The influence of education regarding the international adoption process in United States adoptive parents
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Challenges in adoptive families are well-documented; however, a lack of empirical research on the preadoption preparation of prospective adoptive parents for these common challenges exists. The purpose of this study was to seek a more thorough understanding of the education and preparation adoptive parents receive regarding potential child issues in international adoption. A qualitative research approach was utilized to gain more in depth knowledge of the international adoption experience that included preadoption education, transitioning into a new family structure, and services utilized. Data collection methods included semistructured, open-ended interviews, follow-up questionnaires, as well as researcher journals. Ten participants, who are parents of internationally adopted children, were recruited for this qualitative study. Three research questions regarding challenges adoptive parents experience, how preadoption services could be improved, and participants’ perceptions of preadoption training were developed. Six primary themes were identified from analysis of the data sources: purpose, attachment, challenges experienced, inconsistent preparation, support systems, and families utilizing mental health services. Recommendations for professional practice were presented, including more current and consistent training for prospective adoptive parents, as well as increasing the numbers of counselors with adoption expertise, and counselor training to address adoption issues. Recommendations for future research were also offered.
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