Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Applied Communication Research 38:2 (2010), pp 127-144. doi 10.1080/00909881003639536


Copyright © 2010 National Communication Association; published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


Grounded in the interpretive paradigm and framed by relational dialectics theory, the present study addressed the question: What discourses interpenetrate to reflect dialectical unity as parents communicate about their child’s adoption? Interviews with 40 parents across 31 visibly adoptive families—families with an obvious lack of biological connection—highlighted four instances of dialectical unity resulting from the following discursive struggles: (a) pride and imperfection; (b) love, constraint, and sacrifice; (c) difference, pride, and enrichment; and (d) legitimacy, expansion, similarity, and difference. Each struggle contains seemingly disparate discourses that, in combination, contribute to how parents discursively make sense of adoption. Practical implications of these findings are discussed to provide insight to researchers, educators, and members of visibly adoptive families.