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Whatever happened to baby Mei? A phenomenological study of adoption appraisal in midlife

Grant, M. (2017). Whatever happened to baby Mei? A phenomenological study of adoption appraisal in midlife. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Although there is now accumulating evidence on the experiences and outcomes for internationally adopted adults, and recent findings suggest an association between outcomes and individuals’ views of their own adoption, there has been little systematic examination of the adoption appraisal process beyond childhood. This study focuses on adopted women’s perceptions of how being internationally adopted in early childhood has affected their subsequent lives.

68 women of Chinese ethnicity in their 40s and 50s, adopted as young girls in the 1960s from orphanages in Hong Kong to the UK, participated in face-to-face interviews. Based on a phenomenological analysis of the resulting data, I argue that appraisal of adoption (including adjustment to adoption-related losses and gains) is a multi-faceted and dynamic process that continues long beyond childhood and adolescence. Particular attention is paid to how women describe talking about adoption to strangers and loved ones and how they frame their responses in the context of the research interview.

Out of this work emerges a clearer picture of the importance of understanding individual perceptions of what constitutes a ‘positive’ adoption outcome. By adding to and extending the (mainly US-based) emerging body of literature on internationally adopted adults, the results of this study provide a starting point for thinking about the future development of a model of understanding adoption appraisal in adulthood: one that builds on, but is distinct from, models of children’s adoption appraisal.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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