Peach, Donna (2017) The Experience of Be(com)ing a Prospective Adoptive Parent in 21st Century Britain. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Creating adoptive families for 'looked after children' requires the continuous recruitment of prospective adoptive parents. The British government's demand for an increase in the number of children adopted led to the extension of legalised constructs of who can become an adoptive parent. However, our understanding of prospective adopters' remains anchored to a pronatalist ideology that perpetuates a hegemonic view of motherhood and fatherhood. These socio-political dynamics interweave placing pressure on social workers, prospective adopters and children to replace the biological promise of perfect pronatalism with an idealised expectation of legally permanent familial solutions. In this thesis, I employed a social constructionist methodology to undertake two studies, the first of which thematically analysed discourses in the 2012-2013 National adoption week campaigns. The analysis found pronatalism rhetoric dominated the repertoires and notable by its absence was the non-construction of British, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) adoptive families. Other emotive discourses construct adoptive parents as 'selfless' with critical undertones for those who were too 'nervous' to take on the responsibility. The second study examined the lived experiences of 21 adults who self-identified as prospective adopters. Three emerging themes illuminated the complexity of adoption as a route to parenthood. Participants' experience of negotiating pronatalist dominant views of adoption influenced how they made sense of adoption as a choice and determined their sense of readiness. Contemplating adoption with their friends and families identified the complex socio-familial factors that influenced their motivations to adopt. Finally, their experiences led them to reconstitute their sense of self as they prepared for a future that may or may not include becoming an adoptive parent.

FINAL THESIS - Peach.pdf - Accepted Version
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