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Title: The birth mother and the evolution of adoption policy and practice in England since 1926
Author: Sandhu, J.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2012
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This PhD is an empirical investigation of how the evolution of adoption agency policy and practice in the twentieth century has impacted upon birth mothers’ motives for relinquishment, and their experiences of adoption. It examines how birth mothers have reached decisions about the adoption of their children, their role in the adoption process and how these answers have varied historically. Further, it attempts to understand the relationship between birth mothers’ experiences and wider moral, social and policy environments and how adoption agencies have mediated that relationship. Attitudes towards initiating and maintaining contact are also examined. Understanding changes in birth mothers’ options, motives and experiences of adoption have important implications for the adoption support services offered by adoption agencies. This thesis used a mixed methods approach, combining documentary analysis, with interviews and focus groups. This PhD draws upon archival materials collated from adoption case files, adoption panel meeting minutes (APMM), annual reports and other official documentation. It also utilizes evidence collated interviews carried out with six former Family Care personnel and professionals from six other adoption agencies, along with two focus groups carried out with the seven members of Family Care’s current adoption team. Historical research was fundamental to the methodological approach utilised in this PhD in order to uncover changes in birth mothers’ motives and experiences of adoption. In empirically evidencing the reasons for changes in birth mothers’ options, motives and experiences of adoption throughout the 20th century, this thesis makes important contributions to understanding the constraints posed by birth mothers’ gendered and socio-economic identities on their options and motives for adoption. This study also provides a theoretical framework to understand the evolution of child adoption in terms of historic periods, characterised by differing social, moral, religious and legal contexts. This theoretical framework is used to develop a holistic understanding of how different factors came together in the lives, choices and experiences of birth mothers, through the mediating influence of adoption agencies policies and practices. The theoretical framework has been important in clarifying the role of adoption agencies and adoption social workers in how they have shaped the choices and options available to birth mothers. Whilst doing so, it has been possible to map and evidence the influence of changing ideological and professional discourses; changes in agency religious affiliations and moral agendas; and changes in the external policy environment in birth mothers’ options and experiences of adoption. Findings show that these factors have collectively been responsible for birth mothers’ changing options, motives and experiences of adoption.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available