An exploration of the experience of birth mothers who relinquished a child for adoption between 1960 and 1990 and who subsequently initiated contact with the relinquished child: the clinical implications for practitioners

Kane, Bernadette (2018) An exploration of the experience of birth mothers who relinquished a child for adoption between 1960 and 1990 and who subsequently initiated contact with the relinquished child: the clinical implications for practitioners. DProf thesis, Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute.

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Abstract

This is a phenomenological study exploring the experiences of seven birth mothers who relinquished a child for adoption between 1960 and 1990. The aim of the study is to understand the depth and breadth of the experience of relinquishment and to establish whether the impact of relinquishment is long-term. This study explores the relationship between the moral values and social policies that existed during the era of the study and how these factors influenced the birth mothers’ decision-making. The objective of the study is to use the findings to develop therapeutic guidance for practitioners working with birth mothers who have lost a child through adoption. The data was gathered through semi-structured interviews and was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The women provided compelling accounts of lives consisting of secrecy, shame and loss, harsh treatment by family and professionals, and an absence of any emotional support. Additionally, most of their stories had not been heard before. Three master themes emerged from the findings: 1) The power of social stigmatisation; 2) The unique experience of relinquishment; 3) Experiencing psychological distress. The study shows that the impact of the experience of relinquishment is indeed long term, with a diminishing of the intensity of emotions over time. The lack of acknowledgement of the experience was a significant contributory factor in the longevity of the impact.
Clinical implications and recommendations for practitioners who support birth mothers in Adoption Support Agencies are presented. It is anticipated that the recommendations will also be useful for practitioners currently supporting birth mothers whose children have been, or are presently being, taken into care and subsequently adopted. Many of the themes identified in this study, such as loss and stigmatisation, have been shown in the literature to be also present for this group. The findings and clinical implications would therefore have some relevance in supporting these birth mothers.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Research Areas: B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Metanoia Institute
Item ID: 25862
Depositing User: Vimal Shah
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2018 14:54
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2019 14:58
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/25862

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