University of Leicester
2016 Hull ND DClinPsy.pdf (3.5 MB)

Parents’ Experiences of Caring for Adopted Children: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

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posted on 2016-10-17, 13:22 authored by Nicola Hull
Literature Review: Qualitative research was reviewed to better understand parents’ experiences of caring for children who had been adopted from care. A systematic search of the existing literature was conducted and a quality appraisal tool was employed to select 10 studies that explored adoptive care-giving from a multi-national perspective. A meta-synthesis identified six experiential themes: Preparedness and adjustment; identity and competency; responsiveness and reflectivity; commitment and resilience; containment and support; and cohesion and integration. The findings suggested that parents felt unsupported post-adoption, and prompted clinical recommendations about how multi-agency teams could work collaboratively with parents and their family networks to ensure that adopters felt supported. More research is warranted to understand the experiences of British adoptive parents. Research Report: The experiences of six British parents who self-identified that caring for an adoptee had been more challenging than initially expected were explored using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three super-ordinate themes were identified: ‘living in a different world’ illustrated the emotional distress and social isolation that adopters encountered; ‘what’s going on in their little minds’ illuminated parents’ intense desire to make sense of their ‘damaged’ children and provide reparative care; whilst ‘parenting on another level’ alluded to adopters’ experiences of striving for balance and holding hope for the future. Implications for specialist inter-agency working were discussed and included increased professional collaboration, offering of psychological therapies to ameliorate adopters’ distress, and greater partnership working to facilitate parents in sustaining their care-giving roles. Recommendations for further research were to explore parents’ experiences of care-giving at different phases of the adoption life-cycle, and investigate powerful transferences occurring between parent and child that seemed to impact on parents’ experiences of care-giving. Critical Appraisal: A reflective account of the research process has been provided and highlights issues that emerged as the researcher endeavoured to undertake good quality research.



Morgan, Gareth; Melluish, Stephen

Date of award


Author affiliation

Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



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