Adoption: the birthmother's perspective
Keenan, Penelope (Penny)
The present study was based on open ended interviews with SIX birthmothers who placed a child for adoption no less than ten years ago. The aim of the research was to gain the birthmother's perspective of this event. The findings revealed six major themes. These were the role of the birthmother's mother in decisions surrounding adoption; secrecy and shame; societal attitudes; grief and loss; reunion; the role of the birthfather. Consistent with previous research this study found that feelings of grief and loss were significant regardless of the time since the adoption. Reunion was found to have varying effects on feelings of grief and loss. Differences were found between participants who gave birth in the 1960s and participants who gave birth in the mid 1970s and early 1980s in relation to the experience of secrecy and shame. In the present study the birthmother's mother was found to have a dominant influence over the decision to adopt. This study also suggests that the birthmother's experience of relinquishment has changed over time, largely as a result of shifts in societal attitudes. Despite the absence of the birthfather in the literature referring to adoption, in the present study, the birthfather's involvement was found to be important. Future research on the birthfather's role in adoption, including his legal rights is suggested. Several sub-themes were also found to be important in the present research. These were religion; the Domestic Purposes Benefit; socio-economic factors; legal aspects surrounding adoption; and anniversaries.
Advisor: Rich, Peter; Ballard, Keith
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Education
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis