Exploring the Family Context Among Children Adopted From China: Perceptions of Pre-Adoption Factors, Post-Adoption Experiences, and the Quality of Parent-Child Relationships
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Within the context of international adoption, previous research has focused on parentchild attachment relationships and various aspects of the adoption process. However, less is known about other aspects of parent-child relationships (e.g., cohesion, conflict) within internationally adoptive families. Additionally, there is a need for research that explores both parent and child perceptions of the process of adoption - including pre- and post-adoptive factors - and its connection to the quality of parent-child relationships. This research utilized a qualitatively-oriented methodology to conduct separate, in-depth interviews with 10 adoptive Canadian mothers and their adopted Chinese children (aged 9 to 11 years). Results highlight parent and child reports of mainly strong, positive relationships. Several pre-adoption experiences are examined, including institutionalization, age at the time of adoption, and parental stress/expectations. A key finding concerns the link that adoptive parents perceive between the quality of their child's pre-adoptive care (i.e., mainly early institutionalized care) and the quality of their relationship. Interestingly, this link is perceived in two different ways - either as a challenge for the parent-child relationship or as a means to strengthen it. Post-adoption experiences are also explored, including cultural socialization, creating a transracial family, discussing adoption, parental stress, and sibling involvement. A key finding involves parent and child reports that cultural socialization efforts (i.e., familiarizing children with Chinese culture) are linked to more positive parent-child relationships. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to theory and practice within the context of international adoption.