Parental Experiences of Intercountry Adoption: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Study
Intercountry adoption, where children are born in one country and adopted by families in another country, has become an increasing global phenomenon (Scherman & Harré, 2004). As indicated by a review of the literature, the research in relation to intercountry adoptees provides contradictory findings in almost every area. However, since there is some evidence to suggest that a proportion of intercountry adoptees are at greater risk of developing mental health difficulties (Van Ijzendoorn & Juffer, 2006) further research, particularly in the UK, is required. As Anjudo (1988) posits, parents are their children‟s major reference group, and this research is therefore aimed at exploring the experience of parenting an intercountry adoptee. A qualitative approach, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1996) was chosen as the most suitable methodology. This approach aims to explore in detail how participants are making sense of their world, and the meanings that experiences hold for them. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six participants who had accessed or were accessing support from a specialist Adoption and Fostering team. The analysis of the transcribed verbatim accounts yielded four super-ordinate themes; „the importance of resolve and tenacity‟, „blood versus water‟, „weathering the storm of parenthood‟ and „the complexity of cultivating a heritage‟. The results were consistent with some of the existing theoretical, research and clinical literature. Additionally they also provided some new areas for consideration such as the emotional difficulties in negotiating the process of intercountry adoption. Additionally, areas for future research were proposed. Due to the small sample size, implications and recommendations are considered tentatively and include (1) prospective intercountry adoptive parents would benefit from the provision of pre and post-adoption supportive groups, (2) intercountry adoptive families would benefit from greater availability of multi-disciplinary specialist teams to address their needs, (3) there is a role for cultural consultants to aid both adoptive parents and professionals in their work with intercountry adoptive families. Since the number of children internationally who need new families continues to increase it is important to continue to find improved ways to support intercountry adoptive families.