e a r c h , d e s p i t e t h e f a c t t h a t 1 8 is t h e a g e o f m a j o r i t y in Saskatchewan  (Government  of Saskatchewan,  1982).  This was  a concession  adoptive parents w h o protested against the opening o f adoption records.  Searches  under-age  for  adoptees  could  be  made  information; this required physician's information gathered  from  in  special  circumstances,  documentation  to  usually  support the  to for  medical  search and  the birth parent was shared only with the physician.  any  In  1991,  additional post-adoption services w e r e created to provide for retroactive o p e n adoption in establishing a registry for adoptive parents a n d birth parents w h o wish to establish prior to the adoptee reaching the age o f majority.  contact  T h i s r e g i s t r y is p a s s i v e i n that  both  p a r t i e s m u s t r e g i s t e r b e f o r e s e r v i c e s f o r c o n t a c t a r e p r o v i d e d a n d n o s e a r c h is m a d e  on  b e h a l f o f either party. A c t i v e s e a r c h e s for birth parents are n o w m a d e at the request o f the adult  adoptees  Saskatchewan,  without  the  requirement  of  parental  consent  (Government  1991).  In 1984, a handful o f adoptive parents in Saskatoon created T h e  Saskatchewan  A d o p t i v e P a r e n t s A s s o c i a t i o n a n d h e l d their first p u b l i c m e e t i n g in J a n u a r y 1985.  Within  t w o years, the m e m b e r s h i p o f this organization h a d g r o w n to include 100 families. Association's initial g o a l w a s to s u p p o r t families, w h o children.  of  had adopted, in parenting  The their  O v e r time, their objectives have b r o a d e n e d to meet the diverse needs o f  membership, to include advocacy for children, a social support network for  prospective  adopters a n d adoptive families, information in the f o r m o f a bi-monthly newsletter, substantial lending library,training conferences and twice yearly social events. n o w ten affiliate g r o u p s in t o w n s a n d cities across the P r o v i n c e .  25  the  a  There are  Until 1987,  Saskatchewan  adoption services w e r e available.  Social Services w a s the only agency through  which  P r o g r a m s provided for services to applicants for  adoption o f C r o w n W a r d s through the Healthy W h i t e Infant P r o g r a m and the  the  Special  A d o p t i o n P r o g r a m . A s well, Saskatchewan Social Services provided adoption services for international, independent (private), a n d step-parent adoption.  In October 1987, the  private agency in the Province was authorized to develop a n d operate an adoption  first  service.  Christian Counselling Services Adoption P r o g r a m was funded by a government grant and offered services to both birth parents a n d adoptive parents w h o adoption.  U n d e r the  auspices o f this agency,  open an  approved adoption homestudy and be presented for selection by birth parents seeking  to  place their children with adoptive families w h o w e r e willing to be identified to them.  At  Within the  first  200  applicants  seeking  could obtain  the o p e n i n g o f this agency,  adoptive  were  applications w e r e distributed to potential  applicants.  six m o n t h s a w a i t i n g list w a s e s t a b l i s h e d a n d b y t h e e n d o f t h e  y e a r o f o p e r a t i o n , t h e w a i t i n g list w a s c l o s e d a n d n o n e w a p p l i c a t i o n s w e r e During their  first  first  full  accepted.  six m o n t h s o f operation, 6 infants w e r e p l a c e d for a d o p t i o n b y C h r i s t i a n  Counselling Services.  This agency arranged adoption placements for 28 children in  1988-  89 and for 55 children in 1989-90. Although  legislatively  established until 1988.  provided  for  in  1973,  subsidized  adoption  was  E l i g i b i l i t y f o r a d o p t i o n s u b s i d i e s is b a s e d o n t h e n e e d s o f t h e c h i l d ;  t h e r e is n o m e a n s test f o r a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s .  Children w h o m a y qualify are those registered  in the S p e c i a l A d o p t i o n P r o g r a m a n d for w h o m a reasonable s e a r c h ( o f at least 9 0 has been m a d e to  find  not  an adoption h o m e and has been unsuccessful.  Subsidies  basic monthly maintenance and/or payments for special services and/or extended benefits for pre-existing d i a g n o s e d physical, intellectual o r e m o t i o n a l disabilities.  26  days) provide health The  i n t e n t o f s u b s i d i z e d a d o p t i o n is t o p r o v i d e a s s i s t a n c e w h e r e t h e c o s t o f t h e child's c a r e o r special needs w o u l d be barriers to their adoption  placement.  Following in the footsteps o f Christian Counselling Services A d o p t i o n P r o g r a m , Saskatchewan Social Services established o p e n adoption policies for infant placements June 1989.  T h i s c h a n g e w a s a significant shift f r o m past a d o p t i o n p r o c e d u r e s  in  which  allowed only the sharing o f non-identifying information in the f o r m o f medical and social histories being shared with adoptive parents a n d birth parents.  O p e n adoption offered  a  range o f options for the sharing o f information and contact between adoptive and birth parents.  T h e s e options range f r o m traditional, a n o n y m o u s or closed adoption to  fully  open adoptions with direct (and possibly ongoing) contact arranged between birth and adoptive parents.  A l l applicants o n the H e a l t h y W h i t e Infant W a i t i n g List, as well as all  applicants w h o had approved homestudies and were waiting for placement, were informed o f the policy changes.  T h o s e with approved homestudies were engaged in a process  of  m a k i n g decisions about their options a n d selecting options for openness. Prior to this policy change, a social w o r k e r m a t c h e d a p p r o v e d adoptive w i t h available infants.  families  T h e criteria for these matches was based o n the request m a d e b y a  relinquishing birth parent for such things as religious affiliation o f the adoptive  parents.  W i t h t h e c h a n g e t o o p e n a d o p t i o n , it w a s p o s s i b l e f o r b i r t h p a r e n t s t o m a k e s e l e c t i o n o f a n adoptive family o n the basis o f information provided in adoption homestudies. three non-identifying adoption homestudies are provided to a birth parent m a k e a selection.  from  Usually which  to  These are pre-selected b y a social w o r k e r o n the basis o f the birth  parent's request for a h o m e as well as options for o p e n n e s s o f the adoption. T h e p r o v i s i o n o f non-identifying h o m e s t u d y reports r e q u i r e d the rewriting o f all homestudies in a non-identifying format.  It a l s o r e q u i r e d a c h a n g e  in the style  and  language o f the h o m e s t u d y report as the p r i m a r y readers b e c a m e birth parents rather than  27  social workers.  Adoptive parents w e r e given an opportunity to read and review  homestudy reports, an opportunity not previously provided for by policy.  their  T h e y were also  required to sign a statement w h i c h verified they h a d read their homestudy report  and  a g r e e d t h a t it w a s a f a i r a n d t r u e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e m a s a d o p t i o n c a n d i d a t e s . In cases w h e r e birth parents a n d a d o p t i v e parents elected to m e e t p r i o r to o r at the time o f placement, a d o p t i o n c a s e w o r k e r s w e r e called u p o n to facilitate these m e e t i n g s a n d assist the parties in negotiating contracts for future contact. A d o p t i o n administrators decided that there w a s a need to increase in the  numbers  o f a p p r o v e d a n d waiting resources in order to ensure that a n adequate supply o f resources be available for matching with a greater n u m b e r o f variables.  T h e result w a s that  there  w e r e m a n y m o r e a p p r o v e d resources than there w e r e children. F o r adoptive parents this meant  the possibility o f extending  waiting periods following the  completion  of  the  homestudy. During  the latter part o f the  1980s, there was  a growing perception  among  a d o p t i o n c a s e w o r k e r s at S o c i a l Services that i n d e p e n d e n t a d o p t i o n s w e r e increasing number.  in  A l t h o u g h independent adoptions are filed with Social Services, n o provincial  statistics h a v e b e e n kept to p r o v i d e c o m p a r a t i v e standards to substantiate this perception. Although international adoption has been available to residents o f  Saskatchewan  for m a n y years, this type o f a d o p t i o n w a s not in high d e m a n d until the e n d o f the During adoption  the  1 9 8 3 - 8 4 fiscal year for S a s k a t c h e w a n  placements  were  arranged.  B y  Social Services,  1987-88,  although  two  there  slightly in the  following  year with  four placements  and  26  international  were  international placements, there were 22 approved and waiting resources. approved  decade.  only  This and  increased waiting  applications. Because the d e m a n d w a s low, applicants for international adoption w e r e p l a c e d o n a w a i t i n g list a n d a d o p t i o n h o m e s t u d i e s w e r e b e g u n w i t h i n a m o n t h o f r e c e i p t  28  two  not of  application. In 1989-90, however, there w a s a dramatic increase in interest in international a d o p t i o n w h e n it b e c a m e w i d e l y k n o w n t h a t t h e r e w e r e l a r g e n u m b e r s o f c h i l d r e n i n orphanages  in Romania.  sent  from  Saskatchewan Social Services to R o m a n i a to gather information about children w h o  might  be available for adoption.  In February  1990,  a fact-finding mission  A s a result a special project w a s established b y Social  to arrange international adoption placements for children in R o m a n i a . 1990, the response  from  was  B y the spring  prospective adopters w a s so great that in addition to  applicants waiting for placement  arrangements,  established for international adoption.  Between  a w a i t i n g list o f 1 4 5  Services of  approved  applicants  was  1990 a n d 1992, thirty-six children  from  R o m a n i a w e r e adopted b y S a s k a t c h e w a n families. In 1992, the special project w a s  closed  d u e to political a n d legal difficulties w h i c h arose in R o m a n i a .  Summary In Saskatchewan during the 1980s, there w a s a diminishing supply o f children, particularly healthy, w h i t e infants, available f o r a d o p t i o n ; at the s a m e time, there w a s increasing demand  from  prospective infant adopters.  Historically, adoptive parents  h a d considerable p o w e r a n d influence to effect or moderate changes in adoption A  an have  policies.  g r o w i n g understanding o f the needs o f birth parents a n d adoptees has shifted  the  balance o f p o w e r and the principal adoption agency, Saskatchewan Social Services,  has  struggled to b r i n g the interests o f all parties into m o r e e q u a l b a l a n c e a n d at the s a m e time, m a i n t a i n its d o m a i n . N u m e r o u s p r o g r a m a n d p o l i c y c h a n g e s w e r e i m p l e m e n t e d t o p r o v i d e greater openness in adoption in establishing services for adult adoptees and birth parents, to reduce barriers to placement o f children with special needs, to encourage birth parents to use agency arranged infant adoptions a n d to provide increased options for adopters.  prospective  T h e s e policy a n d p r o g r a m c h a n g e s increased in f r e q u e n c y d u r i n g the latter part  29  o f the d e c a d e a n d adoptive parents, as well as their social w o r k e r s , w e r e caught in a n environment of rapid change.  Social workers were faced with new demands,  increased  caseload sizes, a n d the b r o a d e r d e m a n d s o f the a g e n c y to support a n d i m p l e m e n t and represent n e w views about adoption.  changes  Adoptive parents were faced with an increased  n u m b e r o f options through w h i c h to adopt, an increased shortage o f infants available for placement, and longer waiting times. A l t h o u g h waiting times w e r e relatively short for a few prospective adopters as those w h o  applied for adoption early in the establishment  of Christian  such  Counselling  Services a n d at the outset o f the special project for a d o p t i o n f r o m R o m a n i a , w a i t i n g t i m e s increased for the majority o f hopeful adopters.  T h e previous assumption that  adoptive  parents should not have lengthy waiting periods between completion o f the homestudy placement appears to have b e e n based u p o n the belief that the process o f socialization the adoptive parent role m a y be eroded by lengthy waits.  and to  T h e n e w reality i n a d o p t i o n is  b a s e d o n t h e b e l i e f that t h e r e is a n e e d t o h a v e a n a d e q u a t e s u p p l y o f a p p r o v e d  resources  in order to encourage birth parent relinquishment through offering placement  choices.  This has resulted in longer waiting times for placement by adoptive parents and increased possibility that a child might never be placed.  the  A d o p t i o n service providers in  S a s k a t c h e w a n n e e d to l o o k carefully at w h a t options, if any, are available for  decreasing  t h e w a i t i n g t i m e s f o r a d o p t e r s . P e r h a p s it m a y b e m o r e i m p o r t a n t f o r a g e n c i e s , t h e i r s o c i a l w o r k staff, as w e l l as a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s u p p o r t g r o u p s , to t a k e a c a r e f u l l o o k at  the  experiences encountered by prospective adopters and find w a y s to provide support during this period.  30  C H A P T E R  T H R E 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 H O O D  Introduction T h e c o u r s e o f h u m a n life i n v o l v e s n e g o t i a t i n g a n u m b e r o f transitions. c o m m o n l y encountered are the transitions  from  Those  most  child to adult, school to w o r k , w o r k  retirement, single to married, childless to parenthood, a n d married to w i d o w h o o d . purpose  o f t h i s c h a p t e r is t o  provide an overview  o f the  to The  process o f transition  to  parenthood and the process of transition to adoptive parenthood. Transitions involve passing  from  one state o f balance to another state o f balance  and m a y require a n u m b e r o f adjustments to changing conditions for individuals within themselves a n d evolving in their environments. shifting balance a n d disequilibrium.  T h e process o f transition b e c o m e s one  A l l transitions involve s o m e stress.  Hopson  of and  A d a m s (in A d a m s , H a y e s a n d H o p s o n , 1977, p. 15) maintain that the severity o f strain e x p e r i e n c e d d u r i n g a p e r i o d o f t r a n s i t i o n is d e t e r m i n e d b y a n u m b e r o f f a c t o r s :  the  b i o p h y s i c a l stress tolerance o f the individual; the n u m b e r o f stressful e v e n t s o p e r a t i n g at o n e time; the i m p o r t a n c e o f the event to the individual; the intensity o f the stress; a n d the duration o f the stress.  S i l v e r m a n (as cited in G o l a n , 1981, p. 12) suggests the  energy  r e q u i r e d t o m a n a g e t r a n s i t i o n is r e l a t e d t o t h e s u d d e n n e s s o f its o n s e t , a n d t h e d e g r e e  of  l o s s o r p e r c e i v e d c h a n g e w h i c h is r e q u i r e d o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l . A n a d d i t i o n a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n is w h e t h e r t h e c h a n g e is t o t a l o r p a r t i a l , t e m p o r a r y o r p e r m a n e n t . Social support n e t w o r k s are widely a c k n o w l e d g e d as important resources  during  life transitions ( U n g e r a n d P o w e l , 1 9 8 0 ; G o l a n , 1 9 8 1 ; G o t t l i e b a n d P a n c e r , 1 9 8 8 ) .  Social  support networks play a significant role in an individual's feelings about themselves their s e n s e o f c o m p e t e n c e i n the m a j o r life roles t h e y o c c u p y o r w i s h to a s s u m e .  31  and  The most  significant m e m b e r s o f a n individual's social n e t w o r k are close friends a n d relatives;  they  m a y offer both psychosocial support a n d practical needs during the course o f a transition. Other members  o f the social network are acquaintances,  w o r k associates and  distant  relatives; these m e m b e r s m a y p r o v i d e information, but generally exert less influence o n the individual's life o r a d j u s t m e n t to transition. G o t t l i e b a n d P a n c e r ( 1 9 8 8 ) s u g g e s t that social networks serve a variety o f supportive functions. shore u p feelings o f self-esteem a n d security.  T h e y offer emotional support  which  A s well, social networks m a y constitute a  reliable alliance a n d provide feedback about the appropriateness o f feelings about self a n d situation. C o g n i t i v e g u i d a n c e i n t h e f o r m o f a d v i c e , c o u n s e l , a n d n o r m a t i v e i n f o r m a t i o n is usually called u p o n f r o m social n e t w o r k s w h e n c o p i n g decisions are being m a d e ; this c a n be provided openly by discussion or covertly by social comparison. be sources o f tangible aid a n d services.  Social networks  may  Perhaps, one o f the most important kinds  of  s u p p o r t o f f e r e d b y s o c i a l n e t w o r k s is c o h e r e n c e s u p p o r t w h i c h c o n d i t i o n s a n i n d i v i d u a l ' s appraisal o f the m e a n i n g a n d significance o f the transition. C o h e r e n c e support also serves to p r o m p t confidence in their ability to withstand environmental turbulence or and maintain confidence in a positive  adversity  outcome.  Transition T o Parenthood B e t w e e n 1957 and 1974, there was considerable attention and study o f parenthood as a crisis.  "The debate generally centered around whether or not becoming a parent  a 'crisis,' w h e t h e r it w a s i n s t e a d a ' n o r m a l crisis,' a n d w h e t h e r t h e c r i s i s a s p e c t s h a d o v e r e m p h a s i z e d ( C o x , 1985, p. 395)."  In 1968, Alice Rossi (1968) wrote  about shifting the focus o f the study o f b e c o m i n g a parent o f an adult developmental  transition.  from  was been  convincingly  a crisis orientation to that  W i t h this shift in f o c u s c a m e a b r o a d e r v i e w  of  p a r e n t h o o d as a social construction a n d e n c o m p a s s e d issues o f the environmental contexts  32  o f w o r k , extended families, friends a n d other sources o f stress o r social support, as well as the impact o n the couple relationship and individual functioning (Cox,  1985).  W h i l e there are a n u m b e r o f variations, such as p l a n n e d a n d u n p l a n n e d  single  parenthood, the premature birth o f a child or the birth o f a child w h o has significant health problems, w h i c h p r o m p t a variety o f stresses in the transition to parenthood, the  following  discussion o f the transition to parenthood will be general in nature and focus primarily o n the initial stages o f the p r o c e s s w h i c h p r o c e e d the crisis o f infertility e n c o u n t e r e d b y  the  majority o f the adoptive parent population. T h e transition to parenthood marks a major developmental milestone in an life; it is t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e a s s u m p t i o n o f a n e w r o l e w i t h n e w t a s k s a n d  adult's  responsibilities  (Matthews & Matthews, 1986; M a z o r , 1979; Salzer, 1986). Research on individual psychological development, studies o n the development o f the marital dyad, and w o r k o n family development are unanimous in viewing the transition to p a r e n t h o o d as a pivotal adult developmental event ( M i c h a e l s a n d G o l d b e r g , 1988, p. 2). There are cultural and family n o r m s and individual personal agendas created to fill the many changing demands of parenthood.  A l l major adult roles have a long history  of  anticipatory training for them (Rossi, 1968). Assumptions toward the parenting role begin early. Preparation for the role o f parent begins d u r i n g c h i l d h o o d as children identify w i t h the significant adults in their lives, their parents a n d the parents o f others (Kirk, LaRossa, 1986; Becker,  1984;  1990).  Motivation T o Parent G. M i c h a e l s (Michaels a n d G o l d b e r g , 1988) reports that early writers motivation for p a r e n t h o o d as innate a n d instinctual.  33  attributed  Psychoanalytic theorists focused  on  unconscious  motives  related  to  psychosexual  internalization o f parental representations.  dynamics,  ego  formation  and  Psychoanalitic writers have postulated that the  desires o f both m e n and w o m e n to have children are rooted in resolution o f the issues o f early childhood.  the  oedipal  M o r e recent theories propose that parenthood motivations  based o n the value o f evolutionary survival a n d genetic lineage.  E g o  are  psychologists  s u g g e s t t h a t m o t i v a t i o n t o p a r e n t s t e m s f r o m s e e i n g t h e c h i l d as a n e x t e n s i o n o f s e l f a n d is narcissistic in nature. expression  Erickson (1963) viewed  o f generativity,  p a r e n t h o o d as motivated b y  an adult stage o f development  primary  w h i c h is c o n c e r n e d  with  establishing and guiding the next generation. Behavioral psychologists behavior.  In 1982,  d e v e l o p e d a values hierarchy m o d e l to predict fertility  C a m p b e l l , T o w n e s , & B e a c h (as cited in M i c h a e l s a n d G o l d b e r g ,  1988, p. 28) f o u n d that the strongest values for having children w e r e associated with  the  parent a n d child relationship - "the o p p o r t u n i t y to establish a close affiliative relationship." For  childless  couples  in their study,  socialization to  expectations were very important motivations expressed the desire to have a  first  the  role o f parent  for having a  first  child.  c h i l d w h i l e still y o u n g as a n i m p o r t a n t  and  Nonparents motivation;  another important value for nonparents was to meet family expectations and affiliation the family o f origin.  family  enhance  In 1975, H o f f m a n a n d H o f f m a n (cited in Michaels  and  G o l d b e r g , 1988, p. 31) further developed the m o d e l o f values-of-having-children in a large international study to predict fertility behavior.  T h e y c a t e g o r i z e d t h e s e v a l u e s as:  status a n d social identity, e x p a n s i o n o f the self, m o r a l v a l u e s , p r i m a r y g r o u p ties affection, stimulation a n d fun, achievement  a n d creativity, p o w e r a n d influence,  adult and social  c o m p a r i s o n , e c o n o m i c utility. T h e y f o u n d that in their N o r t h A m e r i c a n subjects, p r i m a r y g r o u p ties a n d affection, a n d stimulation a n d f u n w e r e the values m o s t highly  endorsed.  E c o n o m i c utility, p o w e r a n d influence a n d m o r a l i t y w e r e rated least important.  Expansion  34  o f the self, a d u l t status a n d social identity, a n d a c h i e v e m e n t a n d creativity fell i n b e t w e e n . T h e y also f o u n d that m e n are m u c h less likely than w o m e n to v i e w h a v i n g children as  an  integral part o f their sex role. T h e literature o n the motivation to b e c o m e a parent presents a variety o f theories and factors for consideration; no motivation.  single,  consistent theory  T h e desire to b e c o m e a parent appears to stem  w h i c h m a y be innate and unconscious.  prevails as the from  dominant  m a n y factors, s o m e  of  T h e values associated with parenthood appear to  be based o n psychological need and are influenced b y cultural a n d social factors.  Decision T o Parent Modern  reproductive and contraceptive  technology  affords most couples  and  individuals greater choice and control over whether or w h e n to b e c o m e parents (Daniels Weingarten, 1982; Michaels & Goldberg, 1988, Daniluk & H e r m a n , 1984; Daly, Changes in attitudes  1988).  and values about parenting afford individuals and couples with  greater sense o f choice.  &  T h i s is p a r t i c u l a r l y t r u e f o r w o m e n w h o m a y e l e c t t o d e l a y  a or  defer parenthood until they have completed their education or established their  careers.  W h i l e societal values a n d attitudes have changed to p r o d u c e greater f r e e d o m for  w o m e n  t o p u r s u e t h e p e r s o n a l a n d e c o n o m i c a d v a n t a g e s o f a c h i l d - f r e e life, 1 9 t h C e n t u r y v a l u e s o f marriage and m o t h e r h o o d continue to influence attitudes w h i c h emphasize bearing a n d raising children as a n integral part o f the female role.  T h e r e is c o n s i d e r a b l e p r e s s u r e  on  w o m e n to consider maternity as necessary for a w o m a n ' s fulfillment as a n individual a n d secure status as a n adult; m e n , o n the other hand, w o r k to secure status (Rossi,  1968).  F o r m o s t c o u p l e s , h o w e v e r , o l d t r a d i t i o n s a n d v a l u e s p r e v a i l a n d m a r r i a g e b r i n g s w i t h it the e x p e c t a t i o n s that c h i l d r e n will b e c o m e the e v e n t u a l n e x t step i n the life o f the f a m i l y (Daly 1988, Kirk, 1964, Covington, 1987).  P a r e n t h o o d is a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a n i m p o r t a n t  35  source o f adult status and social identity (Michaels &  Goldberg,  1988;  Daniluk  and  H e r m a n , 1984; LaRossa, 1986; Rossi, 1986; Antonucci and Mikus, 1988; Mazor, Covington,  1979;  1987).  T h e decision to b e c o m e a parent m a r k s the start o f the c o u r s e o f the transition for most  couples.  It is i n f l u e n c e d b y a n u m b e r o f f a c t o r s : t h e  relationship, personal developmental  goals  and values,  status o f the  anticipation o f the  marriage impact  parenthood, a n d social networks, n o r m s a n d behaviors (Gottleib & Pancer, 1988, p.  244).  Daniels a n d W e i n g a r t e n (1982) report that m o s t couples have "inner scenarios" when  to have  of  children w h i c h p r o m p t their decision-making about parenthood.  of The  o u t c o m e s o f these decisions are m o s t frequently that couples have children sooner or later than they expected transition  or wanted. the  experience  and  may  the ideal and actual timing o f produce  feelings  the  o f frustration  or  disappointment w h e n couples feel they h a v e lost control o f their lives a n d that they  are  "off-time."  complicates  Disparity between  B e i n g out o f step with the times, and with the timing patterns characteristic o f  one's generation a n d subculture, affects the transition to parenthood.  T h e course o f the  pregnancy provides an opportunity for couples to resolve their sense o f timeliness a n d to "accept a n d n u r t u r e the idea o f p a r e n t h o o d (p. 36-37)." T h e decision to b e c o m e  a parent prompts a stage of heightened  anticipatory  s o c i a l i z a t i o n w h i c h o c c u r s at t h e p o i n t o f t h e d e c i s i o n a n d is m o s t p r e d o m i n a n t pregnancy a n d the birth o f a child.  between  S h a p i r o ( 1 9 8 8 ) r e p o r t s t h a t d u r i n g t h i s s t a g e it is  c o m m o n for couples to envision the physical characteristics, talents a n d interests anticipate their child m a y have.  A s well, they c o n t e m p l a t e h o w their lifestyle will  they be  altered a n d begin to think differently about themselves as they anticipate the role o f parent. A n t o n u c c i a n d M i k u s ( 1 9 8 8 ) d e s c r i b e this p e r i o d as o n e i n w h i c h t h e r e is t h e c r e a t i o n an imagined self-image  as parent.  T h e y suggest that individuals w h o  36  have a  of  positive  imagined self-image are m o r e likely to successfully m a n a g e the transition to  parenthood  w h e t h e r it is a p l a n n e d o r u n p l a n n e d e v e n t .  Infertility For most couples, the transition to parenthood involves a process o f  decision-  m a k i n g , p r e g n a n c y , a n t i c i p a t i o n , a n d t h e b i r t h o f a c h i l d w h i c h b r i n g s w i t h it t h e  multiple  tasks o f child care a n d r e o r g a n i z a t i o n o f lifestyle, the marital relationship a n d relationships.  M o s t p e o p l e a s s u m e fertility as a certainty a n d that starting a f a m i l y will b e  a decision they control (Salzer  1986,  Daly,  1988;  Covington,  1987;  Mazor,  M a t t h e w s and Matthews, 1986; Daniels and Weingarten, 1982; Digiulio, 1987; 1983).  other  1979;  Johnston,  F e w couples anticipate difficulty having a baby; if they are unable to conceive  or  carry a baby, a crisis occurs. Infertility is t h e i n a b i l i t y t o a c h i e v e a s u c c e s s f u l p r e g n a n c y a f t e r o n e y e a r o f s e x u a l relations without contraception (Daniels and Weingarten, 1982;  M a z o r , 1979;  Salzer,  1986; Covington, 1987; M a t t h e w s and M a t t h e w s 1986; Johnston, 1983). Estimates o f the prevalence o f infertility are varied f r o m o n e in ten couples to o n e in  five  o r six  (Mazor, 1979; Covington, 1987; Johnston, 1984; Salzer, 1986; M a t t h e w s and 1986).  T h e r e is a g e n e r a l c o n s e n s u s that 5 0 % o f c o u p l e s w h o s e e k m e d i c a l  couples  Matthews, intervention  a n d treatment successfully conceive a n d carry pregnancies to a live birth ( M a z o r , Shapiro, 1988; Johnston, 1984; Fleming and Burry, 1987).  James and Wilson  1979; (1986)  report that o n e in s e v e n couples s e e k m e d i c a l assistance for fertility p r o b l e m s a n d that in  fifteen  one  are infertile. Infertility is a n u n a n t i c i p a t e d crisis i n t h e d e v e l o p m e n t a l life c y c l e o f t h e  ( M a z o r 1979;  Covington, 1987;  Shapiro, 1988;  Becker 1990).  F o r those w h o  family view  r a i s i n g c h i l d r e n as a p r i n c i p l e g o a l o f a d u l t life, infertility h o l d s significant m e a n i n g a n d f a r -  37  r e a c h i n g c o n s e q u e n c e s a n d is c o m p o s e d o f a series o f c r i s e s ( S a l z e r , 1 9 8 6 ; M a z o r ,  1979).  F o r m o s t couples, the inability to c o n c e i v e a n d the c o n c e p t o f infertility e m e r g e s  slowly  over time.  T h e initial r e s p o n s e t o t h e g r o w i n g f a c t o f infertility is d e n i a l a n d  disbelief;  t h e r e f o l l o w s a s e n s e o f h e l p l e s s n e s s at l o s i n g c o n t r o l o v e r o n e ' s life p l a n ( M a z o r 1 9 7 9 ) . M a z o r ( 1 9 7 9 ) s u g g e s t s that there are three phases o f the c o u r s e o f infertility. first  phase begins with a c k n o w l e d g i n g that something  a r o u n d a p e r c e p t i o n o f i n j u r y t o self. d u r i n g this phase.  has gone  wrong  The  and  revolves  M e d i c a l testing a n d treatment actively  pursued  This phase includes a typically intense search for answers to explain the  c a u s e s a n d r e a s o n s f o r the i n t e r r u p t i o n to a couple's life plan. T h e s e c o n d p h a s e o c c u r s w h e n t r e a t m e n t is u n s u c c e s s f u l a n d i n v o l v e s the loss.  mourning  I n f e r t i l i t y is a m u l t i f a c e t e d loss; it e n c o m p a s s e s t h e l o s s e s o f g e n e t i c  continuity,  o f physical a n d biological integrity, o f a jointly conceived child, o f the experience pregnancy  and birth, o f the  mystical goal  o f parent-child b o n d i n g at b i r t h , o f  o p p o r t u n i t y to p a r e n t , a n d o f c o n t r o l o v e r o n e ' s life c o u r s e . with self-esteem, 1987;  self-worth, confidence  Brinich, 1990).  of  and competence  T h e losses encountered  These losses are (Johnston,  in infertile couples  constructed a n d m a y be different for husbands a n d wives.  the  attendant  1983;  Covington,  are  individually  Johnston (1983) says mourning  is r e l i n q u i s h i n g t h e a s s u m p t i o n o f b e c o m i n g p a r e n t s b y c o n f r o n t i n g t h e p a i n f u l reality t h e l o s s a s it is i n d i v i d u a l l y c o n s t r u c t e d , d e a l i n g w i t h t h e p a i n a n d m o v i n g o n t o d e c i s i o n s a b o u t o p t i o n s a n d a l t e r n a t i v e s i n a w a y t h a t is c o n s t r u c t i v e .  of  make  T h e process  of  grieving the losses experienced b y infertility presents a n u m b e r o f u n i q u e difficulties  for  couples.  B e c a u s e their individual construction o f the loss m a y be very different, grieving  m a y cause stress in the marital relationship.  Because  infertility is p r i m a r i l y a l o s s  potential w h i c h m a y include feelings o f failure a n d has sexual connotations, difficult for couples  to talk about with others,  38  leaving them  to  grieve  it is in  of  often  isolation.  J o h n s t o n ( 1 9 8 3 ) suggests that infertile couples tend to w i t h d r a w f r o m others a n d isolate themselves  from  t h e fertile w o r l d a n d t h a t t h i s is a n o r m a t i v e r e s p o n s e w h i c h a s s i s t s t h e m  in dealing with their pain. T h e third phase involves c o m i n g to terms with the outcome, deciding about f u t u r e , a n d g o i n g o n w i t h life.  the  F o r t h o s e couples for w h o m infertility b e c o m e s a fact  of  life, c h o i c e s m u s t b e m a d e a b o u t r e m a i n i n g childless o r p u r s u i n g p a r e n t h o o d t h r o u g h s o m e other means. fertilization  A l t h o u g h artificial insemination, g a m e t e intrafallopian transfer, in and  surrogate  motherhood  are  becoming  more  c o m m o n  vitro  place,  these  alternatives m a y involve considerable expense, l o w rates o f success and social stigma. infertile couples w h o  wish to experience  parenthood, adoption remains the  For  preferred  option.  The  Decision To  Adopt  T h e d e c i s i o n t o a d o p t is n o t a s i n g l e e v e n t , b u t a s e r i e s o f d e c i s i o n s w h i c h m a y m a y not lead to an adoption.  Adopting through an agency requires gathering information  about the possible options for adoption and considering the advantages and o f each, locating an agency that will accept an application,  finding  disadvantages  out h o w to apply and  deciding whether to apply. T h e options available to m o s t prospective adopters are arranged  or independently  or  arranged infant  adoptions,  agency  agency  arranged adoption  of  children with special needs and agency arranged or independently arranged international adoption. limited.  F o r couples wishing to adopt a healthy, majority race infant, the options A g e n c y arranged infant adoptions entail lengthy waiting periods.  are  Independently  arranged infant adoptions require locating a birth parent a n d engaging the services o f a lawyer.  International adoptions almost always entail expenses o f travel to a  country a n d legal costs; s o m e involve c o m p l e x legal requirements.  39  foreign  The adoption  of  children with special needs requires the acceptance  of a child w h o  m a y be older,  of  minority o r m i x e d racial origins, a n d w h o m a y h a v e m e d i c a l o r e m o t i o n a l disabilities. A d o p t i o n is o f t e n r e c o m m e n d e d b y p h y s i c i a n s d u r i n g t e s t i n g a n d t r e a t m e n t  of  fertility p r o b l e m s . F r i e n d s a n d family m a y also s u g g e s t a n d e n c o u r a g e couples to a p p l y to adopt. F o r s o m e w h o take this advice, the adoption application m a y be m a d e as a f o r m "parenthood insurance" should the o u t c o m e o f medical intervention be unsuccessful.  The  a d o p t i o n application m a y also signify the relinquishment o f denial o f infertility a n d initial r e c o g n i t i o n that the role o f genitor m a y b e lost ( H o u g h t o n a n d H o u g h t o n , Daly  1988).  The most  critical hurdle in deciding to  adopt  is n e g o t i a t i n g  of  the 1984;  spousal  d i f f e r e n c e s i n t h e r e a d i n e s s f o r a d o p t i o n ( D a l y , 1 9 8 8 ; B e c k e r , 1 9 9 0 ) . C a l l i n g t h e a g e n c y is the  first  concrete  action in the transition to  adoptive  parenthood.  Whether  made  t e n t a t i v e l y o r n o t , t h e d e c i s i o n t o a d o p t is initially m a d e i n a n e n v i r o n m e n t o f u n c e r t a i n t y of outcome.  The Transition T o Adoptive Parenthood A s identified b y D a v i d K i r k ( 1 9 8 4 ) in his study o f adoptive p a r e n t h o o d , transition to adoptive parenting carries significant differences f r o m those o f parenting.  the  biological  W h i l e t h e b i o l o g i c a l p a r e n t is p r o m p t e d b y p r e g n a n c y t o c o m e t o t e r m s  with  the timing, prepare for the impact a n d to accept a n d nurture the idea o f self as parent, this is d o n e w i t h a r e l a t i v e l y p r e d i c t a b l e t i m e t a b l e .  T h e relative certainty o f the event o f the  e x p e c t e d b i r t h is u s u a l l y s h a r e d w i t h f r i e n d s a n d f a m i l y a n d t h e i r s u p p o r t is  enlisted.  A d o p t i v e parents have n o timetable that assures t h e m o f parenthood, n o r d o they have  the  growing physical evidence o f a pregnancy which prompts them and others to prepare for the event o f parenthood.  Prospective adopters have fewer cohort supports; family  friends are usually unfamiliar with adoption, a n d m a y not be accepting o f the plan.  40  and The  uncertainty o f adoption inhibits a n n o u n c i n g plans to family a n d friends.  Adoptive parent  support groups can be an extremely valuable resource for prospective adopters.  They can  provide guidance, information, emotional and coherence support throughout the  process  o f transition to adoptive parenthood. Biological parents are independent in acquiring a child; they do not need to  seek  a p p r o v a l t o q u a l i f y f o r p a r e n t h o o d ; t h e i r s t a t u s is f u l l y a c c r u e d at t h e b i r t h o f t h e i r c h i l d . Adoptive  parents  parenthood.  are  dependent  upon  intermediary  services  to  arrange  for  their  A d o p t i v e families are f o r m e d out o f a very conscious and deliberate  desire.  T h i s p l a n n e d a s p e c t o f a d o p t i o n c a r r i e s w i t h it b o t h l e g a l a n d t e c h n i c a l r e q u i r e m e n t s generally encountered b y other families: the adoption h o m e s t u d y  process,  not  its r e a l  implied approval, the long wait before placement, the tentativeness o f the  or  supervisory  period, and the finalization in court (Tremitiere and Tremitiere, 1974).  A g e n c y Role In T h e Transition T o Adoptive Parenthood Adoption agencies primarily are responsible for involvement with adoptive during t w o stages o f the transition to adoptive parenthood.  families  D u r i n g the first stage,  the  agency explores with the family their strengths a n d weaknesses a n d their motivations  and  potential to parent an adopted child. D u r i n g the second stage, agencies focus o n the real i m p a c t o f t h e a r r i v a l o f a n a d o p t e d c h i l d , t h e w a y s i n w h i c h t h e f a m i l y is a d j u s t i n g accommodate  a n e w m e m b e r and reestablishing family equilibrium (Reitz and  to  Watson,  1992). Traditionally, a d o p t i o n agencies represented themselves as invested in protecting the best interests o f children and assumed prospective adopters. that  the  adoptive  or assessment role  with  Historically, the p u r p o s e o f the h o m e s t u d y w a s to satisfy the  court  parents  were  "fit  people  41  an investigatory  (Hamm,  1985)."  With  the  growing  understanding of the complexities of adoptive family life and the needs of adopted children, the more recent focus has been on preparing prospective adopters for the tasks of adoptive parenting (Hamm, 1985; Abramczyk and Barbell, 1987; Reitz and Watson, 1992). This more mutual approach requires that the agency and prospective adopters work together to explore their background and parenting potential and the way in which they will be able to accommodate an adopted child. Ideally, the homestudy is a process of education and preparation for adoptive parenting and self-selection. It presents a unique opportunity for social workers to provide a valuable service for families of a supportive and preventative nature. Anticipatory socialization to the role of adoptive parent is a critical component in this process. In theory, this mutual effort reduces the agency's power and authority over prospective adopters; in reality, prospective adopters are very much aware that the agency continues to hold the power to approve or disapprove their adoption request.  Summary The transition to parenthood is widely recognized as an important adult life transition. For infertile couples, the transition is halted by the crisis of infertility.  If  medical intervention is unsuccessful in treating fertility problems, the choices for infertile couples are non-parenthood, parenthood by extreme measures, or by adoption. The transition to adoptive parenthood requires accepting the problem of infertility and coming to terms with the inherent losses. If adoption plans are pursued, couples need to gather information, explore options, and make a series of decisions which may lead to an adoption. Waiting for agency or intermediary services accompany the path to adoptive parenting.  42  Social w o r k e r s can play a vital role in the transition to adoptive  parenthood.  T h o s e in a d o p t i o n agencies are in a position to intervene a n d facilitate the transition. initial p h o n e call, the intake i n t e r v i e w o r a d o p t i o n i n f o r m a t i o n m e e t i n g , the  The  homestudy  process, pre-placement arrangements and follow-up services during probationary period all provide opportunities for social workers to intervene in the transition to parenthood.  W h i l e it is a c k n o w l e d g e d  adoptive  t h a t it is a n a p p r o p r i a t e i n t e r v e n t i o n t o  keep  p r o s p e c t i v e infant a d o p t e r s o n w a i t i n g lists i n f o r m e d a b o u t w a i t i n g times, there has  been  no attention given to the possible needs o f approved and waiting resources and no formal policies for services to this client population.  O n e o f t h e p u r p o s e s o f this s t u d y is  to  explore the needs and determine if social w o r k interventions are appropriate or necessary.  43  C H A P T E R R E S E A R C H  F O U R D E S I G N  T h e b r o a d i s s u e s e l e c t e d f o r r e s e a r c h is t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f w a i t i n g f o r  adoption.  W h e n m e n t i o n e d in the a d o p t i o n literature (see C h a p t e r O n e ) , this aspect o f the p r o c e s s o f b e c o m i n g a n a d o p t i v e p a r e n t is d e s c r i b e d as difficult o r a critical s t a g e , y e t  further  clarification o r expansion o n the d y n a m i c s o f this experience r e m a i n largely unaddressed. R e s e a r c h a d d r e s s i n g w a i t i n g p e r i o d s i n a d o p t i o n is s c a n t .  T h e lack o f research reveals  a  limited k n o w l e d g e base in this area; in the face o f lengthening waiting times in adoption, the issue m a y have increasing significance for adoptive parents as well as agencies  and  social w o r k professionals engaged in adoption practice. My  intent w a s to conduct a n exploratory, qualitative study o f the nature o f  the  w a i t i n g i n the a d o p t i o n p r o c e s s , u s i n g a g r o u n d e d t h e o r y a p p r o a c h , d e f i n e d as:  i n d u c t i v e l y d e r i v e d f r o m t h e s t u d y o f t h e p h e n o m e n o n it r e p r e s e n t s . T h a t is, it is d i s c o v e r e d , d e v e l o p e d , and provisionally verified through systematic data collection and analysis o f data pertaining to that p h e n o m e n o n begins w i t h a n a r e a o f s t u d y a n d w h a t is r e l e v a n t t o t h a t a r e a is allowed to e m e r g e (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 23). T h e q u e s t i o n f o r r e s e a r c h is: This includes, experience?"  "What does  it m e a n  H o w do prospective adopters experience to  them?  and,  " H o w  do  waiting?  they respond  to  In keeping with the nature o f the question and the lack o f previous  research  t o d i r e c t t h e s t u d y , q u a l i t a t i v e m e t h o d o l o g y a p p e a r s t o b e t h e b e s t fit. S t r a u s s a n d (1990) suggest that qualitative m e t h o d s lend themselves naturally to research w h i c h focus u p o n discovery and understanding o f an individual's experience  44  the  Corbin  endeavors with  a  phenomenon.  A qualitative a p p r o a c h allows the investigator to, attempt to phenomenon problem for investigation  Starting from individuals  gain a firsthand holistic understanding of o f interest b y m e a n s o f a flexible strategy o f m u l a t i o n a n d data collection s h a p e d as the proceeds ( R e i d a n d Smith, 1988, p 87).  a broad ecological frame  the  process  approach, the  of waiting.  From  research  a i m is t o  determine  this f r a m e w o r k then,  a  how  grounded  understanding o f the waiting process m a y be established a n d explored with a v i e w to development o f theory, hypotheses, or concepts about strategies for intervention m a y be needed.  the  which  R e i d a n d S m i t h s u g g e s t t h a t w h i l e t h e p u r p o s e o f e x p l o r a t o r y r e s e a r c h is, t o g a i n a n i n i t i a l l o o k a t a p i e c e o f r e a l i t y .. t o s t i m u l a t e i d e a s a b o u t it . . . [ a n d ] ...to l a y t h e g r o u n d w o r k f o r m o r e definitive studies, the products o f exploratory research can be applied to practical problems pending m o r e definitive studies (ibid.).  T h e p u r p o s e o f t h i s s t u d y is t o b u i l d a t h e o r e t i c a l The  findings  framework  and generate  hypotheses.  m a y also be linked to implications for policy, practice or service delivery in  adoption.  Eligibility Criteria T h e population selected for study are parents w h o have had a child placed adoption in their h o m e within the past twelve months or w h o have successfully an adoption study and are waiting for adoption placement.  for  completed  Placement within  twelve  m o n t h s w a s s e l e c t e d t o k e e p t h e d a t a c o l l e c t i o n r e a s o n a b l y c u r r e n t a n d still a l l o w f o r a sufficient sample to be obtained.  Geographical location o f the study w a s limited to  Saskatoon region primarily due to practical considerations o f time a n d travel  45  the  expenses  involved in attempting to d r a w a sample f r o m a larger area.  This limits the population to  those adoptive parents served b y a single regional office o f Saskatchewan Social  Services  as well as Christian C o u n s e l l i n g Services.  Sample The sample was  self-selecting.  A l l participants in the study were  recruited through a brief presentation  o f the study before  Saskatchewan Adoptive Parents Association.  volunteers  a general meeting  of  These meetings are open to the  the  public;  m e m b e r s h i p i n t h e A s s o c i a t i o n is n o t r e q u i r e d f o r a t t e n d a n c e . N i n e adoptive families are represented in the sample. adoptive  mothers  participated in interviews  parents' homes.  two  While  the  invitation to participate expressly indicated a preference for interviews with couples,  two  adoptive fathers declined.  held in the  Seven couples and  O n e was unavailable due to employment demands; the  declined, saying he h a d n o w i s h to revisit experiences r e m e m b e r e d as painful. adoptive families represented  in the  sample,  four had completed  a second  O f  the  adoption  p l a c e m e n t a n d three h a d a first a d o p t i o n p l a c e m e n t w i t h i n the p a s t f o u r to t w e l v e two were waiting for a second placement.  other  months;  All had made an application for adoption with  Saskatchewan Social Services prior to their placement.  Their experiences in  adopting  covered a variety o f programs and adoption methods:  healthy, majority race  infants,  minority  race  infants,  older  children, international  arranged) adoption, and private agency adoption.  adoption,  independent  (privately  In the nine families, there w e r e a total  o f f o u r t e e n a d o p t e d c h i l d r e n at the t i m e o f the interviews.  All couples had  experienced  i m p a i r e d fertility p r i o r to first a p p l y i n g to a d o p t a n d all h a d b e e n childless p r i o r to the first adoption placement.  46  A l l participants h a d s o m e p r e v i o u s a c q u a i n t a n c e w i t h m e ; three h a d b e e n clients at s o m e time prior to June 1989.  N o n e had been involved in a worker-client  relationship  with m e during the 16 months preceding the interview and so h a d been involved another social w o r k e r and/or agency during the most recent placement or adoption O t h e r s w h o h a d not b e e n directly i n v o l v e d as clients, w e r e acquainted w i t h the m e  with study.  through  m y involvement as advisor to the S a s k a t c h e w a n A d o p t i v e Parents Association ( f r o m to  1989).  W h i l e a prior acquaintance,  particularly one  derived from a  1984  professional  relationship, m a y be v i e w e d as potentially biasing the researcher-participant relationship, I a m o f t h e o p i n i o n t h a t it s e r v e d t o e n c o u r a g e p a r t i c i p a t i o n a n d e n h a n c e s e n s i t i v i t y t o  the  study subjects and the data. It w a s h o p e d t o o b t a i n p a r t i c i p a n t s w h o w e r e w a i t i n g f o r a first a d o p t i o n , b u t volunteers in this situation c a m e forward.  no  W h i l e it is i m p o s s i b l e t o b e c e r t a i n o f  the  r e a s o n s for this, a n u m b e r o f possible explanations readily o c c u r : w a i t i n g c o u p l e s m a y  not  h a v e b e e n i n h i g h a t t e n d a n c e w h e n r e c r u i t m e n t w a s d o n e ; it m a y w e l l b e m o r e l i k e l y t h a t participation in the study w a s perceived as posing a potential threat despite promises  of  confidentiality - particularly if the course o f the adoption study h a d b e e n difficult in a n y way. T h i s , t h e n , is p r i m a r i l y a r e t r o s p e c t i v e s t u d y o f w a i t i n g f o r a d o p t i o n .  O f the  two  couples waiting for placement, one couple h a d been notified o f a potential placement  and  w e r e in the midst o f  final  preparations for that event.  b o t h positive a n d negative biases o f recall. intervening events w h i c h pose the  risk  Retrospective studies are subject  Memories, over time, are influenced  o f distortion.  to by  S i m m o n s (1988, p. 294) notes that  with the passage o f time, recall o f past events involving relationships w h i c h are important to a n individual tends to "expand" in m e a n i n g a n d those o f less importance tend  to  " s h r i n k " . R e c a l l is c h a n g e d o r r e f r a m e d b y t i m e a n d n e w e x p e r i e n c e s , y e t c o n t i n u e s t o  be  47  the reality o f the experience for the individual.  O n e couple, whose adoption  placement  w a s a f u l l t w e l v e m o n t h s p r i o r t o t h e i n t e r v i e w , r e a d i l y a d m i t t e d t h a t t h e y o f t e n f o u n d it difficult to r e m e m b e r a time w h e n they didn't have their children. In their case, recall w a s assisted b y r e v i e w i n g a diary the a d o p t i v e m o t h e r h a d started at the b e g i n n i n g o f  the  a d o p t i o n h o m e s t u d y a n d r e f e r r i n g t o it f r o m t i m e t o t i m e d u r i n g t h e i n t e r v i e w . G i v e n the apparent reluctance o f waiting couples to participate, and participation from  c o u p l e s w h o h a d c o m p l e t e d ( o r a l m o s t c o m p l e t e d ) t h e i r a d o p t i o n p l a n s , it a p p e a r s  that willingness to participate in the study m a y have b e e n predicated to s o m e extent considerations or perceptions o f jeopardy to their adoption plans.  T h r o u g h o u t the  by  course  o f t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f t h e s t u d y a n d t h e i n t e r v i e w s t h e m s e l v e s , it b e c a m e e v i d e n t t h a t t h i s t o p i c is o n e w h i c h is h i g h l y c h a r g e d w i t h e m o t i o n .  Preliminary investigation o f the  topic  t h r o u g h conversations with experienced adoptive parents suggested that admission o f the level o f distress experienced while waiting for a placement w a s frequently perceived as  a  potential threat. A s o n e parent said, W h e n y o u r e a c h S o c i a l Services, y o u are at the e n d o f the line; this is y o u r last c h a n c e t o b e c o m e a p a r e n t . Y o u p u t y o u r best f o o t f o r w a r d at all t i m e s f o r fear o f d o i n g a n y t h i n g w h i c h might jeopardize that chance. S u t t o n a n d S c h u r m a n suggest that, "strong e m o t i o n s s h o u l d b e e x p e c t e d to  the  extent that informants are directly queried about threats o f personal disruptions (in B e r g a n d Smith, 1988, p. 337)." Further to that they p r o p o s e that w h e n , .. s t u d y i n g e m o t i o n a l l y h o t t o p i c s .. r e t r o s p e c t i v e r e s e a r c h has distinct strengths. W h e n people are trapped in the t u r m o i l o f . . . [a] p r o f o u n d t r a n s i t i o n , t h e y o f t e n d o n o t h a v e either the time or the inclination to speak with a curious b e h a v i o r a l scientist.... A n d p e r h a p s m o r e i m p o r t a n t , it c a n be unethical or simply rude to invade the privacy o f people w h i l e t h e y are suffering severe distress (p. 343).  48  Participants expressed unhesitating willingness  to participate in interviews  and  appeared to be motivated b y a h o p e that their experiences could be o f potential benefit  to  other adoptive parents. T h e study presented a unique opportunity to be heard o n a subject o f substantial meaning and significance to them.  In s o m e cases, the opportunity appeared  to be v i e w e d as o n e t h r o u g h w h i c h to c o m m u n i c a t e dissatisfaction w i t h the system.  adoption  A willingness to support the field o f a d o p t i o n research w a s expressed as well  t h e v i e w t h a t it w a s a s o m e w h a t e x o t i c o p p o r t u n i t y t o b e i n c l u d e d i n a r e s e a r c h s t u d y . s o m e cases, there appeared to be a search for validation o f their experience a n d the that their issues or concerns w o u l d be c o m m u n i c a t e d to adoption  as In  hopes  professionals.  Data Collection D a t a w a s collected through a series o f single occasion interviews o f approximately t w o hours duration conducted in the participants' homes.  A s all o f the participants w e r e  adoptive parents, interviewing in their h o m e s precluded the need for their m a k i n g child care arrangements.  This also ensured confidentiality, comfort a n d easy access to  accounts o f their experiences.  written  T h e disadvantage o f this location for the interview w a s  that  t h e r e w a s little c o n t r o l o v e r t h e n u m b e r o f i n t e r r u p t i o n s w h i c h c o u l d o c c u r d u r i n g t h e process.  In m o s t cases, this w a s not problematic. Personal interviews w e r e c o n d u c t e d using a n interview guide (see A p p e n d i x D ) .  This  allowed  the  interview  to  be  conducted  conversational in style a n d flexible e n o u g h answers.  in a  relaxed  atmosphere  which  to clarify questions a n d probe for  N o t only do personal interviews offer the capacity for obtaining large  was fuller  amounts  o f i n f o r m a t i o n , this t e c h n i q u e is p a r t i c u l a r l y u s e f u l i n e x p l o r i n g t o p i c s w h i c h a r e  not  previously well-explored or are sensitive in nature ( R e i d a n d Smith, 1988, p. 213).  The  g u i d e a p p r o a c h p r o v i d e s d a t a c o l l e c t i o n t h a t is s y s t e m a t i c w i t h o u t b e i n g  49  fixed  or rigid and  which permits a degree o f spontaneity o f questions.  This approach has the  disadvantages  o f possible omissions o f topics and variances in sequencing which somewhat weakens comparability o f responses (Patton, 1980, p.  the  206).  T h e interviews w e r e r e c o r d e d o n audio-cassette a n d later transcribed.  Following  the interview, notes w e r e recorded in a log o f general impressions o f both the  interview  content as well as the process, including m y perceptions about the preparatory a n d postinterview interactions with the participants.  Transcriptions w e r e c o m p l e t e d as  quickly  after the interview as possible; in m o s t cases, the transcriptions w e r e c o m p l e t e d within five days o f the interview.  T h e interviews took place over the course o f one m o n t h and w e r e  generally g r o u p e d in threes, three pre-test interviews, followed b y three couple and then, the  final  three interviews.  interviews  W h i l e t h i s w a s n o t p l a n n e d , it s e r v e d n i c e l y t o  for transcriptions to be completed, reviewed in groups o f three and general  allow  impressions  r e c o r d e d as a guide to e m e r g i n g topics, issues a n d themes. Conjoint interviews w e r e conducted whenever possible. p a r e n t is a s h a r e d p r o c e s s a n d it s e e m s m o s t perspective o f the couple.  fitting  Becoming an  adoptive  to explore the experience  from  the  Adoptive parents encounter multiple conjoint interviews during  the adoption study process a n d are m o s t familiar with this f o r m o f investigation.  Conjoint  interviews have the potential advantages o f revealing the balance o f partners' perspectives a n d enhancing the reliability o f their c o m m e n t s .  W h e n interviewed together,  tended to p r o m p t o n e another to recall details omitted o r forgotten as well as in perceptions o f events or the passage o f time. b y one another during the interview process.  spouses differences  T h e y also corroborated statements This type o f interview carries the  made risk  individuals avoiding sensitive issues o r k e e p i n g secrets as well as the potential for individual to  dominate  the  interview.  LaRossa and LaRossa (1981)  address  of one  these  p o t e n t i a l d i s a d v a n t a g e s b y s u g g e s t i n g it is u n e t h i c a l t o i n t e r v i e w i n d i v i d u a l s t o o b t a i n t h e i r  50  secret thoughts w h i c h are then published.  T h e y further suggest that skillful interviewing  techniques minimize the d o m i n a n c e o f one partner's account over the other. H a v i n g introduced the study to the participants a n d obtaining their written consent (Consent Form  at A p p e n d i x C ) , e a c h interview w a s initiated b y the request to h e a r their  a d o p t i o n story, b e g i n n i n g at w h a t e v e r p o i n t the participants felt w a s a p p r o p r i a t e .  A s  the  story unfolded, questions o r probes w e r e used to obtain greater detail, clarification o r amplification. A s k i n g for a recounting o f the adoption story p r o m p t e d participants to  look  b a c k over time and recall their experiences with the adoption process a n d provided context for the issue o f waiting.  a  Study participants acknowledged finding recall o f events,  thoughts a n d feelings often c a m e flooding b a c k as they e n g a g e d in telling their story.  Data Analysis Case  files  w e r e constructed which included interview transcripts and case  notes.  E a c h c a s e file w a s r e v i e w e d a n d a n a b s t r a c t w a s w r i t t e n w h i c h c o n s i s t e d o f s i m p l e , f a c t u a l statements o f the  study participants' views.  s u m m a r i z e the abstracts.  A  lengthy  m e m o  was  then written  to  This provided a broad, general description o f the themes  patterns described b y participants' accounts o f the overall adoption process.  and  A s well,  case b y case chronological matrix o f the a d o p t i o n process w a s constructed as another of grouping these themes.  way  T h i s is i n c l u d e d at A p p e n d i x F . T h i s w a s d o n e t o c o n f i r m o r  verify the initial p r e m i s e o f the f o c u s o f the research study a n d the preliminary literature review. time perspective  a  findings  in  the  T h e focus o f the study was then limited to the period  adopters waited between completion  homestudy and selection o f a child for adoption  and approval o f the  of  adoption  placement.  H a v i n g p l a c e d b o u n d a r i e s o n t h e f o c u s o f t h e s t u d y l i m i t i n g it t o o n e s p e c i f i c s t a g e or period in the adoption process, further qualitative analysis was done w h i c h w a s  51  more  rigorous.  This process utilized three concurrent flows o f activity defined b y M i l e s  Huberman  (1984,  pp.  drawing/verification.  21-22) Data  as  data  reduction  reduction,  involved  a  data  display  line-by-line  transcripts and the generation o f categories and codes.  and  analysis  and  conclusionof  interview  T h i s is a p r o c e s s w h i c h b r e a k s t h e  data into pieces and through constant comparison, forces the generation o f codes  and  allows for their conceptualization.  and  D a t a display methods  such as d e n d r o g r a m s  matrices w e r e constructed to assist in organizing the r a w data a n d reaching about coding categories and their relationships. analysis  process to  develop  and  define  relationships as well as to develop  conclusions  M e m o writing was used throughout  coding  categories  and theories  and define the emerging  about  core category.  concurrent activities w e r e u s e d to c o m p a r e a n d contrast the data, arrange the  the their  These categories  into codes, develop a n d establish the relationships b e t w e e n the categories, a n d develop  a  logical chain o f evidence and determine temporal order. During the analysis process the core category e m e r g e s as the central a r o u n d w h i c h all o t h e r c a t e g o r i e s are interrelated.  phenomenon  T h e core category prompts a selective  focus in the definition o f other categories as m u c h as they p r o m p t the e m e r g e n c e selection o f the core  and  category.  Use O f T h e Literature Strauss and Corbin (1990, pp. 50-53) suggest that the literature m a y be put to variety o f uses: to identify previous research in the area o f study; to  establish  b a c k g r o u n d o f a situation a n d stimulate theoretical sensitivity; as s e c o n d a r y sources data; to stimulate questions; literature  review  served  two  a n d as supplementary validation. functions.  It  established  understanding o f the aspect o f waiting for adoption.  52  a  a the of  In this case, the initial gap  in  knowledge  A s well, the literature  and  provided  descriptive hints about the waiting experience a n d information about trends a n d  changes  which have lengthened  heighten  interest in this situation. broadened  to  stimulate  waiting times for adoptive parents. During questions  This served to  data analysis procedures, the literature search about  emerging  patterns  and  themes  and  was as  a  comparative tool to generate hypotheses a n d validate findings.  Ethical Issues Interview participants w e r e p r o m i s e d confidentiality, in so far as neither names, nor any other identifying information w o u l d be included in the research  their report.  T h i s r e q u i r e d r e m o v i n g a g o o d d e a l o f detail f r o m t h e t r a n s c r i p t s a n d is o n e r e a s o n  why  full transcripts o f interviews have not b e e n included in the appendices o f this report.  For  each family interviewed, the process o f a d o p t i o n h a d u n i q u e aspects. A s m u c h as possible, the details unique to these families w a s deleted.  It is p o s s i b l e , h o w e v e r , t h a t m e m b e r s  of  the adoption c o m m u n i t y in Saskatoon w o u l d recognize and be able to identify participants o n the basis o f quotations used, specific concerns expressed. lose important information valuable to the study.  T o delete all w o u l d b e  to  Permission was offered b y most o f the  participants to include any information w h i c h was deemed valuable to the study, including identifying information if necessary.  Nevertheless, caution has been used in reporting.  Reliability A n d Validity I n m y e x p e r i e n c e w i t h a d o p t i v e f a m i l i e s , s t o r y t e l l i n g is a c o m m o n p r a c t i c e . telling their stories to o n e another a n d to their children as the family g r o w s , they m e a n i n g to themselves a n d their experiences.  In p o s i n g the initial interview  In give  promptor,  "Tell m e y o u r adoption story," study participants f o u n d themselves in familiar territory a n d responded to an interested audience.  A s p r e v i o u s l y reported, all the study participants h a d  53  a prior acquaintance with me.  It is p o s s i b l e t h a t i n t e l l i n g t h e i r stories, t h e y m a y  consciously or unconsciously been influenced by previous contact or by the presented to t h e m about the nature o f the study.  information  Self-reports m a y not always be  a n d in a retrospective study such as this one, causal connections m a y have b e e n or influenced by the passage o f time. omitted during the interviews.  have  accurate forgotten  It is p o s s i b l e t h a t i n f o r m a t i o n w a s w i t h h e l d  or  Interview participants were advised both verbally and in  writing that they could refuse to answer any question asked o f t h e m during the preliminary stage o f the interview.  A l t h o u g h no one overtly refused to answer any question, I  aware that there m a y have b e e n omissions m a d e in responses.  a m  If deliberate omissions in  r e s p o n s e s w e r e m a d e b y s o m e o r all o f the s t u d y participants, I a m o f the o p i n i o n that those omissions w e r e important e n o u g h to the participants to be withheld a n d that this deserves respectful  acceptance.  Without a b o d y o f previously developed and researched knowledge u p o n which to base comparisons o f the  findings  o f t h i s s t u d y , it is h a r d t o m a k e f i r m s t a t e m e n t s t o t h e i r  validity.  Limitations Of The  Study  T h e sample o f nine cases represents a very small proportion o f adoptive w h o are served b y one regional office o f Saskatchewan Social Services a n d b y  parents Christian  Counselling Services.  T h e findings represent only the study participants' experiences in  waiting for adoption.  T h e s t u d y s a m p l e is a s m a l l s e l f - s e l e c t e d g r o u p w h i c h l i m i t s  generality o f any  findings.  The  findings  are further limited by the disadvantages o f  reliability o f self-report o f p r i o r events w h i c h m a y b e influenced b y the p a s s a g e o f between the events and the data gathering process.  Interview guides are less  the the time  rigorous  than other forms o f data collection methods and are subject to differences in ordering o f  54  data collection a n d possible omission o f topics.  From the outset, there has been no  to generalize the  findings  While these  cannot be generalized, they m a y be used to guide further study o f the  findings  issue o f waiting.  o f this study to the b r o a d e r population o f adoptive  intent parents.  It is a c k n o w l e d g e d t h a t t h e s t u d y p a r t i c i p a n t s h a d w a i t e d f o r  adoption  during a period o f time w h e n there w e r e a n u m b e r o f significant changes in  adoption  p o l i c y a n d practice as well as at the l o w e b b o f the decline in n u m b e r s o f c h i l d r e n available for adoption.  W i t h o u t a b a s i s f o r c o m p a r i s o n , it is n o t k n o w n w h e t h e r t h i s  environmental context m a d e any significant difference to their  55  experiences.  broader  C H A P T E R  F I V E  P R E S E N T A T I O N  O F F I N D I N G S  Introduction T h e p u r p o s e o f this c h a p t e r is t o p r e s e n t t h e in t w o sections.  The  first  focus  specifically  o f t h e s t u d y a n d is o r g a n i z e d  part provides a description o f the overall process o f a d o p t i o n as  experienced by the study participants. which  findings  on  the  T h e second part presents the  experience  of waiting  findings  during the  o f the  period  study  between  homestudy completion and approval and the selection and placement o f a child.  PART  I: T h e A d o p t i o n P r o c e s s  A lengthy descriptive m e m o o f the themes a n d patterns described b y participants' a c c o u n t s o f t h e o v e r a l l a d o p t i o n p r o c e s s w a s c o m p o s e d f r o m c a s e file a b s t r a c t s a n d a c a s e b y case chronological matrix o f the adoption process was constructed. A p p e n d i x F ; a s u m m a r y m a t r i x is p r e s e n t e d b e l o w at T a b l e 5.1.  T h i s is i n c l u d e d at  This was done to confirm  or verify the initial p r e m i s e o f the focus o f the research study a n d the preliminary literature review. time perspective  findings  in  T h e focus o f the study w a s then limited to the period  adopters waited  between  completion  homestudy and selection o f a child for adoption  56  placement.  and approval o f the  the of  adoption  Table  5.1 C H R O N O L O G I C A L S U M M A R Y  Decision Adopt  to  Application & Waiting List Homestudy Approval Waiting for Selection Selection  O F T H E A D O P T I O N  FirstTime Adopters Indecision/Procrastination/ Spousal Differences Resignation to Waiting/ Ambivalence Making Progress/ Purposefulness Expectation/ Validation Getting Ready/ Uncertainty Waiting Ends  Placement  Deciding T o  P R O C E S S  Second Time Adopters Certainty/ Spousal Agreement Waiting Expected/ Uneventful/ N o Wait for S o m e Moving Ahead/ Wasting Time Expectation Getting Ready/ Uncertainty Waiting Ends/ Unexpected Delays Waiting Ends  Adopt  W a i t i n g f o r a d o p t i o n is o n e a s p e c t o f a n o v e r a l l c o u r s e o f w a i t i n g f o r  parenthood  w h i c h begins prior to the adoption application with the decision to b e c o m e  parents.  During the course o f the married lives o f m a n y o f the study participants, the decision b e c o m e parents centers o n issues o f h o w soon to have children and h o w m a n y to W e always wanted children. [ M y h u s b a n d ] said at o u r w e d d i n g reception w e w o u l d have four children... W e d e c i d e d to w a i t f o r c h i l d r e n , I w a s m a r r i e d at 23. I w a n t e d to start o u r family w h e n I w a s 25 b u t b y then [ m y h u s b a n d ] wanted to wait longer. I decided then I wanted a baby by the time I w a s 30. I reminded [ m y husband] w h e n I reached 2 8 a n d w e b o t h a g r e e d [to start o u r family] then. A n d w e decided w e w a n t e d the baby to be b o r n in June.  57  have.  to  I n t e r r u p t e d b y infertility, t h i s c o u r s e is d e l a y e d w h i l e m e d i c a l a d v i c e , t e s t i n g a n d  treatment  a r e s o u g h t . W h e n this is u n s u c c e s s f u l , a d o p t i o n m a y s e e m t o b e t h e o n l y o p t i o n a v a i l a b l e through w h i c h to achieve parenthood.  This decision prompts the beginning o f a  course, that o f the transition to adoptive parenthood.  T h i s c o u r s e is o f t e n c o n s t r a i n e d  new by  agency demands and requires the successful crossing o f agency boundaries - application registration, w a i t i n g lists, a d o p t i o n s t u d y , a p p r o v a l , w a i t i n g f o r p l a c e m e n t , p l a c e m e n t  and  finalization. T h e decision to apply for adoption required a process o f negotiation s p o u s e s f o r first t i m e a d o p t e r s . F o r m a n y o f t h e s t u d y p a r t i c i p a n t s , t h e  first  between  application for  a d o p t i o n w a s m a d e d u r i n g the c o u r s e o f seeking treatment for infertility; s o m e  delayed  m a k i n g a n application until they h a d reached the conclusion that conceiving or bearing children was not possible for them. I t h i n k o n e t h i n g w a s t h a t w h e n w e first a p p l i e d w e s t i l l h a d h o p e s o f h a v i n g children o f o u r o w n . B u t as the time w e n t o n a n d w e realized that wasn't happening. Well, years, u p to before  w e ' d b e e n m a r r i e d for a b o u t f o u r a n d a half, five a n d w e ' d b e e n t h r o u g h a l o n g wait to start o u r family that point, so in that sense w e w e r e already waiting w e put our names in for adoption.  F o r t h o s e w h o s e a p p l i c a t i o n s w e r e p l a c e d o n w a i t i n g lists, little a t t e n t i o n w a s g i v e n t o adoption plan during that period o f time.  T h e r e w a s a sense o f fairness a n d equity  the in  waiting one's turn for adoption that a c c o m p a n i e d wait-listing a n d for some, this period o f t i m e w a s spent p u r s u i n g further m e d i c a l treatment for infertility. P e r s o n a l l y it w a s n ' t s o m e t h i n g I t h o u g h t a b o u t , y o u k n o w . . . . T h e n there w e r e the letters - oh, yeah, right. It's j u s t a n o t h e r y e a r off, w e ' v e g o t a n o t h e r f o u r to go.... I didn't c o n s i d e r t h a t a w a i t , i t w a s n ' t c l o s e e n o u g h . . . a t first i t didn't really matter. 58  F o r a p p l i c a n t s o n t h e w a i t i n g list f o r h e a l t h y , m a j o r i t y r a c e infants, t h e s e m i - a n n u a l letters were reassuring; they provided an ongoing acknowledgment o f the application.  source  of information and a  continuing  Couples w h o applied for Special A d o p t i o n did not  receive letters, but also e x p r e s s e d a sense o f fairness in waiting; m o s t applicants  for  S p e c i a l A d o p t i o n d i d n o t w a i t at all, b u t r a t h e r w e r e released f o r h o m e s t u d y u p o n m a k i n g an application. A t the opening o f Christian Counselling Services A d o p t i o n Program,  two  o f the study participants applied immediately a n d their applications with this agency  were  a c c e p t e d f o r h o m e s t u d y w i t h o u t a w a i t i n g list p e r i o d .  Other study participants,  who  delayed in a p p r o a c h i n g Christian Counselling Services, discovered that this agency w a s  no  longer accepting applications w h e n they called to express their interest in m a k i n g  an  application with the  agency.  Homestudy T h e adoption homestudy presented an opportunity to actively pursue the plan.  Couples adopting for the  first  adoption  t i m e all f o u n d the a d o p t i o n h o m e s t u d y p r o c e s s  beneficial, informative and a useful, purposeful process.  It a s s i s t e d t h e m i n c l a r i f y i n g t h e i r  decision about parenthood through adoption and gave them a sense o f actively t o w a r d that goal. A c t u a l l y , t h e h o m e s t u d y w a s g r e a t , w e e n j o y e d it, w v e r y g o o d e x p e r i e n c e . . . . I d i d n ' t e n j o y it all, m i n d w a s educational for me, getting into yourself and a b o u t t h i n g s . I n t h a t w a y it w a s g o o d . . . . It w e n t W e d i d i t i n five m o n t h s . F o r m e it m e a n t w e w e r e end o f the tunnel.  finally  59  was  e had a y o u . It thinking b y fast.  o n o u r w a y - the light at the  working  It w a s t h e c h a n c e t o d o . time doing nothing. It something for a few mont a d o p t i o n a n d it g a v e u s a  something. Y o u spend so m u c h gave us a chance to really d o h s that really w a s involved in the boost.  S o m e o f those entering a second adoption study, however, experienced frustration with t h e l e n g t h o f t h e p r o c e s s a n d felt it w a s o f t e n g o i n g t h r o u g h t h e m o t i o n s w i t h o u t t h e  same  sense of purposefulness. It t o o k q u i t e a w h i l e l o n g e r t h a n it s h o u l d h a v e - t h e s e c o n d h o m e s t u d y . A n d o u r s w a s still c u r r e n t , r e a l l y it w a s w i t h i n a t w o y e a r p e r i o d a n d it d i d n ' t f e e l t h a t w e had a c c o m p l i s h e d anything - nothing n e w for us a n d really, nothing n e w for Social Services. I w a s s u r p r i s e d w e h a d t o g o t h r o u g h i t a l l a g a i n .. I d i d n ' t s e e a w h o l e l o t o f r e a s o n .. i t s e e m e d r a t h e r u s e l e s s . . .  Waiting F o r Selection A n d Placement All participants in the study identify the m o s t difficult stage in the transition parenthood by  a d o p t i o n is t h e  period of time between  homestudy  completion  approval, a n d selection for placement or placement o f a child. B u t it w a s w o r s e a f t e r [ t h e h o m e s t u d y ] was finished.  w a s d o n e , a n d it  A n d t h a t w a i t from t h e h o m e s t u d y u n t i l w e g o t a p l a c e m e n t w a s h a r d e r t h a n t h e t h r e e y e a r s p r e v i o u s . . . . It w a s q u i c k a n d yet that w a s the longest p r o b a b l y six m o n t h s o f the w h o l e time because once the homestudy was done, just w a i t i n g f o r t h e p h o n e t o r i n g l i k e y o u j u s t k n e w it c o u l d b e anytime. T h e hardest part started after the h o m e s t u d y w a s d o n e b e c a u s e a l l o f a s u d d e n it r e a l l y c o u l d h a p p e n . B e f o r e t h e n w e r e a l l y d i d n ' t t h i n k m u c h a b o u t it.  60  to and  When you start waiting, that's when you start listening when the phone rings. Is that going to be [our social worker]? Is she going to have some information? The experiences of study participants confirms the suggestions made in the literature as cited in Chapter One. The transition from approval to placement is the focus of this study. Approval marks a critical juncture in the overall process which signifies successfully crossing an agency boundary. Crossing this boundary validates the adoption plan and the couple's desire to become parents. Although approval is required by the agency, it is not a guarantee that a placement will occur. Coping with uncertainty is the central issue for waiting adopters. This is the most compelling theme and pattern which emerged from the data and which was consistently experienced by waiting adopters. It's like playing football on a soccer field with a baseball. We didn't really know what was going on and we had to feel our way through the game. There was never anything definite. I never knew if I was doing the right thing. This period became the focus of the study and will be discussed further in Part II of this chapter.  Selection And Placement Upon hearing the news of a potential placement, adoptive parents move to a new stage in the overall process. This marked the end of waiting for most study participants; for others, the actual placement ended the waiting.  It is, at this point, the couple's  energies become focused to new set of problems and tasks; it is action oriented and time  61  limited.  T h e r e is d i r e c t c o n t a c t initiated b y t h e a g e n c y  information  becomes  more  readily  available.  social w o r k e r and access  Although  some  study  to  participants  experienced unexpected delays or frustrations during the period o f selection o f a child and placement, t h e y all a g r e e d that the w a i t i n g w a s  over.  T h e worst part o f the waiting stops with s e l e c t i o n . . . . N o w it's t h e a n t i c i p a t i o n , t h e e x c i t e m e n t , reality. T h e w o r s t part o f the wait d o e s stop there then m o r e anticipation. Yeah, y o u k n o w a d u e date. T h a t wasn't waiting me. T h e minute w e had the interview and the selection c o n f i r m e d , t o m e t h a t w a s it, it w a s o v e r . O n c e w e w e r e picked, as far as I w a s concerned, w e r e p a r e n t s , it w a s j u s t a q u e s t i o n o f o n e o r t w o w e e k s .  the the it's to was we  Summary T h e initial decision to a d o p t e m e r g e s f r o m the r e c o g n i t i o n o f infertility p r o b l e m s . For  first  time adopters,  spousal differences  making an adoption application. unanimity.  and indecision about adoption m a y  delay  Second time adopters apply with greater certainty  and  F o r a p p l i c a n t s p l a c e d o n w a i t i n g lists, t h e r e is r e s i g n a t i o n t o w a i t i n g p e r i o d s .  T h e homestudy process provides prospective adopters with an opportunity to pursue their plans and to confirm their decision to adopt.  actively  M o s t prospective adopters  find  this a helpful a n d valuable process; s o m e second time adopters find the h o m e s t u d y  less  v a l u a b l e a n d e x p e r i e n c e f r u s t r a t i o n s , f e e l i n g it is w a s t i n g t i m e .  Approval  confirmation a n d validation o f their desires and prompts expectation a n d  brings  agency  hopefulness.  W a i t i n g f o r t h e s e l e c t i o n a n d p l a c e m e n t o f a c h i l d is c o n s i s t e n t l y r e p o r t e d t o b e t h e difficult stage in the overall process o f b e c o m i n g a n adoptive parent.  O n c e selection  been made and placement of a child has been proposed, most prospective adopters the waiting stage as ended.  62  most has view  PART  II: W a i t i n g F o r A d o p t i o n  Introduction H a v i n g reviewed a n d analyzed the interview data to explore the overall course adoption, the waiting period b e c a m e the focus o f m o r e intense and thorough  of  analysis.  T h i s section presents the findings w h i c h resulted f r o m t h o s e efforts. Line b y line analysis o f the data p r o d u c e d the d e v e l o p m e n t  of a number  preliminary codes; the use o f d e n d r o g r a m s assisted in sorting a n d clustering these into categories and subcategories.  codes  In the initial phase o f c o d i n g the interview transcripts, a  variety o f activities p r e d o m i n a t e d the waiting period; these w e r e c o d e d a n d then for similarities a n d differences.  of  T h e similar codes w e r e then listed as a g r o u p to  a c o m m o n element between them.  reviewed determine  F o r example, the f o l l o w i n g initial c o d e s w e r e  together as they a p p e a r e d to have similarity: information seeking,  exercising  listed  restraint,  instrumental action and mobilizing support. This then p r o m p t e d a similar clustering o f the codes, denial, distancing, redefinition fantasy/escape a n d self blame. running through these two  The c o m m o n  clusters o f c o d e s w a s that they w e r e all c o p i n g  thread  strategies  undertaken to reduce the stress o f uncertainty. T h e c o m m o n thread p r o m p t e d the m e r g i n g o f these t w o categories into the category o f C o p i n g . This merging brought the  categories  to a level o f abstraction that maintained the similarities a n d w a s b r o a d e n o u g h to the variety o f actions reported.  A n abridged d e n d r o g r a m data display o f the  include category,  C o p i n g , is i n c l u d e d b e l o w (at F i g u r e 5.1) t o d e m o n s t r a t e t h e c l u s t e r i n g a n d o r d e r i n g o f this c a t e g o r y a n d its s u b c a t e g o r i e s ; a f u l l d a t a d i s p l a y o f this c a t e g o r y c o d e d C o p i n g is provided in A p p e n d i x G .  63  Figure  5.1 A B R I D G E D D E N D R O G R A M D A T A D I S P L A Y C O D I N G F O R T H E C A T E G O R Y C O P I N G  •looked for newsletter stats •talk to other p e o p l e •we contacted [another agency] •we just sat a n d w a i t e d •I t r i e d n o t t o b u g t h e m •set d a t e s f o r p h o n e calls •prepare the nursery -explore other options - cover all the bases possible •applied to private agency - t a l k t o e a c h o t h e r a b o u t it -joined S A P A -talking to spouse or a friend -talk to s o m e o n e w h o ' s experienced the s a m e kind o f thing •nothing w a s happening to me, eh, I thought, w h y worry •I w a s f r u s t r a t e d f o r [ m y w i f e ] not for myself - i f it h a p p e n s , w e ' l l t h i n k a b o u t it •overwork so y o u wouldn't think •I g o t v e r y a n g r y , w i t h [ h u s b a n d ] •doing things just as a routine, in a plodding kind o f fashion. •prepared to accept one child was enough - g o t o [the n u r s e r y ] a n d sit w i t h one o f the teddy bears - l o o k at the b a b y stuff a n d think, s o m e d a y it's g o i n g t o h a p p e n -felt w e failed, w e w e r e n ' t g o o d e n o u g h ; I felt rejected - k n e w it w o u l d b e m y f a u l t  Information Seeking  Exercising Restraint  Problem Focused Coping  Instrumental Action  Mobilizing Support  Denial  Distancing Displacing Redefinition  Escape/ Fantasy  Self blame  64  Emotion Focused Coping  Identifying a n d labeling the p r i m a r y actions as C o p i n g led to the writing o f a series o f m e m o s in the f o r m o f questions and hunches about the causes and conditions related to these activities.  This led to the further clustering a n d coding o f n e w categories.  t h e m e s e m e r g e d f r o m the data during the course o f analysis. Time.  T w o  These were Uncertainty and  T h e y w e r e m e n t i o n e d , d e s c r i b e d a n d referred to repeatedly b y all study participants  and appeared to over-arch the course o f the period o f waiting for adoption. themes, Uncertainty w a s selected as the core category.  O f the  two  W h i l e pursuing the concept  of  T i m e as a core category w a s enticing, the decision w a s m a d e to maintain this t h e m e as dimensional property o f the core categories and subcategories. focus to study and to keep data analysis manageable. selection o f a core  a  This w a s d o n e to limit a n d  Glaser refers to the  necessary  category:  Y e t a n o t h e r d e l i m i t i n g f u n c t i o n o f a c o r e c a t e g o r y is its r e q u i r e m e n t that the analyst f o c u s o n o n e c o r e at a time. T h u s if t w o c o r e categories are discovered (or w o r k e d o n before another emerges) he can choose one b e i n g s u r e o f its r e l e v a n c e - a n d d e m o t e t h e o t h e r b y f i l t e r i n g it i n t o t h e theory as another relevant near core, but not core variable (Glaser, 1978, p. 93). With Uncertainty selected as the core category, other categories b e g a n to take a temporal order and meaningful relationships to one another. d e v e l o p e d to test hunches about these relationships. c a t e g o r y l a b e l e d P r o m p t o r s , it b e c a m e e v i d e n t  from  Process matrices  F o r example,  were  in developing  A Cause and  Effects  Matrix was used to explore the relationship between the category, Promptors, and from  this m a t r i x is d i s p l a y e d b e l o w i n F i g u r e 5.2.  65  the  the data that a variety o f events o c c u r  during the waiting period w h i c h heighten sensitivity to uncertainty.  category, Uncertainty. A excerpt  on  the  Figure  5.2  C A U S E and E F F E C T S M A T R I X P R O M P T O R and U N C E R T A I N T Y of T I M E  U N C E R T A I N T Y  P R O M P T O R daughter's birthday  =  going to a barbecue  =  coming up on a year 6 m o s after h o m e s t u d y daughter kept asking  = = =  Father's D a y Christmas family a s k e d a lot people asking  = = ==  a l l o f a s u d d e n it's 3 y e a r s i f w e w a i t a n y l o n g e r it w i l l b e t o o l a t e c a n ' t h e l p t h i n k i n g i f it w e r e o n l y 3 m o n t h s from now maybe we'd have our son h o w m u c h longer? h o w m u c h longer? don't k n o w what's happening/ h o w m u c h longer? m a y b e next y e a r at this t i m e is it a l m o s t o v e r ? h o w m u c h longer? think h o w m u c h longer  A p a r a d i g m w a s developed to diagram a n d demonstrate the relationships  between  the categories as they related to the c o r e category of Uncertainty. T h i s essentially r e d u c e d the stories o f the participants to a general theoretical abstraction w h i c h w a s  congruent  with the experiences reported and broad enough to allow for individual variation.  The  c o n s t r u c t i o n of this p a r a d i g m r e q u i r e d a p r o c e s s o f explicating the story line, d e v e l o p i n g  a  diagram w h i c h relates the subsidiary categories a r o u n d the core category a n d validating these relationships against the data.  66  Figure  5.3 C O P I N G W I T H U N C E R T A I N T Y P A R A D I G M Waiting for Adoption (Context)  T I M E  The construction o f this p a r a d i g m required determining the dimensions a n d properties the categories and giving t h e m temporal order. a g a i n s t t h e d a t a f o r fit.  A n example  t r a n s c r i p t o f C a s e #9 is p r e s e n t e d  A story line w a s d e v e l o p e d a n d  d r a w n f r o m direct quotes f r o m the  checked interview  below:  Promptor: Plus m y m o t h e r didn't help. E v e r y time she w o u l d talk to me, she w o u l d say, " M a y b e y o u s h o u l d try again. H o w l o n g are y o u g o i n g to wait? M a y b e y o u should see another doctor." Uncertainty: I n e v e r k n e w i f I w a s d o i n g t h e r i g h t t h i n g . It w a s r e a l l y h a r d n o t k n o w i n g where y o u stand, having no idea where y o u are a n d what's going to happen a n d c o u l d it b e t h i s m o n t h o r n o t ?  67  of  Options Appraisal: If I p h o n e d [my social worker], she wouldn't k n o w . Sometimes she c o u l d n ' t e v e n t a l k t o m e , s h e w a s i n a m e e t i n g o r y o u k n o w . It w a s difficult. I w o u l d h a v e to wait a c o u p l e o f d a y s to get t h r o u g h to her. Coping: I started calling [the Central Registry w o r k e r ] . Outcome: S h e really h e l p e d m e ; she w a s a l w a y s reassuring. S o m e h o w I felt I w a s getting there; I figured w e w e r e getting closer. W h e n e v e r I got off the phone, I u s e d to feel so g o o d .  W a i t i n g f o r a d o p t i o n is a s t a t e o f r e a d i n e s s f o r a n e v e n t w h i c h is d e s i r e d , e x p e c t e d a n d as yet unrealized.  U n c e r t a i n t y is t h e c e n t r a l i s s u e f o r w a i t i n g a d o p t e r s .  most compelling theme which emerged  from  the data.  It d o m i n a t e s t h e p r o c e s s  experience o f waiting. Prospective adopters enter the waiting period with the o f a selection a n d placement o f a child.  T h i s is t h e and  expectation  A s t i m e p a s s e s a n d life e v e n t s u n f o l d , t h e y  are  p r o m p t e d to doubting or b e c o m i n g uncertain about w h e n or whether a selection  and  p l a c e m e n t w i l l t a k e p l a c e . T h i s state o f u n c e r t a i n t y is m a n a g e d b y c o n s i d e r i n g o p t i o n s  and  resources  available  and  implementing  coping  strategies.  The  outcomes  behaviors m a y reduce uncertainty and reaffirm expectation or m a y increase  of  coping  uncertainty  a n d require r e n e w e d o r revised c o p i n g efforts.  Expectations Expectations are comprised o f conclusions d r a w n about certainty o f the desire  to  adopt, agency affirmation o f this desire as indicated b y c o m p l e t i o n a n d a p p r o v a l o f the homestudy and an anticipated length o f time.  68  H a v i n g been tested during the  homestudy  and gained the recognition and status o f an a p p r o v e d adoption resource, applicants the waiting period fully expecting  to achieve  their goal.  A t this point,  prospective  adopters have a n expectation that a selection a n d placement will o c c u r a n d they views o f the normal, or typical, anticipated course o f waiting.  enter  develop  Because they cannot  be  certain about w h e n a selection will be made, they endeavor to develop views about  the  length o f the wait.  In developing a schedule for the event o f selection and placement,  t e m p o r a l s t r u c t u r e is i m p o s e d u p o n a s i t u a t i o n w h i c h is u n c e r t a i n .  These time frames  a are  based u p o n their k n o w l e d g e o f w h a t has h a p p e n e d to others in the past, their o w n prior experience  with adoption,  and their perceptions  o f the  current situation  about  the  availability o f children. First time adopters initially tend to rely u p o n their social w o r k e r s for information or predictions about the length o f the wait.  S e c o n d time adopters initially  tend to expect both the course and the length o f the wait to be similar to their prior experience in adopting.  F o r some, conclusions about waiting times are based on  available information and a s o m e w h a t arbitrary schedule. W e k n e w [the a g e n c y social w o r k e r ] c o u l d not predict the waiting. B u t they told us w e are a highly sought a f t e r h o m e . . . . S o I t h o u g h t it w o u l d b e l i k e b e f o r e . W e w e r e going to give the waiting period t w o years. B e c a u s e i f w e g a v e it t w o y e a r s a n d it h a p p e n e d s o o n e r , w e w o u l d b e o k a y a n d i f w e g a v e it s i x m o n t h s a n d it d i d n ' t h a p p e n , t h e n w e ' d h a v e to... .. w e ' d h a v e t o m a k e a d e c i s i o n t o s a y , t h a t ' s i t . W h e n w e said t w o years... W e r e a l l y h o p e d it w o u l d n ' t b e . W e p r o b a b l y d i d n ' t t h i n k it w o u l d b e t w o y e a r s . T h e n w e h a d t w o y e a r s t o w a i t a n d t h a t ' s w i t h i n r e a s o n . I f it d i d n ' t h a p p e n i n a y e a r t h e n w e ' d still h a v e a n o t h e r y e a r t o w a i t s o w e w e r e n ' t g o i n g t o get all w o r r i e d o r anxious... W e didn't w a n t to set u p g o a l s that were unobtainable. T w o years - that's obtainable a n d neither o f u s likes t o set g o a l s w e can't r e a c h . 69  both  Uncertainty For waiting adopters, having n o definite k n o w l e d g e o f w h e n or if a placement  may  occur creates a sense o f uncertainty and renewed perceptions o f the loss o f control  over  their lives w h i c h echoes that experienced U n c e r t a i n t y is a l a c k o f s u r e n e s s  d u r i n g the p r o c e s s o f infertility  about someone or something and has a range  falling short o f certainty to a n almost complete lack o f definite knowledge, about an outcome.  treatment.  T h e need for certainty was  from  especially  expressed:  You have to have something to grasp onto to k n o w still o n t h e list.  you're  A t least y o u will k n o w y o u haven't b e e n forgotten. Y o u need to k n o w where y o u stand. S t u d y participants describe uncertainty as a c o m b i n a t i o n o f doubts, suspicions, fears  and  frustrations.  and  U n c e r t a i n t y f o c u s e d o n t h r e e issues: d o u b t s a b o u t self, a b o u t others,  about time. Self: W e ' d see placements happening. W e ' d k n o w o u r n a m e w a s i n t h e r e . W h y w a s n ' t it u s ? W h a t w a s t h e r e t h a t w a s w r o n g with us? Am  I too old already?  W e w o n d e r e d w h a t there w a s about us. passed over?  W h y are w e  Y o u start trying to find out things that c o u l d b e w r o n g y o u - w h y y o u just don't match.  70  being  with  Others: W e weren't sure that [our social worker] w a s competent, in fact w e really thought she wasn't, but that applies too to the people in the registry w h o are supposed to be m a k i n g matches. I t h i n k t h e w h o l e d o u b t t h i n g is b a s e d o n t h e f a c t s o m e o n e e l s e h a s c o n t r o l o f y o u r life.  that  T h e y ' v e g o t y o u r life i n their h a n d s a n d y o u don't k n o w they k n o w what the hell they're doing.  if  Time: T h e r e w e r e never a n y definites, o r times for anything. K n o w i n g t h a t y o u ' r e a p p r o v e d , b u t . . . h o w l o n g is this g o i n g t o t a k e a n d w h y is m y life o n h o l d ? I n d e f i n i t e l y . A n d I don't k n o w if I'm ever going to get a child. S o m e d a y , it's g o i n g t o h a p p e n s o m e d a y , b u t u n t i l t h a t t h a t s o m e d a y s e e m s l i k e it's n e v e r g o i n g t o h a p p e n .  day,  Infant adopters most frequently experienced uncertainty about themselves they waited for selection and placement. stressful for those w h o  Doubts about themselves were  particularly  h a d applied for o p e n adoption or after Social Services  changes allowed for birth parent selection o f adoptive parents.  while  Uncertainty about  policy others  focused primarily o n social workers and agencies and was experienced most often Special A d o p t i o n adopters.  Uncertainty, which focused  o n the issue o f time,  by was  experienced across the entire sample population.  Promptors A variety o f events p r o m p t uncertainty and particularly heighten awareness o f the passage  of time  during the  waiting  period.  expected  or  unexpected; they include meeting personal deadlines, being asked b y others about  the  71  These  incidents  may  be  adoption plan, receiving information about placement trends, being informed o f  agency  policy changes, hearing about others w h o  family  had received placements,  attending  gatherings, facing the prospect o f a job transfer and celebrating anniversaries and holidays. It's r e a l l y j u s t a w a i t i n g g a m e . . . . S o m e t h i n g s n u d g e it o r b r i n g it c l o s e r t o t h e f o r e - t h e silliest t h i n g s l i k e g o i n g t o a b a r b e c u e a n d o t h e r f a m i l i e s a r e t h e r e a n d y o u t h i n k i f it w a s j u s t t h r e e m o n t h s from n o w m a y b e y o u ' d h a v e y o u r s o n . N o t that y o u aren't h a v i n g fun, y o u are, but y o u can't help thinking... I guess k n o w i n g that you'd been a p p r o v e d and that y o u w e r e still w a i t i n g a n d c o m i n g u p o n a y e a r . It w a s l i k e I'd missed another year o f opportunities. A l l the things w e c o u l d h a v e d o n e this year w e can't d o n o w , w e h a v e to wait tilnext year. That was the hardest period for m e - about a year after the h o m e s t u d y w a s completed. P e o p l e k e p t s a y i n g , w o u l d n ' t it b e n i c e i f y o girl n o w , then they'd be the s a m e age. A n d across the street h a d a girl 2 years ago too. last M a y . I h o p e y o u get y o u r b a b y soon, kept r e m i n d i n g us.  u got your baby then the people She's t w o years you know, they  H o l i d a y s generally associated w i t h children, such as Christmas, w e r e particularly provocative reminders o f the passage o f time and the unmet desire for parenthood. B y far, the m o s t family.  While prospective  frequent  promptors came from questions posed by  adopters  acknowledged  these promptors emerged  genuine c o n c e r n a n d efforts to be supportive, m o s t waiting couples f o u n d feeling desires.  frustration  friends  and out  themselves  and sometimes anger over these constant reminders o f their  unmet  These promptors underscored the passage o f time prompting the applicants  question the process o r themselves as well.  72  of  to  B u t another thing with waiting w a s that y o u always have people asking you, "Have you heard anything." "Well no w e haven't." A n d y o u k i n d o f g e t a little n e g a t i v e e v e n t h o u g h y o u k n o w that t h e y h a v e y o u r best interests at heart. A n d t h e n w h e n t h e y d o a s k y o u , y o u w o n d e r , y e a h , w h a t is happening? A s well, these events m a y serve to p r o m p t a g r o w i n g sense o f isolation or by the  abandonment  agency. After w e did the homestudy, they [social workers] talk to y o u a n y m o r e , y o u don't get letters, nothing.  never  It w a s w o r s e a f t e r [ t h e h o m e s t u d y ] w a s d o n e . It's b e c a u s e t h e n t h e y d r o p y o u . Y o u n e v e r h e a r from t h e m a g a i n , e v e r . N o c o n t a c t a t a l l , it's s o r t o f l i k e y o u d o n ' t e x i s t n o w . T h e s e events serve as reminders o f the passage o f time w h i c h p r o m p t questioning, or  suspicions  and  increasing  strain as  expectation  disappointments  doubts  accumulate  and  resources for maintaining tolerance of uncertainty b e c o m e taxed.  Coping C o p i n g is u s e d  to  manage  feelings o f uncertainty and includes  strategies activated to reduce the strain o f uncertainty. focused  or emotion-focused.  Problem-focused  a variety  These behaviors may be problem-  coping strategies include  information  seeking, taking instrumental action, mobilizing support, o r exercising restraint. problem-focused  coping behaviors,  information seeking  repeatedly employed by waiting adopters.  of  is t h e m o s t  O f all the  consistently  I n f o r m a t i o n s e e k i n g is c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y  and efforts  to obtain k n o w l e d g e about placement trends, availability o f children eligible for adoption and options for alternatives to agency adoption.  It i n c l u d e s c o n t a c t i n g a g e n c y  workers or other adoptive parents and serves the purpose o f meeting a need to  73  social maintain  contact and affirm expectations.  Information was sought primarily by telephone  with prospective adopters' social workers.  contact  S o m e study participants gained information by  t e l e p h o n i n g o t h e r social w o r k e r s at the P r o v i n c i a l A d o p t i o n R e g i s t r y a n d at the N a t i o n a l Adoption D e s k in Ottawa.  T h e Saskatchewan Adoptive Parents Association was  important source of information.  M o s t study participants attended general  another meetings;  those w h o were m e m b e r s o f the organization received monthly newsletters w h i c h usually i n c l u d e d a statistical report o f p l a c e m e n t s m a d e d u r i n g the p r e v i o u s m o n t h . I n s t r u m e n t a l a c t i o n is c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y t a k i n g s t e p s t o g e t r e a d y f o r t h e a r r i v a l o f a child, o r increase the prospects o f a p l a c e m e n t b y m a k i n g c h a n g e s to the initial application or applying to another agency.  Instrumental action serves as a reassurance  of  the  expectation and often provides physical evidence o f m o v i n g ahead with the plan to adopt.  M o v e d to a larger house. D i d n ' t t a k e o u t - o f - t o w n w o r k .. I d i d n ' t w a n t t o m i s s p h o n e call. W e prepared the nursery. T o m e that w a s a t h a t it w a s g o i n g t o h a p p e n .  the  reassurance  W e m a d e sure w e h a d one r o o m in the house that could be easily a n d quickly turned into a nursery. W e contacted [another agency] and registered with them. I always r e a d the n e w s p a p e r for sales; so n o w reading for cribs, w a l k e r s a n d car seats.  I  started  M o b i l i z i n g s u p p o r t is c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y r e a c h i n g o u t t o o t h e r s f o r encouragement or comfort.  reassurance,  It a l s o i n c l u d e s m a i n t a i n i n g o r d e v e l o p i n g r e s o u r c e s f o r  or continued sources of information.  A l t h o u g h agency social workers w e r e sought  74  new for  support by s o m e o f the participants, the primary sources o f support are other  adoptive  parents - particularly those w h o have experienced waiting strain - and spouses. [Our social worker] helped us with out anxiety, cheering o n to stick in there.  us  Just as I w a s at the e n d o f m y r o p e , [other a d o p t i v e parents] w o u l d c o m e a l o n g a n d s a y , " N o , c a l m d o w n , it w i l l h a p p e n e v e n t u a l l y . D o n ' t t h r o w it a l l a w a y , it's b e e n t o o l o n g . ' SAPA w a s really helpful because y o u w e r e able to talk to them about [waiting] - other people w h o have gone through it a n d t h e y e v e n h a d k i d s t o p r o v e it. E x e r c i s i n g restraint is t h e a c t o f s e t t i n g limits o n a c t i o n a n d u t i l i z i n g self-discipline or patience.  It is o f t e n c o m b i n e d w i t h o t h e r t y p e s o f p r o b l e m - f o c u s e d c o p i n g s t r a t e g i e s .  E x e r c i s i n g restraint is m o t i v a t e d b y t h e p e r c e p t i o n that n o t h i n g m o r e c a n b e d o n e or that further action w o u l d prejudice the anticipated  effectively  outcome.  It w a s p a i n f u l t o k n o w w e w o u l d h a v e t o w a i t s o l o n g , b u t w e k n e w t h e r e w a s n o t h i n g w e c o u l d d o a b o u t it. S o w e just sat a n d waited. W e kept in touch with [our workers] but I tried not to them.  bug  If you're phoning, y o u don't want to p h o n e too m a n y times. A n o t h e r t y p e o f c o p i n g b e h a v i o r is e m o t i o n - f o c u s e d .  These behaviors  include  denial, distancing o r displacing, redefinition o f the strain, using fantasy, o r self-blame. some  o f the  effectively  study  participants,  the  cognitive  process  of  emotion-focused  For  coping  r e d u c e d the stain o f uncertainty a n d these behaviors appear to have  been  e m p l o y e d in the face o f a perception that problem-focused coping behaviors have  been  exhausted.  75  Denial w a s m o s t often e m p l o y e d b y m e n w h o reported that this c o p i n g  behavior  h a d b e e n effective in their career transitions. I ' m m o r e p h i l o s o p h i c a l a b o u t it b e c a u s e I d e a l w i t h t h i n g s l i k e t h a t a l l t h e t i m e a t w o r k - t h e w h a t i f s. I f i t h a p p e n s , w e ' l l t h i n k a b o u t it t h e n . N o t h i n g was happening to me. It k i n d o f t a k e s t h e p r e s s u r e off, l i k e y o u w i l l d e a l w i t h it w h e n it c o m e s . In m a n y cases, distancing or displacing the strain o f uncertainty w a s  used.  I w o u l d get into s o m e t h i n g else. I w o u l d just involve time and absorb myself into something else a n d just satisfied w i t h s o m e t h i n g else.  m y be  Y o u h a v e to p u t y o u r e m o t i o n s o n the shelf. You e n d u p d o i n g things just as a routine, a n d in a p l o d d i n g kind o f fashion. I w o u l d . Just, o v e r w o r k so I wouldn't t h i n k a b o u t it. I was frustrated for [ m y wife], I wasn't frustrated for me. W h e n disappointments accumulated and uncertainty increased, redefinition o f escape into fantasy or self-blame w e r e used to help  frame  perceptions a n d strains  uncertainty. I w a s actually prepared that if things got w o r s e to t h a t o n e c h i l d w a s fine. I h a d a c c e p t e d t h a t .  worst  O n c e in awhile I w o u l d g o in there [the nursery] a n d just l o o k a t t h e b a b y s t u f f a n d t h i n k , s o m e d a y , it's g o i n g t o happen someday.  76  expectation, of  I u s e d t o g o u p t o [the n u r s e r y ] a n d sit i n t h e r o c k i n g c h a i r with one o f the teddy bears a n d say we're going to have a baby one day. I felt like w e failed o n all t h e s e o n e s , w e weren't g o o d e n o u g h o r w e w e r e n ' t t h i s o r that. It w a s all e m o t i o n a l at that level. I k n e w i f w e d i d n ' t e v e r g e t a b a b y it w o u l d b e m y f a u l t . It w a s , f o r g e t it, w e ' l l p r o b a b l y n e v e r probably too old already.  get  a baby,  I'm  Options Appraisal Coping  behaviors  employed  are  contingent  upon  an  individual's  subjective  evaluation o f the options available a n d the constraints, limitations, a n d accessibility information or support.  It is a m e a n s o f w e i g h i n g t h e p e r c e i v e d u s e f u l n e s s o r  of  potential  e f f e c t i v e n e s s o f a s t r a t e g y a g a i n s t t h e p o t e n t i a l r i s k s i n v o l v e d i n its i m p l e m e n t a t i o n .  Most  a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s b e l i e v e that, at t i m e s , t h e r e is r e a s o n t o f e a r j e o p a r d i z i n g t h e i r c h a n c e s for adoption a n d this fear p r o m p t s t h e m to carefully assess their options for coping. participants reported there w a s a strong sense o f personal threat if waiting p h o n e d too often, revealed too m u c h anxiety or complained about their social unresponsiveness: Y o u ' r e all o n y o u r o w n o r y o u t h i n k y o u ' r e all o n y o u r o w n and y o u don't want to shake anything u p because y o u might get s o m e b o d y m a d a n d y o u won't get y o u r kid. W e weren't assertive enough - especially about problems e n c o u n t e r e d w i t h o u r s o c i a l w o r k e r . I t h i n k p a r t o f it w a s b e c a u s e w e r e a l l y d i d t h i n k it w o u l d j e o p a r d i z e o u r c h a n c e s . If w e phoned d o w n and said w e wanted another w o r k e r a n d w e t a l k e d a b o u t t h a t a lot. W e t h o u g h t it w o u l d c a u s e m o r e p r o b l e m s t h a n it w a s w o r t h . A n d also if you're  77  Study  applicants worker's  phoning, if y o u phone too m a n y times then the w o r k e r does have some control over what happens. The information,  agency but  s o c i a l w o r k e r is p e r c e i v e d , who  is  difficult  to  reach,  in most too  busy  cases, to  as  having access  respond  to  to  questions,  u n k n o w l e d g e a b l e and/or unsympathetic to concerns expressed about waiting strain.  Even  for those w h o perceived the agency social w o r k e r to be a valuable source o f support and i n f o r m a t i o n , it is b e l i e v e d t h a t c a u t i o n a n d r e s t r a i n t b e e x e r c i s e d  in approaching  the  worker. I feel like m o s t [social w o r k e r s ] are too busy. have time for you.  T h e y didn't  If I p h o n e d [our social w o r k e r ] actually [she] w o u l d n ' t h a v e as m u c h information as I w o u l d . I would have more i n f o r m a t i o n b e c a u s e I w o u l d h a v e t h e S A P A n e w s l e t t e r .. She wouldn't know. A n d sometimes she couldn't even talk to m e or I w o u l d have to wait a couple o f days to get t h r o u g h t o h e r , s h e w a s i n a m e e t i n g o r y o u k n o w - it w a s difficult. She was going to do something, or look something up, and g e t b a c k t o y o u t o d a y o r t o m o r r o w o r s o m e t h i n g , b u t it d i d n ' t h a p p e n f o r t h r e e o r f o u r d a y s , .. o r a t a l l . W h i l e m o s t s t u d y p a r t i c i p a n t s f o u n d t h e i r s o c i a l w o r k e r s l a c k i n g , t h a t is n o t t h e c a s e f o r all. W e k n e w o u r w o r k e r w a s d o i n g h e r b e s t f o r u s . .. A n d I didn't think there w a s anything m o r e y o u could ask o f a n y b o d y . .. W e h a d a b s o l u t e t r u s t , t h e r e w a s n e v e r a problem. .. I imagine that if y o u couldn't trust y o u r w o r k e r completely that that w o u l d really a d d to the stress o f the situation. Y o u h a v e to be able to, y o u h a v e to h a v e some kind of rapport with your worker. W h a t would you d o ? E v e r y t h i n g t h e w o r k e r s a y s , y o u ' d k i n d o f w o n d e r . .. I a l w a y s felt that w h a t e v e r I h a d to say a n d w h a t e v e r I felt  78  w a s v a l i d . .. I d o k n o w t h a t I n e v e r e v e r f e l t w o r r i e d a b o u t s a y i n g h o w I w a s feeling in c a s e I'd b e rejected. T h e a g e n c y itself is v i e w e d t o b e m o r e a c c o u n t a b l e f o r c o n s t r a i n i n g a n d l i m i t i n g access to information. W e didn't h e a r f r o m S o c i a l S e r v i c e s itself, n o t o n a n official basis so that w a s lonely because y o u h a d n o idea o f w h a t t h e y w e r e d o i n g . N o t h i n g t o s a y that y o u ' r e still r e g i s t e r e d . That always bothered me. Social Services shirks their responsibility with waiting families. I think there's an obligation to maintain s o m e kind of contact. Social Services has a responsibility. T h e system m o r e t h a n t h e s o c i a l w o r k e r s is u n r e s p o n s i v e . B e c a u s e it's l i k e a n y o t h e r s y s t e m , t h i n g s g e t b o g g e d d o w n and w o r k e r s don't always get going o n things w h e n they c o u l d . .. W e l l , t h e w o r k e r s a r e t o o o v e r b u r d e n e d a n d t h e y don't h a v e time to listen to every parent a n d that w o u l d just add to their frustration b e c a u s e they can't d o anything about it. S o that w o u l d a d d to their frustration and their w o r k l o a d . I t h i n k t h a t ' s p a r t o f it - t h e w h e e l s g r i n d i n g comfortably along. The  Saskatchewan  Adoptive  Parents  Association  is  a  information for most waiting adopters, particularly for those w h o  valuable  source  of  found access to  the  a g e n c y difficult. T h e g r o u p p r o v i d e d m o n t h l y p l a c e m e n t statistics for b o t h Social and Christian Counselling Services.  Services  A s w e l l , it s e r v e d t o p r o v i d e a c c e s s t o a n e t w o r k  social support o f individuals w h o h a d experience w i t h a d o p t i o n a n d w i t h waiting strain. You get information quicker with them. SAPA was our only source of information. Actually what really helped w a s SAPA. forward to the newsletters every month.  I really  looked  T h e n t h r o u g h S A P A e v e r y m o n t h y o u see the statistics, a n d y o u g o , w h o a a , that's a l o w n u m b e r . . . . B u t t h e n y o u l o o k at  79  of  it a n d y o u s a y t o y o u r s e l f t h a t t h i s is m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n t h a n you're g o i n g to get a n y w h e r e else. A n d then t h r o u g h S A P A y o u d o see couples for w h o m d o e s h a p p e n - a n d it d o e s h a p p e n , t h e r e ' s p r o o f t h a t h a p p e n s . A n d that's e n c o u r a g i n g .  it it  T h e interest o f family a n d friends w a s reported to be a source o f support as well as o f frustration.  A d o p t i v e a p p l i c a n t s f r e q u e n t l y f o u n d it n e c e s s a r y t o e d u c a t e f r i e n d s  family m e m b e r s about the adoption process, process w a s likely to take. from  particularly about the length o f time  In the case o f some Special A d o p t i o n applicants,  and the  responses  family m e m b e r s or friends were guarded f r o m the outset, M o s t didn't understand, thought w e d a m a g e d kids. N o b o d y had adoption.  anything  good  to  were  say  crazy to  about  want  interracial  Outcome S t u d y participants consistently reported that c o p i n g strategies w e r e effective reducing uncertainty while they waited.  W h e n outcomes  of coping behaviors  in were  d e e m e d to be successful, the strategy tended to be repeated during the course o f the wait. I called once a month. She really helped m e because she w a s always reassuring.... W h e n e v e r I got off the phone, I u s e d to feel so g o o d . I don't k n o w what she did but s o m e h o w I felt I w a s getting there. W h a t was helpful was having information and w h e n there w a s nothing new, nothing happening, even that w a s helpful. It w a s h e l p f u l t o c a l l a n d g e t i n f o r m a t i o n - t o g e t a n i d e a o f w h e r e y o u stand. I n e e d e d that.  80  A n d y o u just felt s o m e h o w like y o u are in t o u c h w i t h is h a p p e n i n g . W h e n coping strategies w e r e unsuccessful, uncertainty increased.  what  In one case where  couple actively p u r s u e d alternative resources for adoption such as applying to  the  another  agency and seeking to arrange an independent adoption, these strategies only temporarily lessened uncertainty. W h e n their efforts p r o v e d disappointing, their feelings o f uncertainty increased markedly. It s e e m e d l i k e n o m a t t e r w h e r e w e t u r n e d , o r w h a t w e t r i e d , we were blocked.  The Impact O f Time For waiting adopters, uncertainty arises f r o m perceptions  of doubt about  and/or others p r o m p t e d by events and incidents and by the passage o f time. uncertainty requires individuals waiting for adoption to about time, self or others.  frame  T h e strain o f  or reframe  perceptions  References to time w e r e m a d e frequently b y study participants.  W a i t i n g is a p r o c e s s t h a t o c c u r s o v e r t i m e ; it is b o u n d e d b y t i m e a n d is e x p e r i e n c e d having specific starting a n d ending points.  as  T i m e is a n i n t e g r a l p a r t o f w a i t i n g . N o t o n l y is  it p a r t o f t h e p r o c e s s , it is a l s o a p e r s o n a l c o n s t r u c t i o n w h i c h d e f i n e s , meaning and value.  self  describes,  has  W a i t i n g a d o p t e r s u s e d t i m e t o set the c o n t e x t o f their e x p e r i e n c e s as  they related to past, present a n d future.  E a r l y i n t h e w a i t i n g p e r i o d , t i m e is  segmented  into arbitrary o r i n f o r m e d periods as a w a y to reduce the uncertainty o f w h e n a selection a n d p l a c e m e n t m a y o c c u r . T h i s is a p e r s o n a l c o n s t r u c t i o n o f c o n t e x t ; it i n f o r m s a n d h e l p s to define expectation.  Constructions o f time are also used to define and justify  continued  c o m m i t m e n t to the wait or to justify consideration o f ending the wait b y w i t h d r a w i n g the adoption application. I've w a i t e d t o o l o n g n o w to g i v e u p .  81  B e c a u s e w e ' d w a i t e d t h i s l o n g it s e e m e d l i k e it w o u l d easier to withdraw.  be  Events or incidents w h i c h p r o m p t e d uncertainty w e r e often seen within the context of time and w e r e reminders of the passage of time. T i m e passing b e y o n d expected time m a y be the m o s t critical o f p r o m p t o r s during the  waiting  uncertainty.  period  and  increases  sensitization  to  all o t h e r  events  which  heighten  A l l study participants waited for selection and placement o f a child  l o n g e r t h a n t h e y expected, a n d all m a d e a point o f i n c l u d i n g this in telling their  much stories.  T a b l e 5.2 illustrates their reported e x p e c t e d times a n d the actual a m o u n t o f time  they  waited for selection or placement.  were  I n the instance o f C a s e #5, the a d o p t i n g parents  w a i t i n g at the t i m e o f the interview a n d h a d not yet e x p e r i e n c e d a w a i t i n g t i m e exceeded their expectations.  Table  5.2 C A S E B Y C A S E T A B L E O F W A I T I N G T I M E E X P E C T E D A N D A C T U A L Case # Expected Time First T i m e Infant A d o p t e r s 4 1 year 7 1 year 9 2 years S e c o n d T i m e Infant A d o p t e r s 1 2 years 6 1 year 8 2 months Special Adoption Adopters 2 6-7 months 3 1 year 5 1 year  82  T I M E Actual Time 2 years 3 years 3 years 3 years 3-1/2 years 4 months 9 months 2 years U n k n o w n  which  A bivariate table o f u n c e r t a i n t y b y t i m e w a s c o n s t r u c t e d (at T a b l e 5.3) test the hypothesis that uncertainty increases as the disparity b e t w e e n e x p e c t e d time experienced time  Table  to and  increases.  5.3 B I V A R I A T E T A B L E O F U N C E R T A I N T Y B Y  T I M E  U N C E R T A I N T Y T I M E  E A R L Y  L O W # 4 W e w e r e a p p r o v e d , k n e w it w a s coming; on our way # 7 t i m e t o g e t r e a d y ; n o w it r e a l l y could happen #9 a p p r o v e d , g o i n g a h e a d , first y e a r w a s really easy # 1 k n e w w h a t w a s i n front o f u s ; g a v e it 2 y e a r s # 6 g e t t i n g t h i n g s i n p l a c e ; it c o u l d happen anytime; complacent #8 approved; going to get a kid; really going to h a p p e n #2 reaching m y goal #3 w e d o n ' t h a v e to w o r r y  #7 having a few  doubts  L A T E  #2 y o u expect delays right start  from  the  83  H I G H  #4 h o w m u c h longer? e n d o f m y rope. #9 A m I d o i n g the right thing? h o w long a m I having to wait? no idea where you stand #6 what's going on; h o w m u c h longer? # 8 w h y is t h i s t a k i n g s o l o n g ? h a v e w e been forgotten? every day was hard #3 w e w e r e afraid; totally frustrated; ready to give u p  C a s e #7 a n d C a s e #2 experienced the least a m o u n t o f uncertainty strain. In b o t h o f these cases, the adopters had strong support systems.  In particular they had  positive,  trusting relationships with their agency social workers and perceived they h a d easy access to support a n d information f r o m their social workers.  Their coping behaviors were varied  throughout the waiting period and included seeking information and support from variety o f sources.  a  In both cases, expectations w e r e repeatedly revised in terms o f the  timing o f a possible placement o n the basis o f consultation with the agency social worker. I n c a s e # 7 (first t i m e i n f a n t a d o p t e r s ) , t h e c o u p l e set o u t a list o f t a s k s o r a c h i e v e m e n t s t o c o m p l e t e prior to p l a c e m e n t o f a child a n d w o r k e d steadily to "get ready" for p a r e n t h o o d . T h i s effectively s e g m e n t e d their waiting time into small portions as they m o v e d f r o m  one  list i t e m t o t h e n e x t .  was  I n c a s e #2, a s e c o n d a d o p t i o n , the p r i m a r y c o p i n g b e h a v i o r  s e g m e n t a t i n g time into manageable portions b y arbitrarily setting dates or deadlines  for  acquiring information f r o m the social worker. In other cases, coping strategies changed over time.  Early in the waiting period,  study participants e n g a g e d primarily in exercising restraint and/or forms o f instrumental action  such  as  preparing a  nursery.  W h e n  waiting  times  expectations, they turned m o r e often to information seeking  extended  and mobilizing  T h r e e second time adopters gave consideration to ending waiting strain b y their adoption application.  Spousal differences  became  beyond  their  support.  withdrawing  more predominant for  some  couples as uncertainty strain increased.  The Impact O f Time A n d Perceptions O f Social Support A s  expectation  of time  discrepancies  increased, the need for social support increased.  became  evident  and  uncertainty  This had an impact on perceptions  relationships with spouses, social workers, and other social support systems.  84  strain of  All study participants reported spousal differences in their responses to uncertainty strain.  W i v e s tended to talk m o r e about uncertainty strain a n d to engage in p r o b l e m -  focused c o p i n g strategies m o r e often than their husbands.  While wives were more  vocal  a b o u t u n c e r t a i n t y strain a n d s p o k e o f " b e i n g at the e n d o f m y r o p e , " o r " u n a b l e to t a k e this a n y longer," they w e r e m u c h less likely to give serious consideration to w i t h d r a w a l o f the a d o p t i o n application as a m e a n s o f ending the strain o f waiting. denial a n d distancing m o r e often.  H u s b a n d s tended to  T h e y reported themselves as h a v i n g c o n c l u d e d  use  "nothing  could be done," and were m o r e likely to immerse their time a n d energies in their w o r k i n g lives. W i t h the passage o f time, h u s b a n d s w e r e m o r e likely to e n g a g e in self-blame to  begin  to  consider  uncertainty strain.  withdrawing  the  adoption  application rather than  S e l f - b l a m e c e n t e r e d p r i m a r i l y On  and/or  experience  the issue o f age and the  growing  perception that they c o u l d be considered b y the agency o r b y birth parents as too old to adopt.  F o r first t i m e a d o p t e r s , self-blame b y h u s b a n d s w a s also related to their initial  reluctance to m a k e a n d application for adoption, thereby delaying the entire process. These  differences  p r o m p t e d tensions  between  some  couples  when  u n s u p p o r t e d or u n a c k n o w l e d g e d in their uncertainty or in their efforts to cope. these cases, couples found themselves  wives In most  a d d r e s s i n g t h e t e n s i o n s , t a l k i n g it t h r o u g h ,  reaching a better understanding o f one another.  felt of and  In other cases, wives interpreted their  husbands' denial behavior as a source o f support a n d r e n e w e d certainty, " H e w a s m y rock, m y steadying influence."  T w o c o u p l e s r e p o r t e d they e x p e r i e n c e d uncertainty strain at  different times during the waiting period a n d developed a pattern o f mutual support encouragement. O n e d a y I'd b e really d o w n . . . a n d h e w o u l d say, "That's all right, let's t a l k a b o u t it." A n d t h e n h e w o u l d b e r e a l l y d o w n a n d I'd say, "Let's talk." W e ' d pull e a c h other u p .  85  and  T h e s e c o u p l e s also t e n d e d to p l a n p r o b l e m - f o c u s e d strategies together. M o s t o f the studyparticipants  acknowledged  that  the  differences  they  encountered  while  waiting  adoption w e r e similar to those experienced during their search for diagnosis a n d  for  treatment  o f infertility. Perceptions o f social workers changed  over time for most study  F r o m the start o f the h o m e s t u d y process, o n e c o u p l e ( s e c o n d time adopters)  participants. consistently  f o u n d they could neither trust or rely u p o n their social w o r k e r to provide  accurate  information or to follow through in completing tasks relative to their adoption application. All others reported they had developed and established a g o o d relationship with social w o r k e r d u r i n g the h o m e s t u d y p r o c e s s a n d felt a s t r o n g s e n s e o f trust a n d o n their social w o r k e r for information and support.  their  reliance  This perception was maintained early  i n the w a i t i n g p e r i o d , b u t d i m i n i s h e d as u n c e r t a i n t y i n c r e a s e d f o r all b u t three o f couples.  T h r e e couples f o u n d consistent access, support a n d information f r o m their social  w o r k e r throughout their involvement with the agency.  Others f o u n d their trust o f their  social w o r k e r e r o d e d a n d their perceptions o f their social w o r k e r c h a n g e d as the time extended. was  the  O n e particular point o f frustration, w i t h social w o r k e r s at S o c i a l  that they did not  information was  have  available  information about  from  agency  placements,  the Adoptive Parents Association.  while  waiting Services,  this  Efforts to  same obtain  information a n d support f r o m social w o r k e r s h a d disappointing results a n d led  most  couples to believe that their w o r k e r s did not understand their needs, w e r e not  well  informed, w e r e too busy for t h e m or did not care. The experience  of support from family and  friends  was  varied among  study  participants. M o s t special a d o p t e r s felt their a d o p t i o n p l a n s w e r e n o t h i g h l y s u p p o r t e d o r understood b y their family a n d adoptive parents.  friends  with the exception  of  friends  who  These couples experienced no change over time in these  86  were  also  perceptions.  Infant adopters perceived family a n d friends to lack understanding o f the process  of  a d o p t i o n , b u t initially felt s u p p o r t e d a n d e n c o u r a g e d in their a d o p t i o n plans.  For many,  this perception o f support c h a n g e d over time a n d questions or c o m m e n t s  family and  from  friends b e c a m e painful reminders o f their unrealized desires for adoptive parenthood.  viewed  Contact with m e m b e r s o f the Saskatchewan A d o p t i v e Parents Association  was  b y all study participants as a consistent a n d valuable s o u r c e o f s u p p o r t  and  information w h i c h did not diminish over time, but instead, b e c a m e m o r e important  as  waiting time increased.  Impact Of Policy Changes T w o p r o g r a m p o l i c y c h a n g e s at S o c i a l Services o c c u r r e d d u r i n g the w a i t i n g p e r i o d o f m o s t study participants, o p e n a d o p t i o n a n d the R o m a n i a n initiative. primarily affected infant adopters. options.  These  changes  S p e c i a l a d o p t e r s felt u n a f f e c t e d b y c h a n g e s in o p e n n e s s  T h e s e o p t i o n s w e r e n o t e x t e n d e d to o l d e r c h i l d p l a c e m e n t s at the t i m e t h e y w e r e  waiting a n d they w e r e either in the process o f a special adoption placement or w e r e  not  s o u g h t out as candidates for the R o m a n i a n initiative. All waiting infant adopters w e r e aware o f the possibility o f o p e n placements prior to the implementation o f the change  o f policy.  Some  were already registered  with  Christian Counselling Services A d o p t i o n P r o g r a m and h a d m a d e their decisions  about  open  about  adoption.  openness options.  T h o s e registered with  Social Services w e r e asked to decide  A l l first t i m e a d o p t e r s e l e c t e d t o o p t f o r f u l l - o p e n a d o p t i o n , a g r e e i n g  to  personal contact w i t h birth parents prior to a n d d u r i n g placement o f a child, as well  as  being willing to consider s o m e f o r m o f ongoing contact following the adoption.  All of  these couples reported they h a d given serious consideration to the possible prospect open adoption prior to the policy changes.  of  T w o couples h a d already indicated an interest  87  i n o p e n a d o p t i o n a n d v i e w e d it f a v o r a b l y . traditional, closed adoption.  O n e couple had firmly decided they wished  a  W h e n the policy changes w e r e announced, they had already  experienced considerable waiting strain. T h e y o p t e d for a full-open a d o p t i o n o n the belief .that in not d o i n g so they w o u l d b e closing the d o o r to the prospects o f p a r e n t h o o d . c o u p l e w h o w e r e s e c o n d t i m e infant a d o p t e r s d e c i d e d to o p t f o r all o p e n n e s s except for ongoing contact.  One options  Their decision, too, was based primarily o n their perception  that if they did not agree to openness options, they w o u l d essentially be w i t h d r a w i n g their application for a second  child.  Decisions  for open adoption prompted s o m e  adopters to explore other resources such as Christian C o u n s e l l i n g Services o r to pursue arranging an independent  infant actively  adoption.  T h e c h a n g e at S o c i a l S e r v i c e s to o p e n a d o p t i o n g a v e p a r e n t s a n o p p o r t u n i t y  to  read their h o m e s t u d y reports and p r o m p t e d t h e m to give consideration to h o w they might be viewed b y birth parents.  Changes in the selection methods  increased uncertainty about themselves as they learned about  eventually resulted infant placements  perceived themselves to have been rejected or passed over in the birth parent  in and  selection  process. W h e n  the special initiative for R o m a n i a n a d o p t i o n w a s  announced by  Social  Services, one couple quickly applied. T i m e was the primary factor in their decision;  other  considerations w e r e centered o n a series o f disappointments with other options.  This  c o u p l e v i e w e d international a d o p t i o n as their last chance. period of considerable tension and disagreement  A n o t h e r couple entered into  about whether to p u r s u e this  Their differences r e m a i n e d unresolved as a selection o c c u r r e d prior to their about international adoption.  final  option. decision  B o t h couples v i e w e d this as a last c h a n c e effort to secure  second child by adoption.  88  a  a  Summary P r o s p e c t i v e a d o p t e r s enter the w a i t i n g s t a g e at the p o i n t at w h i c h their has been completed and approved.  homestudy  Initially, t h e y experience h o p e f u l n e s s a n d  certainty about the o u t c o m e o f their adoption application.  relative  Uncertain about w h e n a child  will be selected and placed for adoption with them, they gather information u p o n w h i c h to d e v e l o p e x p e c t a t i o n s a b o u t t h e l e n g t h o f t h e w a i t i n g p e r i o d . E a r l y w a i t i n g u n c e r t a i n t y is m a n a g e d primarily b y exercising restraint a n d m a k i n g preparations for the arrival o f a child by  planning or preparing a nursery.  A s  the  waiting  expectations are unmet, uncertainty strain increases.  period lengthens and  timing  Information seeking and mobilizing  support or denial a n d distancing are the primary c o p i n g strategies during the late stage o f waiting.  It is d u r i n g t h i s t i m e t h a t p r o s p e c t i v e a d o p t e r s ' s e n s i t i v i t y t o p r o m p t o r s  of  uncertainty heightens, efforts to seek information are disappointing, a n d uncertainty  may  b e c o m e m o r e f o c u s e d o n w h e t h e r t h e a d o p t i o n w i l l t a k e p l a c e t h a n o n w h e n it w i l l o c c u r . C o p i n g w i t h u n c e r t a i n t y is t h e c e n t r a l i s s u e f o r w a i t i n g a d o p t e r s .  T h i s p r o c e s s is  one in w h i c h p r o m p t o r s o f uncertainty arise out o f events w h i c h are seemingly harmless  to  outsiders a n d w h i c h heighten sensitivity to time a n d to the u n m e t desires for parenthood. C o p i n g strategies for m a n a g i n g uncertainty strain are appraised a n d employed.  The  outcomes o f coping behaviors m a y reduce uncertainty and reaffirm expectation or  may  increase uncertainty a n d require r e n e w e d o r revised c o p i n g efforts. Discrepancies between expected time and experienced time are a key  determinate  o f uncertainty strain. S t u d y participants w h o experienced the least a m o u n t o f uncertainty strain, consistently  and repeatedly  revised their timing expectations o n the basis  of  T h e p u r p o s e o f c o p i n g is t o r e d u c e t h e s t r e s s o f a s i t u a t i o n w h i c h is p e r c e i v e d  to  information search.  be largely unamenable to change.  W h i l e s o m e adopters did m a k e efforts to change  89  their  situation b y seeking n e w a v e n u e s o f a d o p t i o n such as international adoption, c h a n g i n g open adoption options, applying to another agency or actively seeking an placement,  these efforts w e r e m a d e  successful.  among  independent  late in the waiting period a n d w e r e not  always  S o m e considered withdrawing the adoption application in order to end  uncertainty, but there was  considerable reluctance to take this step a n d  to  the  disagreement  spouses. All study participants acknowledged spousal differences in coping strategies w h i c h  m a y be gender related. M e n tended to a v o i d uncertainty strain; w o m e n tended to problem-focused c o p i n g strategies.  Perceptions o f the availability o f social support tends  to erode over time for waiting adopters w h o information  and  support.  employ  Friends and  experience  family members  frustrated efforts to are usually  found  obtain to  lack  understanding o f waiting strain a n d social w o r k e r s are f o u n d to be not  well-informed.  Spousal support and other adoptive parents are the primary resources  for  support.  T h e Adoptive Parents Association plays a major role in providing an  source of information.  90  emotional ongoing  C H A P T E R D I S C U S S I O N O F  S I X F I N D I N G S  Introduction Waiting times in adoption have increased steadily over the past decade.  W h i l e the  a d o p t i o n literature reveals a consistent t h e m e o f waiting as stressful, this aspect o f  the  adoption process has not been the subject o f research.  the  In the search to corroborate  findings o f this study, efforts b e c a m e directed to fields outside adoption.  Time W h i l e waiting times varied greatly for study participants, the experience o f waiting, the stresses encountered a n d the efforts to m a n a g e w e r e largely congruent.  While a  physical time perspective does not appear to be a key determinant in the experience waiting, asocial time perspective m a y provide am o r e appropriate view.  LaRossa (1983)  defines the properties o f physical time as quantitative, continuous, h o m o g e n e o u s , objective; a n d social time as qualitative, discontinuous, heterogeneous, a n d (p. 580).  and  subjective  A social time perspective can result in physically equal segments o f time  socially unequal or the reverse, o f physically unequal segments o f time being equivalent. "clock time."  Lauer (as cited in McGrath,  1988,  p. 27) distinguishes  being socially  "social time"  from  C l o c k t i m e is d e f i n e d as a n e x t e r n a l , n o n s o c i a l r e f e r e n t ; s o c i a l t i m e , o n  o t h e r h a n d , is r e l a t e d t o p a t t e r n s a n d o r i e n t a t i o n s o f s o c i a l p r o c e s s e s .  of  "Social time  the  grows  o u t o f s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s a n d b e h a v i o r a n d is i n f l u e n c e d b y t h e histories, feelings, beliefs,  and  desires o f p e o p l e (ibid.)." A l d o u s ( 1 9 7 8 ) describes "social clocks" as individual constructs which prescribe proper time sequences and age appropriate behaviors.  She writes,  " M e n  a n d w o m e n k n o w w h e t h e r t h e y are early, late, o r o n t i m e w i t h the social t i m e t a b l e s  91  of  o c c u p a t i o n a l a n d family careers (p. 102)." N e u g a r t e n (in Carter a n d McGoldrick,  1980,  p.  5) r e p o r t s that life c y c l e e v e n t s w h i c h o c c u r " o f f t i m e " a r e m o r e likely to b e t r a u m a t i c t h a n those w h i c h are anticipated and o n time.  Pearlin (1991, p. 332) writes, "an event  anticipated and prepared for under usual circumstances, can, under unusual  easily  circumstances  o f time and meaning, b e c o m e cloaked in uncertainty and doubt." For  most  couples,  the  transition to  parenthood  is a r e l a t i v e l y  short  course  b e g i n n i n g w i t h the d e c i s i o n to c o n c e i v e o r the d i s c o v e r y o f a p r e g n a n c y a n d e n d i n g at the birth o f a child.  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 h o o d is a t t e n u a t e d b y t h e d i s c o v e r y  infertility, resolution o f infertility losses, a n d the decision to adopt.  Prospective  of  adopters  w h o have successfully completed a h o m e s t u d y and gained agency approval o f their desire to adopt, enter the waiting period late in the course o f their family careers.  A s they wait  e x p e c t a n t l y , t h e y f i n d t h e m s e l v e s o n a t i m e t r a c k w h i c h is i n c r e a s i n g l y l o n g , u n c e r t a i n a n d o n e o v e r w h i c h t h e y h a v e little o r n o c o n t r o l . Lyman  a n d Scott (in L a R o s s a , 1983) define time tracks as "direction-giving tracks  o f m e a n i n g u p o n w h i c h h u m a n s t r a v e l t h r o u g h life, t i m e s e g m e n t s w h i c h a r e c o n s t r u c t e d .. t o m a r k t h e b e g i n n i n g o r e n d o f t h i n g s ( p . 5 8 5 ) . " tracks m a y be viewed  as within one's control (humanistic)  socially  T h e y maintain that or outside one's  time  control  (fatalistic) a n d that t h e y m a y b e l o n g - t e r m o r short-term. L o n g - t e r m t i m e tracks h a v e property o f being slow and sometimes plodding while short-term time tracks are m o r e intense and largely fatalistic.  frantic A s  increasingly stressful.  in pace. it p r o g r e s s e s ,  the often  T h e t i m e t r a c k o f w a i t i n g a d o p t e r s is o n e w h i c h it t a k e s  on  a lingering quality which  becomes  W a i t i n g adopters lose their sense o f m o t i o n through time;  e x p e r i e n c e a s e n s e o f b e i n g derailed, left b e h i n d , a n d u n a b l e to m o v e f o r w a r d .  is  they  Waiting  s t r e s s is d e p e n d e n t u p o n e x p e c t a t i o n s , t h e v a l u e a n d c o m m i t m e n t t o t h e p l a n f o r a d o p t i o n and the meaning o f time.  F o r w a i t i n g a d o p t e r s , t i m e is n o t m e a s u r e d s o m u c h i n d a y s ,  92  w e e k s , o r m o n t h s a s it is a c u m u l a t i v e p a s s a g e o f e v e n t s a n d n o n - e v e n t s w h i c h p r o m p t a heightened sense o f time and uncertainty.  U n c e r t a i n t y a n d loss o f c o n t r o l o v e r their life  course cause stress for couples w h o wait for adoption. T h i s experience e c h o e s that o f infertile couples w h o feel caught o n a treadmill o f t e s t i n g a n d t r e a t m e n t w h i c h is u n s u c c e s s f u l  (Houghton and Houghton, 1984).  Being  infertile in a fertile w o r l d heightens sensitivity to the passage o f t i m e as a childless  couple.  Salzer (1986) reports that distressing reminders o c c u r frequently w h e n couples' announce  pregnancies,  host baby showers,  or when  questions, and offer advice and u n w e l c o m e comments.  family and friends ask  peers  intrusive  She also reports that holidays  such  a s H a l l o w e e n o r C h r i s t m a s w h e r e t h e r e is a n e m p h a s i s o n c h i l d r e n , p r o m p t c o u p l e s t o  take  s t o c k a n d u s u a l l y f i n d t h e m s e l v e s f e e l i n g that t i m e is p a s s i n g t h e m b y . T h e n o n - e v e n t o f a p r e g n a n c y serves as a continuous m o n t h l y r e m i n d e r o f u n m e t  desires.  For waiting adopters, p r o m p t o r s similar to those experienced  d u r i n g infertility  testing and treatment, heighten the awareness o f time. N o longer waiting for a pregnancy, time stretches o n a n d on. C o u p l e s also b e c o m e a w a r e o f non-events d u r i n g this p e r i o d as they await contact  from  their social w o r k e r a n d this d o e s not h a p p e n .  Stress a n d C o p i n g Richard Lazarus' (Monat and Lazarus,  1991;  Brodzinsky, 1990;  Boss,  1988)  transactional m o d e l o f stress a n d c o p i n g defines the m a n a g e m e n t o f stressful events as cognitive-phenomenological strategies  and social context.  stressful a situation will be. resources  process  which  cognitive  appraisal,  coping  Individual appraisals play a key role in defining Perceptions o f b o t h the stressfulness  for coping ultimately define the  appraisal in two forms.  incorporates  stress.  This model  o f the event  emphasizes  how and  cognitive  P r i m a r y a p p r a i s a l is t h e i n d i v i d u a l a s s e s s m e n t o f t h e l e v e l  93  a  of  personal harm, loss, or threat to well-being o f a situation or event.  S e c o n d a r y a p p r a i s a l is  individual assessment about w h a t can effectively be d o n e in response to the perception threat.  of  T h i s is a p r o c e s s o f c o n s i d e r i n g a n d m a k i n g j u d g m e n t s a b o u t t w o f o r m s o f c o p i n g  strategies,  problem-focused  and  emotion-focused.  Problem-focused  strategies  directed primarily o u t w a r d to m a n a g e or change the stressful situation; these m a y also be directed i n w a r d to alter motivations, beliefs or aspirations. strategies are e m p l o y e d to m a n a g e mechanisms.  Appraisal  and  are  highly  influenced  by  strategies  Emotion-focused  emotional responses and direct individual  coping  are  individual  defense values,  commitments, goals, a n d personal beliefs about self-esteem, mastery, sense o f control a n d interpersonal trust as well as e n v i r o n m e n t a l d e m a n d s , ( B r o d z i n s k y , 1990, p. 6).  constraints and social  support  Roskies (1991) reports that individual appraisal that a  stressful  situation exists initiates a c o m p l e x  process:  I m m e d i a t e l y t h e r e is a n e f f o r t t o r e d u c e t h e f e e l i n g s o f disturbance, b y seeking to change either the situation, the p e r s o n ' s r e a c t i o n s t o i t Or b o t h . T h i s c o p i n g e f f o r t a n d i t s c o n s e q u e n c e s will itself c h a n g e the person's appraisal o f the situation, w h i c h in turn, will itself alter the s u b s e q u e n t r e s p o n s e , a n d s o o n . T h u s , stress is n o t a fixed personenvironment relationship but an evolving process, involving multiple appraisals a n d reappraisals (p. 419). F o l k m a n a n d L a z a r u s ( 1 9 9 1 ) m a i n t a i n t h a t e f f e c t i v e c o p i n g is i n f l u e n c e d b y t h e t e m p o r a l ordering o f c o p i n g strategies.  I n i t i a l l y , it m a y  not be k n o w n  if stressful  situations  t h e m s e l v e s c a n b e c h a n g e d ; it m a y b e m o r e e f f e c t i v e t o e m p l o y p r o b l e m - f o c u s e d c o p i n g t o determine realistic options for coping. If avoidant or denial-like processes are called into play prematurely, they can interfere with the information search a n d thereby prevent realistic appraisal o f the options for coping. Denial-like coping, distancing and positive reappraisal are likely to be useful w h e n they follow an  94  i n f o r m a t i o n s e a r c h t h a t r e v e a l s a n o u t c o m e is n o t to c h a n g e (p. 225). Singer a n d D a v i d s o n (1991, p. 45)  amenable  report the key variables in the intensity o f  the  experience o f stress are predictability a n d perception o f personal control. T h e Lazarus model provides useful categories for understanding the factors influence stress responses.  that  T h e m o d e l does, h o w e v e r , p o s e s o m e difficulties in attempting  to reconstruct appraisal processes a p p r a i s a l is o f t e n a c o n s c i o u s  in the study o f stress a n d coping.  While  d e l i b e r a t i o n , it c a n a l s o b e u n c o n s c i o u s  or  cognitive impulsive.  Cognitions are an inferential variable a n d there are limits to the certainty with w h i c h c a n determine the particular thoughts a person has.  one  S e l f - r e p o r t is t h e p r i m a r y s o u r c e  d a t a a n d w h i l e t h i s is u s e f u l it m a y n o t a l w a y s b e a c c u r a t e .  T h e extent to w h i c h  values  a n d beliefs influence appraisals m a y not be entirely conscious o r m a y not be easily clearly reported.  of  or  T h e g r o w i n g b o d y o f research in behavioral-cognitive models o f stress  a n d coping, h o w e v e r , give s o m e substance a n d validity to this a p p r o a c h .  Uncertainty R o s e W e i t z ( 1 9 9 1 ) r e p o r t s u n c e r t a i n t y is a c o n s i s t e n t t h e m e a n d m a j o r s o u r c e s t r e s s f o u n d i n s t u d i e s o f t h e l i v e s o f p e r s o n s w h o a r e c h r o n i c a l l y o r t e r m i n a l l y ill.  of She  writes: F e w people tolerate uncertainty well. M o s t seek w a y s to r e d u c e it; i f t h a t is n o t p o s s i b l e , t o c o p e w i t h it ( p . 3 5 2 ) . In her study o f the stress encountered b y persons living with AIDS,  Weitz found  the  central stressor w a s that o f uncertainty a n d w a s associated with loss o f control.  She  reports t w o basic c o p i n g strategies w e r e e m p l o y e d to m a n a g e uncertainty: vigilance  and  avoidance.  was  Vigilance was composed of seeking information and support; avoidance  denial-like behavior employed  as  self-protection  95  from  distressing  knowledge.  Both  strategies w e r e focused t o w a r d the c o m m o n goal o f the development f r a m e w o r k to bring m e a n i n g a n d predictability to the situation.  of a  normative  C o p i n g strategies  were  e m p l o y e d to find a logical explanation for the situation and to achieve a sense o f control in order to tolerate uncertainty. T h e s e f r a m e w o r k s m a k e their situations comprehensible; for some, c o m b i n e d with contingency plans, they helped individuals to gain control or a sense o f control over their lives. In other situations w h e r e uncertainty w a s u n a v o i d a b l e or preferable to certainty, these f r a m e w o r k s enable people to reduce the stresses o f living with uncertainty (Weitz, 1991, p. 367). For  waiting  adopters,  the  c e n t r a l i s s u e is u n c e r t a i n t y a n d  coping  strategies,  primarily information search and support or denial-like behaviors, are similar to found by Weitz.  Waiting adopters also experience  c o n t r o l o v e r their lives o r life g o a l s .  those  a sense o f loss o f a u t o n o m y  and  T h i s l o s s is o r i g i n a l l y f a c e d i n t h e e a r l y p u r s u i t  p a r e n t h o o d w h e n infertility is d i s c o v e r e d .  of  In deciding to adopt, couples also revisit  loss o f a u t o n o m y in needing to rely u p o n others to obtain the role o f parent.  the  However,  u n l i k e c h r o n i c a l l y o r t e r m i n a l l y ill p e r s o n s , p r o s p e c t i v e a d o p t e r s h a v e d e l i b e r a t e l y c h o s e n situation o v e r w h i c h they feel they h a v e n o control.  T h e y do have the option to end  a the  strain o f uncertainty b y m a k i n g the decision to w i t h d r a w their adoption application a n d to not adopt.  S e c o n d time adopters w e r e m o r e likely to consider this option than  first  time  adopters a n d husbands w e r e m o r e likely than w i v e s to entertain thoughts o f taking this action to bring a n e n d to the strain. O n e explanation for gender differences in the continued c o m m i t m e n t to the pursuit o f adoptive parenthood despite uncertainty strain m a y be inferred infertility a n d adoption. childlessness than men.  Kirk (1984) found w o m e n  from  the literature  felt m o r e d e p r i v e d b y  M e n appeared to be m o r e readily compensated b y  96  on  involuntary occupational  activity. D a l y ( 1 9 8 9 ) f o u n d a m o n g infertile c o u p l e s , w i v e s m o r e often t h e n h u s b a n d s , felt less in c o n t r o l o f their lives. for w o m e n than for men.  H e related this to the greater salience o f the p a r e n t h o o d role Others, M a z o r (1984), Rossi (1968), Antonucci and M i k u s  (1988), report continuing pronatalist cultural n o r m s for w o m e n to achieve full adult status through motherhood.  T h e r e m a y well be other beliefs a n d values w h i c h influenced  w o m e n  to be less likely to consider w i t h d r a w a l o f the adoption application.  Expectation Discrepancies C o y n e a n d L a z a r u s (1980) define stress as resulting f r o m the cognitive appraisal o f a s i t u a t i o n o r e v e n t i n w h i c h h a r m , l o s s o r t h r e a t is p e r c e i v e d .  T h e y further define  harm  and loss to refer to d a m a g i n g events w h i c h have already taken place and constitute losses o f relationships, role, health or self-esteem.  Threat refers to h a r m or loss w h i c h  is  anticipated. In their study o f stress, c o p i n g skills a n d a d a p t a t i o n a m o n g n e w l y recruited military personnel, N o v a c o , C o o k a n d Sarason (1983) f o u n d that expectations w e r e k e y o f stress.  W h e n experiences were discrepant  stressful disorientation occurred.  from  expectations,  Reappraisal of expectation  mediators  disequilibrium  and social support  p r i m a r y factors in adjustment a n d r e d u c t i o n o f stress. In his study o f bereavement,  and were  Parkes  ( 1 9 7 1 ) p o s t u l a t e s that d i s c r e p a n c i e s i n life e x p e r i e n c e s a n d e x p e c t a t i o n s r e q u i r e c h a n g e s i n v i e w s a n d belief systems w h i c h m a y include c h a n g e s in interpretations o f past, present  and  future. Early in the waiting period, adopters experience uncertainty about the timing o f a selection and placement. timetable expectation.  T h i s is m a n a g e d b y i n f o r m a t i o n s e a r c h a n d t h e c r e a t i o n o f  a  W a i t i n g is t h e n t y p i c a l l y m a n a g e d b y p r o b l e m - f o c u s e d activities i n  preparations for placement o r exercising restraint.  97  T h e primary perception of uncertainty  focuses o n w h e n an adoption will take place.  W h e n expectation discrepancies occur,  strain o f uncertainty increases and the perception o f threat to the adoption plan m o r e difficult to manage. made.  the  becomes  I m p l i c i t i n this t h r e a t is t h e f e a r t h a t a s e l e c t i o n m a y n e v e r  be  First time adopters, especially, ultimately fear the prospect o f childlessness.  Birth  parent selection policies further mystified the external w o r l d for infant adopters w h o  could  only guess about  selection  criteria and w o n d e r  about  their potential  attractiveness.  Learning about placements which occurred for others prompted paradoxical On  one  hand, waiting adopters  available.  that infants w e r e  continuing to  be  O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , m a n y felt d i s c o u r a g e d that t h e y h a d n o t b e e n c h o s e n  this h a d a n i m p a c t o n their  Gender  felt e n c o u r a g e d  perceptions.  and  self-esteem.  Differences Men  m o r e readily a c k n o w l e d g e d their lack o f control over their ability to obtain a  child a n d w e r e less distressed about this aspect o f waiting. M o s t t e n d e d to accept the loss o f control as a n inherent part o f the process  o f adoption and tended to focus  their  activities to areas o f their lives w h e r e they h a d greater levels o f p o w e r a n d control, w o r k a n d leisure pursuits.  T h e y did not deny the uncertainties a n d stressfulness  of waiting  to  a d o p t , b u t r a t h e r a v o i d e d it b y c o n c l u d i n g n o t h i n g c o u l d b e d o n e t o c h a n g e it a n d d i r e c t e d their energies elsewhere.  T h o s e w h o gave expression to their feelings o f  and frustration, usually sought support their wives  from  their spouses.  to obtain information w h i c h w a s  discouragement  M o s t m e n also relied  then shared with them.  A m o n g  upon infant  adopters, particularly first t i m e a d o p t e r s , m e n e x p e r i e n c e d self-blame m o r e t h a n w o m e n . W o m e n w e r e m o r e outwardly expressive o f their experience o f uncertainty strain a n d m o r e p r o n e to action o r p r o b l e m - f o c u s e d c o p i n g strategies.  T h e y were primarily the  ones to telephone their social workers or m e m b e r s o f the A d o p t i v e Parents  98  Association  and to talk to their friends or spouses in search o f information or support. talking about their loss o f control, w o m e n  Rather than  tended to talk about waiting strains  and  frustrated efforts to seek information a n d mobilize support. B e c k e r (1990) a n d Salzer (1986) both f o u n d that m e n a n d w o m e n c o p e d with stresses o f infertility differently.  the  W o m e n w e r e m o r e likely to a p p r o a c h problem-solving  through action while m e n utilized avoidance.  Salzer maintains that the feelings o f m e n  w o m e n r e g a r d i n g infertility are not highly different.  She notes that their expressivity  and and  c o p i n g strategies c a n differ significantly.  Salzer attributes m u c h o f this to differences  cultural socialization o f m e n and w o m e n .  In her study o f infertile couples, B e c k e r ( 1 9 9 0 )  noted  is t h r o w n  that  when  the  infertility,  marital  relationships are strained and require renegotiation o f the values and personal  identity  issues for each partner.  f a m i l y life  cycle  off course  by  in  Differences in c o p i n g styles are m o s t likely to p r o m p t marital  stress w h e n t h e y are m i s u n d e r s t o o d o r misinterpreted a l o n g stereotypical g e n d e r lines. For example, if a w o m a n explains her husband's a b o u t infertility to herself as b e i n g a typically u n i m a n , a n d a m a n discounts his partner's concerns b y h i m s e l f s h e is a h y s t e r i c a l w o m a n , a b a r r i e r is (Becker, 1990, p. 172). A m o n g  study  participants,  differences  in  coping  silence nvolved telling created  strategies  were  widely  a c k n o w l e d g e d , a n d for the m o s t part, accepted as individual differences w h i c h p r o v i d e d s o m e balance to the marital relationship. F o r those w h o encountered marital tensions as a result o f waiting strain, efforts w e r e m a d e to resolve these tensions.  While  tensions  b e t w e e n husbands a n d w i v e s o c c u r r e d for only t w o o f the couples in this study a n d w e r e r e p o r t e d t o h a v e b e e n r e s o l v e d , it m a y b e i m p o r t a n t t o c o n s i d e r t h a t s t r e s s during waiting periods m a y pose risks for s o m e waiting  99  couples.  encountered  Social Support Systems Supportive relationships have b e e n f o u n d to be important mediators o f stress for people confronting change or loss (Belle, 1991; Tietjen and Bradley, 1985; U n g e r Powel, 1980; Wethington and Kessler, 1986; Gottlieb and Pancer, 1988)  Social support  systems provide assistance with problem-solving and reassurance o f worth and identity.  Belle (1991,  p. 259)  reports that  a n u m b e r o f recent  and  social  studies have  demonstrated that social networks can have the reverse effect a n d create or  also  exacerbate  stress particularly w h e n t h e y c o n v e y d i s a p p r o v a l o r fail to f u l f i l l e x p e c t a t i o n s f o r aid. M o s t waiting adopters found friends and family m e m b e r s unhelpful or unable understand their perceptions o f uncertainty strain; in a f e w  cases, friends and  to  family  m e m b e r s w e r e openly unsupportive o f the adoption plan. Despite the fact that m o s t adoptive parents reported themselves to have  developed  a g o o d relationship with their social w o r k e r during the homestudy process, they expressed a fairly high degree o f reluctance to reveal their levels o f distress a n d frustration waiting to their social workers.  S o m e w h o did, f o u n d their social workers  about  unresponsive  and unhelpful; a few did not and w e r e able to rely u p o n their social w o r k e r s for information and support.  both  In general, waiting adopters were dismayed and frustrated  to  discover their social workers did not the have information they sought particularly w h e n the A d o p t i v e Parents Association h a d access to that s a m e information.  This raises  the  questions about whether social workers w e r e withholding information or whether  there  w e r e barriers in agency communication patterns w h i c h prevented social workers  from  obtaining the information. D a l y ( 1 9 8 9 ) r e p o r t s that p r o s p e c t i v e a d o p t e r s p e r c e i v e t h e r e is a p o w e r  imbalance  b e t w e e n themselves a n d the agency and social w o r k e r a n d proposes that adoptive d o not feel  free  to express their concerns, anxieties and reservations.  100  Ward  parents  (1979) notes  that a d o p t i o n w o r k e r s are often v i e w e d as a "necessary evil" to attaining the goal adoption.  of  S h e maintains that effective w o r k with adoptive parents requires g o o d rapport  a n d trust b e t w e e n w o r k e r a n d adoptive parents. H a r t m a n (1984) reports adoptive often find a judgmental attitude prevails a m o n g adoption  parents  caseworkers.  T h e f o u n d a t i o n o f a n y helping relationship n e e d s to b e built o n trust.  While most  adoptive parents f o u n d their social w o r k e r to be helpful, knowledgeable and  trustworthy  during the h o m e s t u d y process, their experience during waiting d a m a g e d that relationship. This m a y p o s e problems during the selection, placement a n d post-placement G o o d a d o p t i o n s e r v i c e is p r e d i c a t e d i n a n o p e n , t r u s t i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n  processes. adoptive  families a n d their social worker. Waiting adopters' expressed needs are for an ongoing source o f information about the availability o f children a n d waiting times as well as emotional support.  The Adoptive  Parents Association was found to be the most valuable resource for meeting these needs. A l t h o u g h the decreasing n u m b e r o f infant placements a n d the increasing waiting times for p r o s p e c t i v e a d o p t e r s w a s k n o w n at S o c i a l Services, n o f o r m a l p r o v i s i o n s w e r e m a d e i n f o r m c o u p l e s o n the a p p r o v e d registry o f this.  to  Christian Counselling Services regularly  m a i l e d quarterly newsletters to their clients, b o t h a p p r o v e d a n d w a i t i n g a n d o n  the  h o m e s t u d y w a i t i n g list.  Stress  Interventions W e i t z (1991) maintains that people c o p e with stress m o s t effectively w h e n  feel in c o n t r o l o f their lives.  Stress interventions such as stress-inoculation p r o g r a m s  been found to be helpful for individuals facing a wide variety o f losses or (Roskies,  1991;  Weitz,  1991;  Wertkin,  1985;  Janis, 1983;  Jaremko,  have  changes  1983).  inoculation methods are composed o f three components: provision o f information  101  they  Stressabout  what to expect, identification of resources for coping, and assistance in development of a plan for responses to individual situations. All of the parents in this study waited longer than they expected; most encountered difficulties with waiting strain for which they did not feel prepared. A l l felt confident in their ability to manage the wait at its outset and less confident in coping during later stages of waiting.  It may be helpful to create a program for adoptive parents as they enter the  waiting period to prepare them for the anticipated strains of uncertainty.  This could be  based on the stress-inoculation model; objectives would be to provide information and identify and create resources for building coping skills.  If it were offered through the  Adoptive Parents Association, participation in such a program could occur in the absence o f the adoption worker giving couples more freedom to express their concerns.  This  could give prospective adopters a greater sense of control, provide opportunities for information and facilitate social support.  Summary From a social-time perspective, many waiting adopters come to feel derailed from their time tracks and unable to move forward toward their goal of parenthood while the world passes them by. The uncertainty of the timing and prospects of parenthood are the central stressors of their experience.  Loss of control and predictability over their lives is  managed by a variety of coping behaviors. Couples respond to the stress differently. M e n tend to be more comfortable with the sense of the loss of control and avoid stress by focusing their energies elsewhere. Women tend to be more expressive of their discomfort and are more likely to engage in action or problem-focused activities such as information search and mobilizing support.  Spousal differences in coping were acknowledged by all  102  study participants a n d although the findings o f this study did not reveal these  differences  w e r e o f t e n t h e c a u s e o f m a r i t a l t e n s i o n s , t h e p o t e n t i a l f o r s t r a i n o n t h e m a r r i a g e is e v i d e n t . Discrepancies in timing expectations are a key c o m p o n e n t uncertainty strain.  in the intensity  of  S t u d y participants w h o experienced the least a m o u n t o f waiting strain  used information search to revise expectation timetables. varied social support systems.  A s well, they had strong  and  M o s t waiting adopters f o r m g o o d relationships with their  social w o r k e r s prior to the waiting period. W h e n efforts to obtain information f r o m social w o r k e r s a r e f r u s t r a t e d , t r u s t i n t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p is e r o d e d .  This may pose problems during  the future course o f the adoption w h e n social workers are charged with the o f facilitating the placement o f a child.  responsibility  T h e s u p p o r t o f f r i e n d s a n d f a m i l y is  w e a k , a n d at times, d e t r i m e n t a l to w a i t i n g a d o p t e r s .  generally  B y far, s u p p o r t a n d i n f o r m a t i o n  from  other adoptive parents was found to be most valuable and consistent. T h e expressed needs o f waiting adopters are information and support. also benefit  from  preparation for waiting strain.  103  They  may  C H A P T E R C O N C L U S I O N S A N D  Adoption Saskatchewan  policies  and  practices  during the  past  decade.  S E V E N R E C O M M E N D A T I O N S  have  undergone  Post-adoption  response to the recognition o f the needs o f adult adoptees.  considerable  change  in  established  in  Adoptive parents formed  an  services were  organization to provide information a n d social support not easily accessible The  first  elsewhere.  private adoption agency w a s authorized to provide for o p e n adoption  and offer birth a n d adoptive parents option in services.  services  Social Services adoption  policies  w e r e changed to provide for o p e n adoption in response to the g r o w i n g d e m a n d f r o m birth parents for this service.  A s well,. efforts to p r o m o t e the adoption o f older a n d  needs children resulted in the establishment o f adoption subsidies.  special  A special initiative  f o r m e d for international adoption f r o m R o m a n i a in response to the c o m m u n i t y  was  awareness  that large n u m b e r s o f children w e r e being h o u s e d in institutions in that country. At decreased.  the  same  time,  the  numbers  o f children available  for adoption  steadily  This w a s particularly true o f the availability o f healthy, majority race infants.  T h e d e m a n d for a d o p t i o n service f r o m prospective adopters d e c r e a s e d only slightly.  This  imbalance o f supply and d e m a n d resulted in projected overall waiting times for adoption to increase  from  three years in 1983 to eight to ten years in  infant  1989.  In this study o f the process o f b e c o m i n g a n adoptive parent, waiting w a s  the  central issue o f focus.  Participants in this study w e r e in the process o f adopting d u r i n g a  time of rapid change  and decreasing prospects.  Uncertainty o f the outcome  decision to adopt occurs throughout the process for prospective adopters.  of  the  Waiting for the  s e l e c t i o n a n d p l a c e m e n t o f a c h i l d is c o n s i s t e n t l y r e p o r t e d t o b e t h e m o s t d i f f i c u l t s t a g e i n the process.  Following the successful completion o f a homestudy, approved  104  candidates  feel hopeful a n d confident in their desires to b e c o m e parents b y adoption.  Expectations  about the timing o f a selection and placement are created o n the basis o f an information search.  Social w o r k e r s are a n i m p o r t a n t resource for p r o v i d i n g i n f o r m a t i o n in the initial  development of timing expectations. C o p i n g w i t h u n c e r t a i n t y is a c o g n i t i v e a c t i v i t y w h i c h i n c o r p o r a t e s a s s e s s m e n t impending  threat  and  assessment  of  consequences o f any coping action.  resources  available  for  managing  and  the  E v e n t h o u g h the source o f the stress m a y not  a m e n a b l e to change, b o t h actions a n d t h o u g h t s m a y r e d u c e stress.  Uncertainty  of  be  strain  centers o n the issues o f w h e n and/or whether the desire for adoptive parenthood will be met.  Waiting  adopters * experience  a  sense  of  loss  of  control  over  their  lives.  Discrepancies in timing expectations are a key c o m p o n e n t in the intensity o f uncertainty strain. E a r l y i n t h e w a i t i n g s t a g e , u n c e r t a i n t y is m a n a g e d b y i n f o r m a t i o n s e a r c h t o  develop  timing expectations, b y exercising restraint a n d b y m a k i n g preparations for the arrival o f a child.  Uncertainty b e c o m e s increasingly stressful as waiting times lengthen a n d  expectations are unrealized.  timing  W h i l e the initial uncertainty strain t e n d s to b e centered  timing, u n m e t timing expectations p r o m p t focus o n a fear that the desire for parenthood m a y never be realized.  on  adoptive  Sensitivity to the passage o f time a n d u n m e t  desires  h e i g h t e n s o v e r t i m e a n d p e r c e p t i o n s o f social s u p p o r t r e s o u r c e s m a y c h a n g e i f t h e y fail to meet the needs o f prospective  adopters.  Patterns o f coping strategies, t h o u g h individually established, w e r e highly similar a m o n g study participants.  O f all c o p i n g strategies e m p l o y e d to m a n a g e the strain  uncertainty, i n f o r m a t i o n s e e k i n g w a s the m o s t c o m m o n across all c a s e s a n d the frequently and repeatedly used. seeking  from  social  workers,  In the face o f the apparent obstacles to study  participants  105  turned  to  the  of  most  information  Adoptive  Parents  Association as a reliable source of information. Late in the wait, perceptions of trust in the adoption caseworker can be eroded if efforts to obtain information or support from this resource are frustrated.  Spousal or gender differences in coping strategies, while  widely acknowledged, did not result in spousal tensions for most. For the few who did experience spousal tensions, these were resolved. Although actual waiting times varied greatly, the length of the wait does not appear to be as critical as its perceived disparity with the expected length of the wait. When coping strategies result in revised expectation of time, uncertainty strain may be better managed. In order for this to occur, information needs to be available. The fact that stress occurs during waiting is not as critical as whether there are sufficient resources for coping with stress and that these resources are available and accessible.  For most waiting adopters, social workers came to be perceived as  inaccessible, unsupportive and/or not well-informed.  Other support systems such as  family and friends were weak and perceived to lack understanding of waiting strain. The Adoptive Parents Association was the most consistently valuable source of information and support.  While this Association has grown considerably over the years since its  establishment, access to the Association is not equally available across the Province. It is essentially a volunteer organization and struggles to meet a wide variety of demands from a diverse population of adoptive parents.  Recommendations The findings of this small exploratory study cannot be generalized to the larger population of waiting adopters and further study is required to both validate and expand the findings. However, considerations and recommendations have been made with respect to policy, practice, as well as to further research.  106  A g e n c y policies and practices can shape the course o f the adoption process.  The  agency need to have a large pool o f a p p r o v e d and waiting prospective adopters in order to better meet requests o f birth parents' needs to be balanced with an understanding o f the possible consequences o f lengthening waiting times for m a n y adopters.  A  review  needed o f the necessity and prudence o f the apparent oversupply o f approved for infant placements.  resources  Consideration needs to be given to limiting the pool o f  infant resources to decrease the waiting times,  is  waiting  or to providing clear information  p r o s p e c t i v e a d o p t e r s , at the t i m e o f a p p l i c a t i o n a n d t h r o u g h o u t the a d o p t i o n  to  process,  about the length o f the wait a n d the possibility that an adoption m a y not take place  for  some. O p e n a d o p t i o n is still i n t h e e x p e r i m e n t a l s t a g e s a n d n e e d s t o b e f o l l o w e d  closely  o v e r the n e x t t w e n t y years. O u t c o m e s for all parties to the a d o p t i o n are, as yet, u n k n o w n . It is n o t k n o w n i f t h e r e a r e p a r t i c u l a r t r e n d s i n b i r t h p a r e n t s e l e c t i o n s w h i c h c o u l d agencies in p r o v i d i n g honest a n d realistic expectations for prospective  guide  adopters.  In the meantime if waiting times for infant adopters continue to be lengthy,  a  simple, a n d easily i m p l e m e n t e d intervention c o u l d be put into place w i t h the issuing  of  s e m i - a n n u a l letters ( s i m i l a r t o t h o s e s e n t t o a p p l i c a n t s o n t h e i n f a n t w a i t i n g list). could serve as a reassurance for prospective adopters that they continue to be  This actively  registered as a n a p p r o v e d a d o p t i o n resource a n d to i n f o r m t h e m o f waiting time trends. A n o t h e r practice change, w h i c h appears to be called for in the face o f increasing w a i t i n g t i m e s , is a n a n n u a l r e v i e w t o u p d a t e h o m e s t u d i e s .  G i v e n that s o m e infant adopters  i n t h i s s t u d y w a i t e d u p t o 3 - 1 / 2 y e a r s f o l l o w i n g t h e c o m p l e t i o n o f t h e h o m e s t u d y , it w o u l d s e e m irresponsible to neglect the need for updated information for both the agency a n d the client.  107  T h e expressed needs o f waiting adopters are information and support.  It is  of  concern that for m a n y , the failure o f their social w o r k e r s to respond to their needs resulted in decreasing trust levels.  O f particular frustration w a s the fact that the A d o p t i v e Parents  Association h a d information about Social Services adoption placements that w o r k e r s that agency  did not  s e e m to have.  This raises a n u m b e r o f questions:  Is this  p h e n o m e n o n w h i c h applies only to one regional office o f Social Services?  Are  communication  access  information? adopters?  barriers within  the  agency  which  limit  social  workers'  in  A r e social workers unaware o f the importance o f information for  a  there to  waiting  G i v e n the m a n y changes in adoption p r o g r a m s and policies during the  1980s  a n d t h e i n c r e a s e d d e m a n d s o n s o c i a l w o r k e r s , it m a y b e v a l u a b l e t o e x p l o r e t h e e f f e c t s o f these changes o n social workers' attitudes a n d w o r k stresses. R e s e a r c h in the area o f stress indicates that m a n y individuals benefit inoculation p r o g r a m s as a preventive measure.  from  stress-  Such a program could be developed  for  waiting adopters to provide t h e m with information about the strain o f uncertainty  and  e n c o u r a g e t h e m to identify potential resources to help t h e m m a n a g e the stress. In light o f the perception o f adoptive parents o f the p o w e r imbalance between adopters and workers,  such  a program may  be  better  facilitated  through  the  Adoptive  social Parents  Association or t h r o u g h a cooperative effort b e t w e e n agencies a n d the Association.  This  kind o f p r o g r a m c o u l d also be a useful source o f data for further research efforts. F u r t h e r r e s e a r c h is n e e d e d preliminary  findings.  to verify, substantiate,  and further develop  these  A s w e l l , it m a y b e i m p o r t a n t t o e x p l o r e w a i t i n g s t r a i n w i t h r e s p e c t t o  individual variations in perception o f stress or susceptibility to stress to determine if s o m e individuals are m o r e vulnerable than others. G e n d e r or spousal differences in coping with the stress o f w a i t i n g d e s e r v e s a careful l o o k at the i m p a c t o n m a r r i a g e relationships.  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"Disability A n d Discrepancy Of Expectations," in Biddle, B r u c e J. and E d w i n J. T h o m a s . R o l e Theory: Concepts A n d Research (pp. 159-164). N e w York: J o h n W i l e y & Sons.  122  P»0* 2 13  S u m r y  M t n o d o l o g y and p r o c M u r t i .  ot  (Mutt  b « typewritten  <  n  this  totem)  Social workers in agencies which provide adoption services and prospective or experienced adoptive parents oa uprise the study population and will be confined to the lower mainland area of British Columbia. This population w i l l be canvas ed and a l i s t made of voluntary participants who meet the criteria outlined in item 14. Fran this l i s t purposive, availability sampling will be used to segregate subjects into interview groups or individual interview candidates on the basis of availability and their preference for participation. Group interview subjects will be divided into two categories - parents who have had an adoption placement within the past 12 months and those who have completed an approved application for adoption and are currently waiting for adoption placement. If time and sufficient numbers of subjects allows, focus group interview categories will be further divided into (1) males, (2) females, and (3) couples. Social work professionals will be contacted and interviewed individually. Three stages of data collection are planned. The first stage will be a series of single occasion focus group, interviews with experienced and prospective adoptive parents. The second stage will be individual/couple interviews with experienced or prospective adoptive parents. The third stage will be a series of individual interviews with socialwork professionals engaged in adoption services. Interviews will be recorded by audio-tape and supplemented by the researcher's field notes. A short self-administered questionnaire w i l l be used with focus group participants.  OESCaiPTIPN  OF P O P U L A T I O N  '3 ^ J« V S28 subiec*s will participate in focus grouo interviews, 7-14 sub]ects in individual/coupre interviews. 5.^5 social workers wiiJ. be'interviewed. C  How  14  u n y  i n Xfm  None.  Who 1 » M i n g  2  control  r a c r u l t M  0  group?  »rxj  what  - = » < ^  ara tn« criteria  for  thair  aelactlon?  Subjects will be parents who have experienced an adoption placement within the past 12 mos and applicants for adoption who have completed an application and been approved for adoption by a recognized adoption authority. Social 'workers engaged in adoption services recognized or authorized by the Provincial government w i l l be recruited for participation.  124  P«oe 3  IS What s u b j e c t s w i l l  be e x c l u d e d from  participation?  Approved applicants who have waited for placement for less than six months will be excluded from the study as well as parents who nave adopted on more than two occasions prior to the study period. 16 How a r a t h e s u b j e c t s B e i n g r e c r u i t e d ? ( I f i n i t i a l c o n t a c t l » By l e t t e r o r i f a r e c r u i t m e n t n o t i e o i s t o Be p o s t e d , a t t a c n a c o p y . ) NOTE t h a t UBC p o l i c y a b s o l u t e l y p r o n i b i t s i n i t i a l c o n t a c t By t e l e p n o n e .  The Adoptive Parent A s s o c i a t i o n of B.C. has i n v i t e d the researcher t o a t t e n d two of t h e i r general s e e t i n g s to intradude the r e s e a r c h study and ask f o r v o l u n t e e r p a r t i c i p a n t s . Those who i n d i c a t e a w i l l i n g n e s s t o p a r t i c i p a t e w i l l be c o n t a c t e d f u r t h e r by the researcher by l e t t e r and a follow-up telephone c a l l t o schedule an i n t e r v i e w date. S o c i a l workers w i l l be contacted by l e t t e r i n v i t i n g p a r t i c i p a t i o n and a f o l l o w - u p telephone-contact. 17 i f a c o n t r o l grouo provide d e t a i l s .  Is  involved, j i£  and i f  tr »-  There will "Be *no control group.  PBOJICT DETAILS t h e p r o j e c t oe conducted? (room or area) potential sites for group meetings are the researcher's hare or the School of Social Work. This w i l l be determined on the basis of gxed? size and the most convenient access for participants. Individual/couple interviews --al- be held in the subject's hemes. f V v ^ i w m - V p r g w i l l h o in+pvsiew** *r a - q i * " of f n P T r 19 who w i n . c t u a i i y conduct t n . study? preference, i.e. their offices or a restuarant, etc  i s where w i n  Sharon Frank W i l l t h e g r o u p of s u b j e c t s nave any problems g i v i n g informed consent on t h e i r 30 - . p h y s i c a l o r mental c o n d i t i o n , a g e . language, o r other B a r r i e r s  NO areolars with informed consent are anticipated. 31 I f  t h e s u b j e c t s a r e not competent  to give f u l l y  own o e n a l f ? C o n s . a e r  A l l subjects will be capable adults.  Informed c o n s e n t , who w i l l  consent on t h e i r  oenalf?  N/A 22 What  i s known about  the r i s k s s o d B e n e f i t s of the proposed r s s e a r c n ? Do you nave a d d i t i o n a l  opinions  Preliminary discussions with adoptive parents indicate their expectation that participation in the research affords them an opportunity to be heard and that this will, benefit them. Participation is strictly voluntary and any question may be declined. Confidentiality will be strictly respected. No discomfort for subjects is anticipated. Debriefing or referral to counselling will be Gffered to a l l subjects should participation cause discomfort.  on t m s i s s u e ?  125  page 4 — — — 23 What d i s c o m f o r t O P i n c a p a c i t y a r a tha a u b j e e t s procedurea?  , , . , . „ • n d u r a aa a r e a u l t l i k e l y to enoure aa  of  tha  experimental  See item 22.  24 If  aonat.ry  c o m p e n s a t i o n 1.  t o Pa o f f . r a d  t h . subjects, p r o v i o . M t i t H  of amounts and payment  achadulaa.  N/A  25 Mow « u c n time w i l l  a suoject  have to d e d i c a t e  to tha  project?  Group interviews w i l l take one and one-half to two hours; individual interviews w i l l take approximately the same amount of time. 26 How much t i m a w i n  a mamo.r o f  tha c o n t r o l  group ( i f  any)  h.v.  to d . d . c . t .  to t h .  project?  N/A  Da.T*  27 Who w i l l  h a v . a c c a a s to the  data7  The researcher only. HOW w i n c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y of t h a data ba a a m t a i n a d ? Lists c f prospective subjects and partipants w i l l be held by the researcher only during the i n i t i a l stages of the project and destroyed at i t s completion. Interview notes, transcripts and audio-tapes w i l l be identified by r.urericai coding. Group interviews w i l l be conducted on a f i r s t name basis only for participants•  2«  29 What a r a t h a p l a n a f o r  future  uae of  tha d a t a  (beyond t h a t o e e c r i b a o 1n t h i s p r o t o c o l ) ? How and when  Audio tape recordings of interviews w i l l be electronically erased within one month of completion of the research project. Notes and other written materials w i l l be shredded within one month of the project completion.  win  t h a d a t a t>a'destroyed?  30 W i l l  any d a t a wnich i o « n t l f 1 . a  Individuals  be a v a l l a o l e  Univeralty?  No.  126  to p a r s o n s or a g e n c i e s o u t s i o e  the  page 9  CHECKLISTS  31  Will  your p r o j a c t  use:  (en#c»)  Ouae n o r m a l r e s (submit  r~|  I n t e r v i e w s (submit  FJ.  a copy)  a sample of  I  | Observations (aubiilt a b r i e f  I  | Taata  (submit  a brief  questions)  description)  description)  INFORMED CONSENT 33  Who w i l l  consent?  EQ  (check)  Sue j a c t  m  Parent/Guardian  f~l  Agency O f f i d a l ( a )  In the c a s e of p r o j e c t a c a r r i e d out at o t h e r i n i t t t u t l o n i , tha Committee r e q u i r e s w r i t t e n proof that agency conaant has bean r e c e i v e d . P l e a s e s p e c i f y Below: r~l  Research c a r r i e d out  In a h o s p i t a l  - approval  of h o s p i t a l  r a a e a r c h or e t m c s  fl  R e s e a r c h e a r n e d out 1n a school - approval of Scnool Board a n d / o r P r i n c i p a l . (Exact r e q u i r e m e n t s depend on i n d i v i d u a l s c n o o l b o a r d s : check with F a c u l t y of E d u c a t i o n Committee •ameers f o r . d e t a i l s )  [""1  R e s e a r c h c a r r i e d out  f~l  Other,  In a P r o v i n c i a l H e a l t h Agency - approval of Deputy  committee.  Minister  specify:  33 UBC P o l i c y r e q u i r e s w r i t t e n s u b j e c t consent i n a l l c a s e s o t h e r than ouast tonne i ras » M c n are completed by t h e sub l e c t . ( s e a Item #34 f o r consent r e q u i r e m e n t s ) P l e a s e cnecx eac.i item i n the f o l l o w i n g l i s t b e f o r e suomIssIon of t h i s form to ensure t h a t tha w r i t t e n consent form a t t a c h e d c o n t a i n s a)1 n e c e a e a r y Items.  rjg^Tltle of p r o j e c t Ident i f t e a t i o n of  investigatons  ( i n c l u d i n g a telephone  numoer)  rCT^Brief but complete o a a c n p t i o n IN LAY LANGUAGE of t h a purpose of the p r o j a c t p r o c e d u r e s to ba e a r n e d out i n which the s u b j e c t s are i n v o l v e d . I v f ' A s s u r a n c s that i d e n t i t y of t h i s w i l l be a c c o m p l i s h e d "•^statement r*~l  Details  of the  tha s u b j e c t w i l l  ba kept c o n f i d e n t i a l  and of  all  and d e s c r i p t i o n of now  t o t a l amount of time t h a t w i l l ba r e q u i r e d of a s u o j e c t  of monetary compensation.  If  any.  to ba o f f e r e d to s u o j e c t s .  O^An o f f e r t o anawer any I n q u i r i e s c o n c e r n i n g the procedures to ensure that they are u n d e r s t o o d by t h a s u o j e c t and to p r o v i d e d e o r l a f i n g i f a p p r o p r i a t e  fully  ET'A  statement o f t h a s u b j e c t ' s r i g h t t o r e f u s e t o p a r t i c i p a t e or withdraw at any time and a statement t h a t withdrawal or r e f u s a l to p a r t i c i p a t e w i l l not j e o p a r d i z e f u r t h e r t r e a t m e n t , medical c a r e or i n f l u e n c e c l a s s s t a n d i n g aa a p p l i c a b l e . NOTE: T h i s statement must a l s o appear on l e t t e r s of i n i t i a l c o n t a c t .  [3^*  p l a c e f o r s i g n a t u r e of s u o j e c t CONSENTING t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n v e s t i g a t i o n or s t u d y .  \v^k I  statement  scknowledglng r e c e i p t  of a copy of  In the r e s e a r c h  project,  the consent form i n c l u d i n g a l l  attachments.  I P a r e n t a l consent forms must c o n t a i n a statement of c h o i c e p r o v i d i n g an o p t i o n f o r r e f j s a l t o p a r t i c i p a t e , ( e . g . "I c o n s a n t / l do not consent to my c h i l d ' s p o r t i c l o a r ion In t n n study."  127  nnr<TTOMMAlBES ( c o m p l e t e d tiy  Mg<  subjects)  , 4 ( X - . t l o n r - . r . . s h o u l d c o n t a i n . n i n t r o d u c t o r y paragraph - n . c n « " « l u M i i t n . t ° ' 1 ° * " > ° r l l ' Y r ? * P ? e a £ c n » « . . c n Item . n t n . f o l l o w i n g l . . t b e f o r e s u b m i s s i o n of t n i . form t o m . u r . tnat t n . p introduction c o n t a i n , a l l n t u i u r y item. PI  T u l a of  '° '  project  n  Identification  n  A brief  PI  Tha b e n e f i t s  •  A full  n  A statement o f t n a s u b j e c t ' s r i g h t t o r e f u s e t o p a r t i c i p a t e o r withdraw a t any time w i t h o u t J e o p a r d i z i n g f u r t h e r treatment, medical c a r e or c l a s . s t a n d i n g as a p p l i c a b l e NOTE: T h i s statement must a l s o appear on e x p l a n a t o r y l e t t e r s i n v o l v i n g Q u e s t t o n n a i r a s .  PI  the amount of  f~I  The statement t h a t has been g i v e n  PI  Assurance that tnia  f""1  n  of  inva.tlg.tor*  (including a t t l W W M  summary triat I n d l c a t a a t o Da d a r i v a d  d a a c r i p t i o n of  will  number)  tna p u r p o . a of t n a p r o J a c t  t n a p r o c a d u r . a to oa c r n a d out  . n wn.cn t n a s u b j e c t s a r .  invoiv.o  time r e q u i r e d of the suOJect must be s t a t e d . 1f  t h e q u e s t i o n n a i r e i s completed i t  identity  of  tha s u o j e c t w i l l  will  be assumed that consent  be Kept c o n f i d e n t i a l  and D e s c r i p t i o n of now  ba a c c o m p l i s h e d .  For s u r v e y s c i r c u l a t e d by mall of the q u e s t i o n n a i r e  submit a copy of  the e x p l a n a t o r y  l e t t e r as well  as a copy  ATTACKIEWT5 35 Check items a t t a c h e d to t h i s s u b m i s s i o n i f  ET"..t t a r l~l  of  initial  Advert teement  contact  (item  f-or v o l u n t e e r  applicable,  (incomplete  16)  subjects (item  16)  tB^SuOJect c o n s e n t form (Item 33) (*"")  C o n t r o l g r o u p consent form ( i f  different  from above)  n  P a r e n t / g u a r d l . n consent f o r « , ( i f d i f f e r e n t  n  Agency c o n s e n t ( i t e m  IVT'questionnaires,  tests.  from above)  32) Interviews,  etc.  (Item  f~l  E x p l a n a t o r y l a t t e r w i t h q u . s t l o n n a i r . (Item  n  D e s c r i p t i o n of d a o n e f i n g 1f d e c e p t i o n ts  PI  Other,  specify:  128  31)  34)  involve  submissions w i l l  not be  reviewed)  6  APPENDIX  C  I N T E R V I E W C O N S E N T  F O R M  Thank y o u for y o u r willingness to consider participating in m y research project titled, W a i t i n g F o r A d o p t i o n . T h i s p r o j e c t is b e i n g u n d e r t a k e n a s p a r t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s for m y p o s t - g r a d u a t e studies in the S c h o o l o f S o c i a l W o r k at the U n i v e r s i t y o f British •Columbia. M y interest in the field o f adoption has developed out o f m y past professional experience in adoption services in the P r o v i n c e o f Saskatchewan. I have n o affiliation with any agency or group which provides adoption services in British Columbia; I a m currently o n a leave o f absence f r o m m y position with Saskatchewan Social Services. T h e p u r p o s e o f this i n t e r v i e w is t o o b t a i n i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t t h e a d o p t i o n p r o c e s s and the aspect o f waiting prior to an adoption placement. In talking with y o u about your experiences in anticipating adoptive parenthood, I hope to discover and describe the perspective o f adoptive parents a n d the issues or circumstances w h i c h play a role in this p a r t o f t h e a d o p t i o n p r o c e s s . Y o u r c o n t r i b u t i o n t o t h i s r e s e a r c h is i m p o r t a n t a n d v a l u a b l e . It is h o p e d t h a t t h e r e s u l t s m a y b e p u t t o u s e t o b e n e f i t t h o s e w h o f o l l o w y o u i n anticipating adoption. Your participation in this interview will b e k e p t in the strictest c o n f i d e n c e a n d at n o time will the information y o u offer be linked to y o u r identity. Your participation in this i n t e r v i e w i s c o m p l e t e l y v o l u n t a r y a n d y o u a r e free t o w i t h d r a w from t h e i n t e r v i e w a t a n y t i m e . Y o u a r e a l s o free t o d e c l i n e a n s w e r i n g a n y q u e s t i o n w i t h o u t p r e j u d i c e . R e f u s a l t o participate or answer any question will not affect y o u r adoption process in any way. S h o u l d questions o r c o n c e r n s about this research project arise, please feel m e n t i o n t h e m at a n y time.  free  to  T h e interview will require one to t w o hours o f y o u r time. In order to have the full benefit o f y o u r responses, I w o u l d like y o u r permission to audio-tape o u r interview. T h e tape recording will be used solely for the purposes o f m y study and will be erased within one m o n t h o f the project's completion. Please indicate y o u r consent to be interviewed and to allow the interview to be audio-taped by signing below.  130  APPENDIX I N T E R V I E W  D G U I D E  INTERVIEW O B J E C T I V E S : D e s c r i b e a n d define waiting as a n aspect o f the a d o p t i o n p r o c e s s . L o o k f o r w h e n o r w h e t h e r t h i s is a c r i t i c a l i s s u e f o r p a r e n t s . W h a t d o e s w a i t i n g m e a n ? H o w is w a i t i n g e x p e r i e n c e d ? H o w d o e s it a f f e c t i n d i v i d u a l s a n d c o u p l e s ? W h a t d o prospective parents d o in response to waiting? 1. ) I n t r o d u c e t o p i c o f t h e s t u d y . 2. ) Invite s t u d y participants to tell their a d o p t i o n story. T r a c k t h e p r o c e s s b y a g e n c y b o u n d a r i e s : a p p l i c a t i o n , w a i t i n g list, waiting, selection and placement and finalization of the adoption. As the story unfolds,  homestudy,  explore:  Further questions: W h e n d i d y o u first c o n s i d e r a d o p t i o n ? W h a t happened then? W h a t did y o u think? H o w did y o u feel? W h a t did y o u do? W a s that helpful? W h a t w a s waiting like for y o u ? W h e n d i d y o u start waiting? W h a t led u p to that point? W h a t d o y o u r e m e m b e r about that time? W h a t c h a n g e d i n y o u r life d u r i n g that t i m e ? relationships with spouse, family, friends w o r k or career plans use of leisure time concept o f self a n d others plans for the future Are their differences in h o w the t w o of y o u waited? H o w did that affect y o u ? What encouraged you? W h a t discouraged you? W h a t / w h o was helpful to you? W h a t about y o u r social worker/ family/ friends/ SAP A/ others? Did y o u respond to the experience of waiting different f r o m y o u r spouse? In w h a t w e r e your responses different/similar? Did you ever consider changing your adoption plans? Did you ever consider withdrawing your application for adoption? W h a t did you need most while you were waiting?  132  ways  APPENDIX  E  C O D E D E X C E R P T S F R O M I N T E R V I E W #6 N a m e s of interviewees, have been replaced with the terms H u s b a n d and Wife. CODING  SCHEME:  E X P = Expectation APP = Appraisal PF COPE = Problem-Focused Coping EF COPE = Emotion-Focused Coping OUTC = Outcome PRO = Prompter TIME = T i m e  W I F E : W e d e c i d e d to start o u r family in N o v e m b e r o f 77. After six m o n t h s , nothing h a p p e n e d so w e w e n t to the d o c t o r . .. s a i d t o w a i t f o r a y e a r . N o t h i n g h a p p e n e d a f t e r that. S o w e w e n t to specialists o n e o f w h o m said w e s h o u l d c o n s i d e r a d o p t i o n . S h e s a i d it's g o i n g t o t a k e a f e w y e a r s b y the t i m e w e get t h r o u g h w i t h all the specialist s t u f f w e c o u l d b e o n t h e w a i t i n g list. S o w e d i d start t h e tests b u t w e still didn't p u t o u r n a m e s i n u n t i l t h e s p r i n g of 1981. HUSBAND: She's doing very well so far (leaves to care f o r c h i l d w a k i n g from a n a p ) . W I F E : W e l l , t h e n it d i d n ' t t a k e l o n g , it w a s t h r e e y e a r s until w e g o t [ o u r first child]. W e started the h o m e s t u d y , w e w o r k e d t h r o u g h that, that w a s in the fall a n d w e got [ o u r first child] in the s p r i n g S o it w a s a c t u a l l y j u s t o v e r 3 years - 3 years a n d o n e m o n t h . T h e n as s o o n w e h a d c o n f i r m a t i o n from t h e c o u r t s , w e p u t o u r n a m e s i n f o r n u m b e r two. T h a t o n e t o o k a bit longer. Q: O k a y , so that w a s in the fall of? WIFE: That was October 1983. T h e y phoned about [our s e c o n d child] o n [ m o n t h a n d day] 1990. A bit longer. l i t t l e b i t b e t t e r t h a n 6 1 / 2 [ y e a r s ] . T h a t first m o n t h w a s  133  A  r o u g h , t h a t t r o u b l e w e h a d t h a t first c o u p l e o f w e e k s w h e r e w e w e r e told one thing and then something else w o u l d happen. Q : I w o u l d l i k e t o h e a r m o r e a b o u t t h a t , b u t first, w h a t I ' d l i k e y o u t o d o , h o w e v e r , i s b a c k to w h e n the s e c o n d h o m e s t u d y w a s c o m p l e t e d a n d tell m e w h a t h a p p e n e d then. W I F E : O k a y , w e did our update, W e did the in the s u m m e r of 1987 and I g u e s s b e c a u s e w e g o t [ o u r first c h i l d ] so quickly after o u r homestudy, I kept t h i n k i n g it w a s g o i n g t o b e t h e s a m e w a y with [our second child].  homestudy } }  E X P } }  A n d later talking to other people w h o w e r e g e t t i n g b a b i e s a n d it w a s 2, 3 y e a r s after their homestudy. T h a t w a s very disheartening. Because w e m o v e d into the house here in 1987 and got the kids r o o m s ready. [ O u r first c h i l d ] ' s r o o m w e d i d first. T h e n w e painted [our s e c o n d child]'s r o o m , put u p wallpaper and I m a d e curtains and g o t a crib,  P - F  thinking w e ' v e got to get this d o n e b e c a u s e it c o u l d b e a n y t i m e . A n y t i m e t u r n e d o u t to b e 3 years later. S o that r o o m e n d e d u p collecting a lot of junk.  C O P E  E X P  Q: H o w did that affect you, having the r o o m there? WEFE: Well, like I said, w e just kind of collected things in there and closed the door. O n c e in awhile I w o u l d go in t h e r e a n d j u s t l o o k at t h e b a b y stuff* a n d t h i n k , s o m e d a y , it's g o i n g t o h a p p e n someday. B u t until that day, that  } } E - F } }  s o m e d a y s e e m s l i k e it's n e v e r g o i n g t o h a p p e n .  134  }  U N C  COPE  I think HUSBAND t o o k it a l o t b e t t e r t h a n I did, especially with the babies happening within the family. M y brother a n d his wife got a baby [through adoption] - that w a s 2 years ago a n d their b a b y was 2 days old. T h a t w a s just a year after w e w e r e d o n e our homestudy. W e kept thinking, anytime, anytime.  } }  P R O }  } }  E X P }  P e o p l e k e p t s a y i n g , w o u l d n ' t it b e n i c e ify o u got your baby girlnow, then they'd be the s a m e age. A n d then the people a c r o s s the street h a d a girl 2 y e a r s a g o too. I hope y o u get y o u r baby soon, y o u k n o w , they kept r e m i n d i n g us.  } } }  P R O } } }  Q : W a s it d i f f i c u l t w h e n o t h e r p e o p l e b r o u g h t it u p ? WIPE: Yeah, yeah. H a v e you heard anything? Well ifwe'd heard anything we'd have the baby. Y o u k n o w what I m e a n . It's n o t l i k e t h e y ' r e g o i n g t o s a y it's g o i n g t o h a p p e n i n 6 m o n t h s , 'cause t h e y couldn't tell us. I k e p t p h o n i n g o u r social w o r k e r just to say, so? anything n e w happening? Anything going on?  } } P-F } }  Q: W a s that helpful? WIFE:  Yeah, in a way.  It w a s f o r m e .  }  B u t I t h i n k it d r o v e [ o u r s o c i a l w o r k e r ] u p the wall.  }  O U T A P P }  WIFE: I f o u n d that I h a d to d o that. Because w e weren't getting our update letters a n y m o r e . O n c e y o u finish y o u r h o m e s t u d y , they don't send y o u a letter s a y i n g from t h i s p o i n t f o r w a r d , i t c o u l d  } } }  P R O }  135  COPE  take approximately this m a n y months. A n d w e w e r e u s e d to t h o s e letters. T h o s e l e t t e r s w e r e l i k e , o k a y from h e r e we've got this m u c h longer to wait, this is o u r n e x t step. O n c e y o u d o n ' t g e t those letters you're sort o f ~  }  P R O  o k a y we've got to have something to grasp o n t o , t o k n o w that w e ' r e still o n that list.  U N C  And other people kept saying, I k n o w people in Regina w h o w o r k for Social S e r v i c e s , I'll s e e i f I c a n g e t t h e m t o find o u t w h e r e y o u a r e o n t h e l i s t .  P R O  }  But w e never heard anything back. (interruption. HUSBAND  O U T  returns with child)  Q : O k a y , n o w W I J F E w a s talking about after the second h o m e s t u d y w a s c o m p l e t e d - she said she w o u l d call [your social w o r k e r ] every o n c e in awhile just to say, so? B e c a u s e o f being... WIFE:  ...abandoned.  H U S B A N D :  }  U N C  O h . - - Y e s  Q: S h e also suggested that y o u tolerated this differently, the wait - she said better. w o n d e r i n g w h a t it w a s l i k e f o r y o u . HUSBAND: done?  After the second homestudy  Q; After the second  was  homestudy.  HUSBAND: M e , nothing was m e , e h , w e h a d [ o u r first c h i l d ] w h i c h s o r t o f fil ed t h a t g a p d i f f e r e n t from t h e w a i t w e h a d And in dealing with [our social  happening to here  } } E F }  before. worker],  }  136  COPE  I was  I k n e w she was n e w and there w o u l d be reason I thought to get o n her case b e c a u s e w h a t is s h e g o i n g t o just m a y b e her attitude - her h e r - it w a s s o l a i d b a c k a n d will go and what are y o u goi a b o u t it?  no C O P E  d o ? It w a s way about things ng to do  A P P  P F  And then w e would phone and ask this a n d that a n d w e wouldn't get a n s w e r a n d it w o u l d r e a l l y c o n c e r n W I F E  O U T  an  A P P  and I w o u l d go, well, m a y b e she's got s o m e learning to do. Because myself, I figured, well what are y o u going to do. A n d I thought, w h y w o r r y , I c o u l d n ' t d o a n y t h i n g a b o u t it s o . . . J u s t s t a y i n t o u c h a n d let h e r k n o w we're here. F e e d us s o m e input every o n c e i n a w h i l e a n d t h a t ' s h o w it w e n t . I w a s frustrated for WIFE. frustrated for me.  I wasn't  I w a s actually prepared that if things got w o r s e to worst that one child w a s fine. I h a d a c c e p t e d that. WIFE was h a v i n g trouble w h e n I w o u l d s u g g e s t that. And I thought that w e have our perfect, super baby. If the girl c o m e s along, that's great; but, if not w e h a v e attained our goal. Q: B u t y o u don't think WIFE  C O P E  got to that point?  HUSBAND: Definitely not. M o s t certainly not. S h e didn't really w a n t  137  P F  C O P E  E F  C O P E  E F  C O P E  to consider that. E v e n [our social w o r k e r ] s u g g e s t e d that. I think that was a policy they were following approach certain couples w h o had been o n t h e list f o r a c e r t a i n t i m e a n d s a y t h e y s h o u l d r e c o n s i d e r that.. S o I w a s r e a d y to accept that a n d WIFE w a s not a n d that's w h e r e w e stood. WIFE:  N o . I felt w e h a d w a i t i n g t o o  long to give up. HUSBAND:  }  Right. But..  W D ? E : W e ' d c o m e this far. I'm n o t going to say "no" now.  } }  HUSBAND: A n d then this R o m a n i a n situation c a m e u p a n d that really m a d e us do some soul searching. w e w e r e very h a p p y w e didn't have to m a k e t h e final d e c i s i o n , i t w o u l d h a v e b e e n v e r y difficult.  TIME }  }  P R O }  WIFE: W e had discussed, but no decision. A n d w h e n this R o m a n i a n thing c a m e up, then w e really discussed heavily. HUSBAND:  TIME  B u t still n o d e c i s i o n .  WIFE: N o . T h e y said that there w a s n o guarantee that these children w e r e even going to come. A n d then [our social worker] p h o n e d about [our second child], she said we've got a b a b y girl f o r y o u , a n d I s a i d h o w d i d y o u find o u t so soon, because I thought she was talking about a R o m a n i a n child.  138  HUSBAND: W e l l , so that k i n d o f brought things to the forefront. B u t previous to that, h o w l o n g before that d i d [our social w o r k e r ] call us to c h a n g e our... WIFE:  November.  HUSBAND: Yeah, November. Did we want to go with open adoption, did w e want to go to male or female. WIFE: S h e basically said that if y o u restrict yourself to an infant girl, your chances are pretty narrow. Because a lot of these biological parents are picking the adoptive parents before the c h i l d is b o r n . A n d w e ' r e j u s t b e i n g passed over because w e wanted a girl. HUSBAND: It w a s i n t e r e s t i n g b e c a u s e w e r e glad that [our social w o r k e r ] p h o n e d a n d a p p r o a c h e d us o n this but, we were wondering h o w many times we'd p a s s e d over. W h y w e r e w e not... WIFE:  we }  P R O  been  ...told sooner. U N C  HUSBAND: aggressive? WIFE: there.  Should we have been more  B u t w e didn't k n o w the situation  HUSBAND: Should we have read between the lines? M a y b e w e should have taken a m o r e active part in o u r o w n destiny. WIPE:  That's w h y I had been phoning  139  P F  [our social worker] to keep informed about w h a t w a s h a p p e n i n g there. Q:  C O P E  So, one o f the problems was a lack o f information?  W I F E : A n d [our social worker] didn't k n o w either, b e c a u s e she w a s n e w in that department too.  A P P  (interruption) HUSBAND: I don't k n o w if WIFE m e n t i o n e d it, b u t w e a l s o a p p r o a c h e d Christian Counselling Services..We're not fans o f Christian Counselling Services. WIFE: B u t they weren't applications. HUSBAND:  P F  C O P E  O U T  taking  O U T  S o w e basically w r o t e that off.  But w e thought we'll try to get o u r n a m e o n that as another angle.  P F  A n d then with W I F E ' S brother a n d his wife going private.  P R O  W I F E was more and more...  U N C  W I F E : W e l l , e v e r y b o d y w a s s a y i n g it w o u l d be nice if y o u got y o u r girl, so [ m y niece] w o u l d have s o m e o n e to play with.  P R O  HUSBAND: S o m a y b e there again, m a y b e should have been more aggressive some years a g o a n d really started... B u t w i t h [ o u r first c h i l d ] o n l y b e i n g a l i t t l e over three years by the time w e got him, I g u e s s w e w e r e a little c o m p l a c e n t o r  we  } }  E X P }  140  C O P E  figuring, w e l l it m i g h t b e a little b i t l o n g e r . O b v i o u s l y it w a s a l o t l o n g e r . WIFE: I guess y o u have in the b a c k o f y o u r m i n d t h a t it w o u l d t a k e a s l o n g a s t h e first t i m e .  E X P  HUSBAND: Well, w e m o v e d to a bigger house, w e planned where w e want our kids to live, w h a t school, w e b o t h w a n t e d a c e r t a i n n e i g h b o r h o o d . W e l l , w e d i d it, so w e m o v e d to a bigger house, w e w e r e getting things in place.  P F  HUSBAND: But another thing with waiting w a s that y o u always have people asking y o u have you heard anything, well no w e haven't a n d y o u k i n d o f g e t a little n e g a t i v e e v e n t h o u g h y o u k n o w that they have y o u r best interests at heart. And then when they do ask you, you y e a h , w h a t is h a p p e n i n g , y o u k n o w .  P R O  E F  wonder,  T h e n t h r o u g h S A P A every m o n t h y o u see statistics, a n d y o u go, w h o a a , that's a low number.  C O P E  C O P E  U N C  the P R O  Q : W a s it d i s c o u r a g i n g t o r e a d t h e s t a t i s t i c s ? HUSBAND: W e l l a t t i m e s . Y e s , it r e a l l y w a s , b u t t h e n y o u l o o k a t it a n d y o u s a y t o y o u r s e l f t h a t t h i s is m o r e information than you're going to get a n y w h e r e else. S o y o u m i g h t as well a c c e p t it. A n d t h e n t h r o u g h S A P A y o u d o s e e c o u p l e s f o r w h o m it d o e s h a p p e n a n d it d o e s h a p p e n , t h e r e ' s p r o o f t h a t it h a p p e n s .  }  141  A P P  Q : A n d that's HUSBAND:  encouraging? Y e s . That's right.  }  142  O U T  APPENDIX  F  P R O C E S S M A T R I X : B E C O M I N G A N A D O P T I V E P A R E N T PART I C H I L D L E S S , I N F E R T I L E C O U P L E S A P P L Y I N G I N F A N T A D O P T I O N C A S E Prior T o Application  Application & Waiting List  Homestudy Approval Waiting  Critical Juncture Waiting Strain Selection  #4  infertility treatment wife wants to apply/ husband wants to wait continued medical treatment/ didn't think m u c h about adoption taking action a chance to do something timetable-lyr coping by staying busy Time running out uncertainty w a i t is o v e r  C A S E  F O R  #7  C A S E #9  .  infertility treatment wife wants to apply/ husband wants to wait hopes for pregnancy high then diminish  infertility treatment " wife wants to apply husband wants to wait hopes for pregnancy  moving on with , it/getting closer timetable open  it w e n t b y f a s t  m a k e list things to before b any time  of do aby now  timetable-lyr relief  uncertainty  1 yr over, time to get ready uncertainty  w a i t is o v e r  w a i t is o v e r  Placement  143  P A R T II S E C O N D A D O P T I O N A P P L I C A N T S F O R I N F A N T S :  CASE  # 1  CASE  # 6  Homestudy  1 st a d o p t i o n finalized certain in desire for 2nd child o n list apply new agency no wait wasting time  1st a d o p t i o n finalized certain in desire for 2nd child waiting expected didn't think m u c h a b o u t it went smoothly  Approval  timetable-2yrs  Waiting Critical Juncture Waiting Strain Selection  getting ready time running out uncertainty  timetable expected to be like before getting ready time running out uncertainty  on our way unexpected delays/fears w a i t is o v e r  on our way unexpected delays/fears w a i t is o v e r  Prior T o Application  Application & Waiting List  Placement  144  CASE  # 8  1st a d o p t i o n finalized certain in desire for 2nd child apply new agency no wait simple process easier than before timetable expected to be like before getting ready time running out uncertainty w a i t is o v e r  P A R T III S E C O N D A D O P T I O N S S P E C I A L A D O P T I O N P R O G R A M  C A S E Prior T o Application  1st a d o p t i o n finalized certain in desire for 2nd child  Application & Waiting List Homestudy  delay  Approval Waiting  wasting  time  timetabling prior exp. getting ready  Critical Juncture Waiting Strain  time running out uncertainty  Selection  w a i t is o v e r  Placement  #3  C A S E  C A S E  #2  1 st a d o p t i o n finalized certain in desire for 2nd child no wait  1st a d o p t i o n finalized certain in desire for 2nd child  as e x p e c t e d no problems timetabling no prior exp. getting ready expect delays staying in touch with worker  wasting time delays timetabling no prior exp. planning for action  uncertainty on our way unexpected delays/fears w a i t is o v e r  145  no  wait  #5  APPENDIX D E N D R O G R A M C O P I N G  D A T A  P R O B L E M F O C U S E D  G  D I S P L A Y  C O P I N G } } } } } } }Information } Seeking } } } } } } } } Exercising } Restraint } } } } } } } } } } } Instrumental } Action } } } } }  - l o o k e d for newsletter stats (9) - p h o n e [the registry] (9) -talk to other people(6) -kept p h o n i n g o u r social w o r k e r (6) -get the m o n t h l y statistics(6) -phoned social worker(8) -went to SAPA for information(4) -we contacted [another agency](3) -phoned social worker, registry and O t t a w a (3) - w e m a d e other p h o n e calls too.(3) -phoned our social worker(7) -phoned our social worker(2) -And then, w e waited(7) - w e just sat a n d w a i t e d (9) -I tried not to b u g t h e m . (8) -set dates for p h o n e calls(2) -just wait(l) -took infant care class(7) -prepare the nursery(9) -explore other options - cover all the bases possible.(9) - b o u g h t cribs, w a l k e r s (8) -read newspapers for sales for babystuff(8) -applied to private agency(8) -got the kids r o o m s ready. (6) -approached private agency(6) -made sure there was a place that could be quickly turned into a nursery(4) - c h a n g e d s o m e things in h o m e s t u d y (4) -trying a lot o f different routes(3) -put o u r n a m e s o n b o t h lists.(l)  146  } } } } } } } } }  -went to SAP A, a s u p p o r t g r o u p , (4) -talk - pull each other up.(4) }-talk to other people are going t h r o u g h it ( 3 ) - t a l k t o e a c h o t h e r a b o u t it ( 3 ) -joined S A P A ( 7 ) -talking to spouse o r a friend (2) -talk to someone who's experienced the s a m e k i n d o f thing (1)  147  Mobilizing Support  E M O T I O N F O C U S E D C O P I N G -nothing w a s happening to me, eh, -1 thought, w h y worry -I w a s frustrated for [ m y wife] not for m y s e l f - i f it h a p p e n s , w e ' l l t h i n k a b o u t it -absorb myself in something else -just b e satisfied w i t h s o m e t h i n g else - i f it's g o i n g t o h a p p e n , it's g o i n g t o h a p p e n - f o r g e t it, w e ' l l n e v e r g e t a b a b y -overwork so y o u wouldn't think -I g o t v e r y angry, w i t h [husband] -I don't w a n t to talk (8) - d o i n g things just as a routine, in a p l o d d i n g kind o f fashion. (4) -didn't tell a lot o f p e o p l e ( 4 ) - h o p e n o b o d y a s k s a b o u t it(4) -I w a s sarcastic [in r e s p o n s e to questions](l) -put your emotions o n the shelf(l) -play a juggling act (4) - d o e s n ' t t a l k a b o u t it ( 1 ) -get a little n e g a t i v e [ r e s p o n d i n g to questions (6) - w e didn't anticipate a n adoption. (1) -focus attention o n living rather than waiting(l) -prepared to accept one child was enough(6) - g o t o [ t h e n u r s e r y ] a n d sit w i t h o n e of the teddy bears and say we're going to have a baby one day(9) - l o o k at the b a b y stuff a n d think, s o m e d a y it's g o i n g t o h a p p e n ( 6 ) -God has destined a baby for us(9) -felt w e failed, w e weren't g o o d e n o u g h ; I felt rejected(4) - k n e w it w o u l d b e m y f a u l t ( 7 ) -I'm probably too old already(9)  148  } } } Denial } } } } } } } } } } } }Distancing }Displacing } } } } } } } } } Redefinition } } } }Escape/ } Fantasy } } } }Self blame } }  

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