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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Chinese-adopted children's adoptive parents' narratives

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AsGirl_000004802916Medium.jpgA recently published article in Adoption Quarterly by April Chatham-Carpenter explored the narratives that adoptive parents of internationally adopted Chinese children construct about the circumstances around their child's abandonment or relinquishment.

The study was conducted to explore the story narratives that adoptive parents use, and what is included and left out in these stories.

In Chatham-Carpenter's qualitative study, the author found that adoptive parents tell a "dominant narrative" in their stories to their children, in which they attempt to humanize their child's biological parents decisions,and counternarratives that seem to be an attempt to make the story more palatable for the adoptive parents feelings rather than their child's.

Parents in the study often included details about their reasons for adopting, the "referral" news, and the day the parents met the child along with their guesses about the reasons the child was abandoned or placed.

Birth parents and birth parent decisions/actions were mostly described in positive ways, portraying them as "loving" but "victims of something larger, outside their control."

Practitioners working with adoptive parents may find this article informative and helpful in training pre-adoptive parents about ways to talk about adoption with their child.

The article is available at

1 Comment

I was very excited when I saw this study but I can't get to it yet -- it's embargoed. I have been reading a lot about narrative construction in adoption (because my master's project touches on it) and it is so, so fascinating.

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