Online group discussions with adolescent intercountry adoptees in New Zealand: a qualitative investigation into their experiences

Lee, Hanhee
Scherman, Rhoda
Gerbic, Philippa
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Master of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

The current study investigated the experiences of intercountry adoption from the perspectives of adolescent intercountry adoptees in New Zealand. Many adoption studies have focused on specific developmental domains of younger adoptees, and collected data from secondary sources (e.g., adoptive parents). Additionally, adoption studies in New Zealand are scarce. For these reasons, the author decided to conduct a research project.

This qualitative descriptive study recruited three adolescents aged between 16 and 18 years. They were adopted from Russia to New Zealand. They discussed their experiences and opinions about intercountry adoption in synchronous (i.e. real-time) online group discussions over eight sessions using Blackboard’s Elluminate online chat space. The discussion topics included early institutional life; transition to New Zealand; ethnic identity; attitudes toward adoption; disclosure of adoptive status; feeling different from others; school life; birth family and adoptive family.

Content analysis was carried out and four themes were identified. The intercountry adoptees said that (1) they need love and a sense of security, (2) they have a desire to fully integrate into their adoptive country (3) they want to have positive relationships with their adoptive parents and peers, and (4) their origins are also an important aspect of their lives. In light of these findings, implications for intercountry teens, families, and professionals have been suggested. Strengths and limitations of the current research project and future research are also discussed.

Intercountry adoption , Qualitative descriptive study , Online group discussion
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