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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A descriptive study of the adoption experience of adolescents and their families Gamlin, Sandra J.


A descriptive study was conducted to investigate the adoption experience within the family. Adoptive families who participated in this study were assumed to be a relatively heterogeneous sample of the target population - families with at least one adopted child who had been adopted early in life, and who was presently 14-18 years of age. Thirteen adoptive families participated in the study. Qualitative data regarding each individual's perception of the adoption experience was obtained through semi-structured interviews. Each participant also completed the Family Environment Scale (Moos, 1974), which was used as a descriptive measure only. Data from the interviews underwent a qualitative data analysis to arrive at the themes and patterns that described the adoptee's and the adoptive parents' experiences. Parent-child perceptual discrepancies were also analysed to assess the similarities and the differences in family perceptions regarding the adoption experience. Conclusions that can be drawn based on the results of the qualitative analysis is that adoptive families appear to be vulnerable to problems during the adolescent stage of the family life cycle because of the adoptee's emerging curiosity and the problems of openly communicating these concerns within the family. Results from this study also point to the need for adopting couples to receive education regarding the role of adoptive parenthood, and counsellors who work with adoptive families should be aware of when the factors of adoption can contribute to family difficulties and dysfunction

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