Parental experiences of relational stress and adjustment in the first 5 years after adoption
The purpose of the study was to gain an understanding of the relational stress and adjustments adoptive parents experienced within the first five years after the adoption placement. The participants involved adoptive parents who had completed their adoption within years 2011-2015, within the Gauteng region of South Africa. It was hoped that with an understanding of the adoptive parents' real and "felt" experiences would contribute to knowledge that will enable adoption social workers to render a much needed holistic service to adoptive families. The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee and Faculty Board of the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus (NWU). Consent was also obtained from the Gauteng Provincial Manager of the Department of Social Development. A literature study was completed in order to obtain the necessary background upon which the findings of the empirical study could be based. Different foci came to the fore during the literature search which involved aspects such as historical changes within adoptions, the adoption process, challenges experienced by adoptive parents, the family stress theory, services and interventions available to adoptive parents overseas and the possible role of the social worker in support services within South Africa. The researcher utilised a qualitative research approach and a phenomenological design which allowed her to, with the use of an unstructured interview schedule, capture the adoptive parents' experiences of relational stress and adjustment in the first five years after the adoption placement. The study involved a two-fold sampling design namely, purposive and snowball sampling which are both non-probability sampling techniques. Twelve participants were selected to participate in the study. Thematic analysis was performed using Tesch's eight steps to data analysis to analyse data. During the analysis of data, two main themes were identified namely 'Experiences of relational stress' and 'Experiences of adjustments'. The findings have been constructed according to different themes which highlight the experiences of the adoptive parents. The findings of the study showed that relational stress and adjustment influences the adoptive placement in terms of relationship building with the child and on occasion even relationship breakdown of support networks and systems. The family stress theory is evident within the findings showing how environmental pressures and stress experienced impact relational quality if resources to address challenges are not in place. Considering the above, the Department of Social Development should consider the importance of supportive services required by adoptive families. Policies and protocols should be developed in order for accredited adoption agencies and social workers to really act in the best interest of the adopted child.
- Health Sciences