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Communicatively constructing identities: An exploration of the multivocal, dialectical process of identity -work for parents of visibly *adopted children

Meredith Marko, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

As the number of families formed through visible adoption continues to increase, so does the need to understand how members of these families communicatively experience their relationships. Framed by the interpretive paradigm, the goal of this study was to explore how parents discursively attempt to construct personal and familial identities. Grounded in relational dialectics theory, a dialogical theory that sensitizes researchers to the constitutive process of communication, the researcher conducted 31 in-depth interviews with 40 parents of visibly adopted children to investigate how parents discursively attempt to construct their familial, parental, and visibly adopted children's identities. Research questions were: (a) What discourses do parents invoke as they discursively attempt to construct their familial, parental, and visibly adopted children's identities? and (b) What dialectical tensions, if any, do parents experience as they discursively attempt to construct their familial, parental, and visibly adopted children's identities? This study offers a powerful example of the multivocal and dialectical process of identity-work for parents of visibly adopted children. Specifically, the researcher describes twenty-eight discourses parents invoke during identity-work which can be thematically grouped into five supra-discourses: (a)discourses of validation, (b) discourses of diversity, (c) discourses of integration, (d) discourses of candor, and (e) discourses of discretion and ten dialectical tensions active in parents' identity-work: (a) similarity and difference , (b) invisibility and visibility, (c) integration and distance, (d) fortune and misfortune , (e) openness and closedness and (f) community and privacy. (g) legitimacy, expansions, similarity, and difference, (h) love, constraint, and sacrifice , (i) pride and imperfection, (j) difference, pride, and enrichment. The findings suggest the process of identity-work for parents of visibly adopted children is multivocal, dialectical, multi-layered, and often-contested by members and non-members of their close personal networks. Implications of these findings are discussed to provide insight to researchers and individuals who interact with members of families formed through visible adoption, particularly new visibly adoptive parents. ^

Subject Area

Speech Communication|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Marko, Meredith, "Communicatively constructing identities: An exploration of the multivocal, dialectical process of identity -work for parents of visibly *adopted children" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3236912.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3236912

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