The Affect of Adoption on a Couple’s Intimate Relationship

Scherman, R
Mullenberg, R.
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Conference Contribution
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The New Zealand Psychological Society supported by the Psychology Department, the University of Auckland

Although adoption research literature is fairly extensive, the majority of research tends to focus on the parent/child relationship, or how the child copes with the adoption. Very little research has considered the relationship between the adoptive parents, despite a large body of literature about how new babies negatively impact a couple’s intimate relationship. As there are a number of unique stressors associated with adoption, it could be expected that adoptive couples might also see a decline in marital quality as they adapt to adoptive parenthood. In-depth interviews were conducted with two married couples, exploring how adoption has a"ected the intimate relationship between the husband and wife. !e focus of the interviews was the issues that adoptive parents face in the #rst year after adopting their children, in an attempt to gain an increased understanding of how these issues a"ect their marital relationship.

Using thematic analysis to analyse data, three themes emerged: (1) women drive the process, (2) child cements the parent relationship, and (3) the waiting. !e results of the study indicated that both couples adapted to adoptive parenthood di"erently. Couple A indicated their marriage was strengthened as a result. Couple B indicated that their relationship has deteriorated since adoption. Findings from the current study suggest a possible need to develop support systems for adoptive parents, to assist them in their adjustment to parenthood, similar to those for biological parents.

New Zealand Psychological Society Annual Conference held at University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 2013-09-06 to 2013-09-09
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