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West J Nurs Res. 2010 Apr;32(3):379-400. doi: 10.1177/0193945909351299. Epub 2009 Dec 29.

Depression in adoptive parents: a model of understanding through grounded theory.

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Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.


A limited number of studies have explored parental depression in the postadoption time periods and these studies frequently lack a social context of the adoptive parent experience. The objective of this study is to form a midrange theoretical interpretation of parental postadoption depression as shared by adoptive parents and experts through a grounded theory approach. Semistructured interviews of adoptive parents, who acknowledge being depressed after the child is placed in the home, and adoption experts are audiotaped, transcribed, and coded to reveal themes. In total, 30 interviews are conducted. Researchers are also participant-observers during an adoptive parent support group meeting. Data reveal recurrent themes in relation to postadoption depression. These themes take into account the various contexts of adoption (international and domestic, public and private, etc.). Parents express unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations in the domains of self, child, family or friends, and society or others. A theoretical model is presented to facilitate the understanding of depression reported by adoptive parents.

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