Understanding Options Counseling Experiences in Adoption: A Qualitative Analysis of First/Birth Parents and Professionals.
Madden, Elissa. Ryan, Scott. Aguiniga, Donna. Verbovaya, Olga. Crawford, Marcus. Gobin, Chandler.
University of Texas at Arlington. School of Social Work.
Permission to Copy
Published: March 2017
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
525 Broadway, 6th floor
New York, NY 10012
Sponsoring Organization: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Lynn Franklin Fund.
To gain a fuller understanding of the context in which options are presented and discussed with expectant parents facing a crisis pregnancy, a study was conducted to determine the frequency and manner with which adoption agencies and other adoption practitioners provide expectant parents with information about their full range of options. The first phase of this study explored the type and nature of information provided to 28 expectant parents who were considering making an adoption plan for their child and included a survey of first/birth parents and a survey of adoption professionals. The second phase of the study interviewed 20 adoption professionals to explore in greater depth the overall context in which options are discussed with expectant parents. Findings indicate; first/birth mothers frequently experienced an outside force or influence exerting pressure as they made a decision about their pregnancy; several first/birth mothers discussed the influence of the adoption professionals working their case and/or the prospective adoptive parents on their decision-making process; it was common for first/birth mothers to express concern about their lack of financial stability during their pregnancy; many first/birth mothers experienced a lack of social and emotional support during and after the pregnancy and later, after the adoption was consummated; among mothers who shared a positive experience with adoption professionals, the common element appeared to be adoption professionals who were forthright about their options and the potential consequences of a relinquishment decision; several of the mothers shared unacceptable interactions by professionals that could be interpreted by some as subtle abuse and coercion; and a deep and abiding sense of regret was felt by many of the first/birth mothers in the days, months, and years following their decision to relinquish their rights to their child for adoption. Recommendations are made for professionals and for expectant parents. 3 tables and 16 references.
birth mothers; adoption; voluntary relinquishment; unplanned pregnancy; unwanted pregnancy; pregnancy counseling; parental attitudes; consent to adoption