THU July 12, 2018 THU July 12, 2018
1:30 pm 1:30 pm
Cartier I Cartier I

Béatrice Decaluwe

Child Psychologist, Private practice

Marie-Andrée Poirier

Associate professor, School of Social Work, University of Montréal

Geneviève Pagé

Associate professor, Social Work Department, Université de Québec en Outaouais

Carole Côté

Professional coordinator, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal

Anne-Marie Piché

Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Université du Québec à Montréal

Elissa Madden

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Baylor University

Donna Aguiniga

Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Alaska Anchorage

Scott Ryan

Dean, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington

Brenda Romanchik

Therapist, Private Practice

Elliotte Harrington

Graduate student in counselling, Montclair State University

Paper session: Birth mothers

Adoption from care : Maternity narratives of birth mothers

The loss of a child is a difficult experience for birth mothers who release their child for adoption either voluntarily or through court proceedings. Research suggests that birth mothers experience sadness, anger, loss and guilt. This experience could significantly alter their capacity to bound to another child afterwards.

Through 13 interviews conducted with 7 birth mothers, this study aims to explore the reality of birth mothers whose child is adopted as a result of the youth protection intervention. This presentation will focus on how birth mothers narrates their experience of maternity and how they perceive their relation to their child before and beyond adoption.

In line with Marinopoulos clinical work (2010), result reveal two divergent narrative in a similar context of psychosocial adversity. For some the act of relinquishing their child was seen as an act of protection and a way to curse their destiny, while for others it has been a negative trigger who add up to other significant difficulties. Parallel with psychodynamic theories and the concept of psychological presence will be drawn and suggestions for intervention will be addressed.

The Relationship Between Time and Birth Mother Satisfaction with Relinquishment

Purpose: Prior research suggests that a birth mother’s adjustment and/or satisfaction following relinquishment is impacted by a number of factors (e.g., circumstances of the relinquishment and the availability of a caring support system). What is less clear is the role that time plays in a birth mother’s satisfaction with the decision to place her child for adoption. Therefore, this analysis examines the influence of the length of time since relinquishment on birth mothers’ satisfaction with their decision to place their child for adoption.

Methods: Women who had relinquished an infant for adoption in the United States during the last 25 years were eligible to participate in the online survey. Participants (N=223) were recruited online using convenience and snowball sampling methods. Descriptive statistics were used to describe sample characteristics and ordinary least squares regression modeling tested sample characteristics and factors related to relinquishment as predictors of parental self-reported satisfaction with their decision. All variables were entered into a forward stepwise regression model.

Findings: Respondents were a mean age of 34.51 (SD = 8.68) years. The vast majority were white (87.4%) and had at least some college education or more (77.6%). The final multivariate regression model included current contact with the child, educational level, employment status, and age of the respondent as the significant predictors of satisfaction with relinquishment. The model explained 27.1% of the variance in satisfaction (r2 = .271, Adjusted r2 = .257). Respondents who had contact with the child reported an average 1.254 greater satisfaction score on a scale of 1-5 compared to those without contact (𝛽 = 1.254, t = 6.077, p < .001), after controlling for other predictors. Similarly, those reporting full-time employment reported 0.564 greater satisfaction than those with a different employment status (𝛽 = 0.564, t = 3.015, p = .003). Having at least a college education was associated with lower satisfaction of 0.813 points on average, compared to those reporting less education (𝛽 = -.813, t = 3.651, p < .001). Finally, for every year of age, less satisfaction with relinquishment was reported, on average 0.029 points less on the same scale (𝛽 = -0.029, t = 2.656, p = .008), after controlling for other predictors.

Implications: The results find that for many birth mothers, satisfaction is not static. Rather, time since relinquishment was found to have a significant inverse relationship with birth mother satisfaction regarding the decision to place their child for adoption. This research suggests that the act of relinquishing is a life-altering experience for many that has long-term implications. Understanding factors that influence birth mothers’ satisfaction with their decision to relinquish can help adoption advocates tailor services to ensure that sufficient support is available to birth mothers throughout the life course.

The Post-Placement Counseling Experiences of Women Who Have Placed a Child for Adoption

Placing a child for adoption can be a life changing experience. Some first/birth mothers report feelings of depression, anxiety, posttrauma, and grief. Due to social and cultural influences, they may feel rejected or isolated. They may view themselves in the negative way that they may be perceived by family, friends, and society in general. Power imbalances due to influences such as sexism, racism and classism often lead to the pressured or coerced relinquishment of a child. All of these feelings and experiences, among many other life experiences, may lead a first/birth mother to seek and attend counseling after the placement of her child.

The purpose of the qualitative study was to explore the post-placement counseling experiences of women who have placed a child for adoption. Through semi-structured interviews, the following issues were examined: why these first/birth mothers sought counseling; what their feelings were about how their counselors addressed their experiences; what they perceived as their counselors’ attitudes towards adoption and first/birth mothers; their opinions of their counselors’ adoption competency; and how counseling affected their lives. The participants were seven first/birth mothers who varied in racial, ethnic, socio-economic backgrounds, and degree of adoption openness. They all placed between 1998 and 2010, and constitute a more recent cohort of first/birth mothers than has been typically explored in the literature.

The data was analyzed using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach, and by applying a feminist framework. Findings from this study indicate that these first/birth mothers: came to counseling due to experiencing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and panic attacks; felt dismissed or invalidated by their counselors and often terminated counseling early; felt that their counselors agreed with at least three common societal myths regarding adoption and birth mothers; felt that their counselors were ignorant of adoption-related issues in very specific ways, had very limited training; and revealed a continuum of the helpfulness of their counseling experiences. Implications for counselor training and education will be discussed, and suggestions for specific clinical interventions will be provided. Limitations of the study will be addressed.