Student Author(s)

Samantha Hartman
Joy Hartman

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Deborah Sturtevant

Document Type


Event Date



This project, “International Adoption: Parent Perspectives” is a follow-up of the Milk and Medicine Evaluation (2013). The Milk & Medicine Program is a supplemental feeding program for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Lusaka, Zambia. An evaluation of the program in May 2013 included a trip to Zambia and provided insight into variables surrounding orphan care, systemic and governmental issues, and the depth of need for sustainable global development. The program evaluation exposed the need for continued research in the field of social work and OVC care, while equipping the research team, made up of two social work faculty and two undergraduate student research assistants, with excellent analytical and pragmatic research skills. The experience working on the Milk and Medicine Project in Zambia combined with personal family international adoptive experience led to an interest in exploring the world of international adoption - one aspect on the vast spectrum of OVC care. We were specifically interested in the perspective of adoptive parents. Using a snowball method of sampling, twelve interviews were conducted with parents who have adopted internationally, representing seven countries. This exploratory study aimed to learn more about the perspective of adoptive parents concerning three categories that framed our thematic outcomes: pre-adoption, the adoption process, and post-adoption. Derived from Grounded Theory and an Open Coding process, results grouped around the three categories and nineteen micro themes, some of which included: motivation to adopt, resilience, grief and loss, attachment, and post-adoption support. Given the exploratory nature of the study and its interdisciplinary and complex nature, there is a large platform for future research.