In the past seven decades over 400,000 children born outside the U.S. have been adopted to U.S. citizens through intercountry adoption (U.S. State Department 2014, Evan B. Donaldson, 2002). Many of these children experienced trauma, malnutrition, abuse, neglect, prenatal exposure to alcohol and other drugs, and institutionalization and nearly eight percent of intercountry adopted children under 18 in 2010 had at least one intellectual, developmental or mental health disability as according to the U.S. Census (Kreider, 2014). Some adoptive parents choose to place their child in out of home placement including residential treatment center, foster care, group home, or even another adoptive home as a result of their child�s disability. Research on the decision-making process of adoptive parents that placed their intercountry child either temporarily or permanently in out of home care does not exist in the current literature. Using a qualitative, constructivist grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2006) perspectives of adoptive parents who placed an intercountry adopted child in out of home placement due to the child�s disability were explored. Nineteen parents representing 16 families living in West Coast, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states participated in this study. Findings reveal that adoptive parents begin the intercountry adoption process with specific constructions about disability and intercountry adoption that impact the choices the parents make regarding the reasons they adopt, the services they choose (including out of home placements), and whether or not they consider dissolving their adoption. Additionally, adoptive parents experienced financial, social, relational and personal costs related to the choices they made in parenting their children and respond by making behavioral or emotional changes in their approach to parenting, leading them to re-define their concept of disability and adoption. These findings from this study highlight the importance of developing training programs for both adoption agency staff as well as prospective adoptive parents on adopting children with intellectual, developmental and mental health disabilities. Policy recommendations include requiring an increased minimum standard of training for adoption agency staff and prospective adoptive parents on disability content, better data collection on intercountry adoptive families, as well as a shift toward child welfare as the standard focus of intercountry adoption policy.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2015. Major: Social Work. Advisor: C. David Hollister. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 212 pages.
Adoptive Parent Perspectives on Placing an Intercountry Adopted Child with Disabilities in Out of Home Care.
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