Transitions of Adoptive Parents: A Longitudinal Mixed Methods Analysis

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As adoptive parents create a new family, they face myriad changes both pre-and post-placement of their child. The aim of this study was to describe parent perceptions and depressive symptoms during this transition via reports collected with an online survey. Using content analysis, we analyzed a total of 110 responses from 64 parents at three time points: 4–6 weeks pre-placement, and 4–6 weeks and 5–6 months post-placement. Five main themes were revealed: Transition from uncertainty to a new normal; unique experiences related to adoption; rest/fatigue: out of balance; life stressors; and faith/spirituality. Two subthemes were also identified: previous losses (pre-placement) and joy and love (post-placement). During the transition from pre-to post-placement, adoptive parents experience a unique passage, with both challenges and strengths exclusive to this group of parents. While acknowledging the commonalities of some parenting experiences, healthcare and adoption professionals should recognize the unique dynamics that adoption brings to families.HIGHLIGHTSIn addition to stressors experienced in life and due to the transition to a parenting role, adoptive parents encounter unique challenges.Psychiatric nurses should be aware of opportunities to therapeutically interact with parents before and after a child is placed in the home.Nurses’ awareness of the uncertainties prior to placement and post-placement adoption circumstances is needed to optimize parental functioning.Resiliency factors, such as spirituality, may strengthen individuals as they transition to the role of being adoptive parents.

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