The Experiences of Adoptive Mothers: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Harris, Charlotte 2012. The Experiences of Adoptive Mothers: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsHarris, Charlotte
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Research suggests that little is known about the experiences of adoptive parents, particularly adoptive mothers, who are seen to be a hidden population within the academic literature. This study explores the experiences of nine adoptive mothers living in a small unitary authority in the UK. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data, which was then analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes emerged from the data: ‘Becoming ‘Mum’’, ‘The Melting Pot of Emotion’, ‘Social Stigma of Adoption’. Demonstrating the complexity and diversity of the women’s experience, three less common themes were also identified: ‘Fragility of Adoption’, ‘The Reward of Adoption’, ‘The Child Mediating the Experience’. The women’s experience conveys the overwhelming nature of adoptive motherhood, and supports the notion of adoptive motherhood as a multifaceted social phenomenon. A parallel between these findings and the motherhood literature is seen, with the feminist discourse of society emerging from the women’s interviews. Of particular interest is the influence of psychological theory and the perceived continued social stigma on the experiences of adoptive mothers. It is argued that the insights the study provides are important for the professional practice of Educational Psychologists and Adoption Services, and future areas for exploration are suggested.

KeywordsInterpretative Phenomenological Analysis; Adoptive Mothers
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintMay 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited02 Apr 2013
Publisher's version
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