Abstract

When a child is adopted from a country abroad, adoptive parents are faced with a myriad of decisions, both before, during and after the adoption process, that have a direct effect on how their child develops. Exploratory research inquired into the motivations behind adopting internationally versus domestically, the adoption process, parent-child relations, the issue of race, and more. The main research questions were: What are the experiences of raising an internationally adopted child? How do parents work to preserve their child’s culture while simultaneously raising them in American society? To what degree do they prioritize cultural socialization and why? This research attempted to understand the realities of raising an adopted child from abroad in hopes of contributing to the eventual enhancement of culture integration in internationally adoptive families. Qualitative methods were used, involving eleven semi-structured interviews with parents of international children across the United States that were found using a convenience sample. Findings of this research include: adoptive parents of international children value culture preservation yet feel like they should be incorporating it more into their lives; parents seek a strong community and see those connections as beneficial for themselves and their children; barriers to cultural socialization include the waning interest of their adopted children in their birth culture and the location of the family; parents are engaged in an ongoing struggle to balance preserving their child’s birth culture and promoting their assimilation in American society, attempting to establish a strong sense of identity and high self esteem in their children; and ITRA and same race families face challenges regarding identity formation, self esteem, and overall development of their children, but ITRA families see these as more relevant to their child’s physical difference and race.

First Advisor

Leon Grunberg

Degree Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2013

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