Parent Experiences and Perceptions of the Adoption Process

Graduation Year


Publication Date

Spring 2022


At the request of the author, this paper is not available for download. Bona fide researchers may consult it by visiting the University Archives in Tate Archives & Special Collections; contact archives@iwu.edu for details.


Adoption is a popular way for individuals to grow their idealized family form. I studied adoption to more broadly see how families are making decisions and managing emotions on parenting, before even having a child in their home. Sociological research on the adoption process and experiences of adoptive parents offers an explanation of these relationships while also considering outside social factors. Using in-depth qualitative interviews with 15 adoptive parents, I investigated the adoption process as a whole and examined why older children struggle in finding a forever home. My findings suggest that individuals who struggle with infertility are likely to adopt but preferred to adopt younger children. This reveals that parenting is often situated around being present for all for a child’s “firsts” and developmental stages. Adoptive parents also expressed a need for support before, during, and after the adoption process. This shows us the importance of continued education, community, resources for adoptive families throughout their child’s life. Studying adoptive parents’ experiences not only help us better understand the adoption process, it also reveals important insights about parenting more broadly, like how families are defined and created.



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