Where the Personal and Professional Self Meet: Understanding Nurses' Lived Experiences of Adoption
Foli, Karen J.
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(41st Biennial Convention) Problem: Nurses render care to members of the adoption triad: the birth parents, adoptive parents and the child. Yet, understanding nurses' perceptions of and interactions with members of the adoption triad (AT) have not been explored. Purpose: To explore the lived experiences of nurses and the care rendered to the AT in various clinical settings using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach.� Methods/Analysis: At the completion of a web based quantitative survey, participants were invited to add text about their own experiences in caring for the AT. From these responses, coding was conducted and themes revealed via Colaizzi's qualitative method. Reflexive notes and discussions were also maintained; one researcher is an adoptive mother. Subjects: These qualitative data represented feedback from a sub-set of the parent sample of ninety-seven (97) nurses from 25 states in the United States. Seventeen narratives were coded by the researchers. Twelve of the nurses who forwarded narratives were also AT mothers. Results: Themes that emerged from the data were: 1) Where the personal and professional self meet (caregiver and receiver of care); 2) a rollercoaster of emotions and attitudes (loss and joy; grief and healing); 3) unique contexts of adoptive families: "We all have a history"; and 4) bringing AT moms' needs to light/meeting the needs (education, advocacy, and support/communication). Interpretation of Findings: Adoption triad nurses may hold dual roles in adoption contexts, those of caregiver and adoptive or birth parent. The themes that emerged reflected insights gained from both personal and professional roles and offer specific interventions that would enhance psychosocial functioning pre-adoption as relinquishment decisions are made and postadoption as adoptive moms make the transition to parenting. Nursing education and practice guidelines should include care rendered to the adoption triad.