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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The life cycle experiences and influences of adoption through Aboriginal adult’s stories Arsenault, April Ann


This study explored the life cycle experiences and influences of adoption of eight Aboriginal adults (six female and two male). The study was qualitative, used categorical content analysis, life cycle developmental theory, Aboriginal world-view and storytelling. The purposes of the study were to hear the voices of Aboriginal adoptees; to understand how adoption has influenced Aboriginal adoptees lives, and to gain knowledge that can make a difference in the practice of the adoption of Aboriginal children. Interviews were conducted, data was analyzed and the following developmental markers were extracted from the data: growing, discovering, reconnecting and knowing. Themes emerged in each of the markers. The results of this study indicate that how and when the adoption story is told is a very significant experience for an adoptee. Aboriginal culture was very much missing for these storytellers as all were placed in non-Aboriginal homes. For those who choose to search for birth family, they must first go back to a period of which they know little about (birth) before moving forward. Although each participant's story is unique, they also shared experiences such as being told of their adoption, searching and/or reconnecting with their birth families, gaining awareness of their Aboriginal culture, developing personal views on adoption and knowing who they are. Another finding was that their journey was impacted by their experience and that their experience with adoption will be a life long process of healing and resistance. Implications of the study show that culture is a fundamental aspect in a system that aims to work in the best interests of the child. Governments, agencies and Aboriginal communities need to work together to create policy and practices that support Aboriginal adoptees, biological/adoptive families and Aboriginal communities. Systems and policies need to support the creation of more Aboriginal foster and adoptive homes and schools of social work and Aboriginal communities need to support the enrolment of Aboriginal students in pursuing social work. This study illustrates how storytelling, the traditional form of oral history is a powerful and effective method to conduct research with Aboriginal people and with individuals who have experienced colonization.

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