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Decision-making in a family configuration through adoption: experiences and situations arising from the socio-demographic profiles and family structures of Spanish adopters in China
María Isabel Fernández Cáceres

##manager.scheduler.building##: Edificio 19 foyer
Date: 2015-02-05 03:30 PM – 04:30 PM
Last modified: 2015-01-15


Theoretical underpinnings

Spain constitutes a special case in adoption processes worldwide, for in recent decades not only has it rapidly become one of the largest recipients compared to other countries, but also, and along with Italy, one of the lowest-low-fertility countries[1] (Kohler et al., 2002; Baizán et al., 2003; Delgado et al., 2006 ). Adoptions are presented as the answer to low fertility in the process of family formation.

Although infertility (whether voluntary or not) is a common denominator among the motivations outlined in adoption studies, albeit not the only reason, it coexists with many others that may even be combined (Van Den Akker, 2001; Hoksbergen and Laak, 2005; Ocón, 2008; Marre, 2009;  Berástegui, 2010;  Jareño and Rodriguez, 2010; Jociles et al., 2010; Vich, 2012). Accordingly, other motivations are as follows: solidarity with children; the desire to exercise motherhood alone, and conform to social conventions on the use of assisted reproductive technology; considering adoption as an option; the need to boost the couple; the desire to have a bigger family/return to parenting, or form an intercultural family, among others.

Nevertheless, few studies have considered the decision-making process itself (Ocón, 2008; Jareño and Rodríguez, 2010), or the significance of the disparity and heterogeneity of family profiles in the nature of the family configuration.

The aim of this paper is to analyze the decision-making process in Spanish adoptive families. This study uses the information provided by 15 interviews with families adopting children in China, considering socio-demographic characteristics and family structure as its determinants. Therefore, the main hypothesis is that to the extent that both aspects are different, making the adoption decision will be too. This study seeks to answer the following questions: Is it a consensus decision from the start, or does someone take the initiative? What traits of family members are involved in the decision to adopt? To what extent do different features have varying implications for decision-making? Do different family structures respond to different strategies in decision-making? What is the correspondence between different family profiles and different motivations for adoption?


Methodology and sources

The methodology used in this research is qualitative, with a semi-structured interview being the main instrument of inquiry. The use of this tool allows developing a particularist approach, focusing on the heterogeneity of the profiles and their relation to different strategies and dynamics of family behavior. Through the development of a non-probability sampling "snowball", a sample is used of fifteen families adopting in China. The analytical strategy used consists of a discourse analysis of respondents based on successive readings of in-depth interviews.


Findings and conclusions

This study’s findings confirm the complexity of the initial decision-making in the adoption process. Overall, it is a consensual decision, but women often take the initiative and, in some cases, disassociate from altruistic considerations. However, we find cases in which the man or both partners are the proponents of adoption, coinciding with problems or risks related to biological parenthood.

The paper highlights the limited influence of the “ticking of the biological clock”, as a result of delayed childbearing among women in our sample. We tellingly find women with higher education, embodied in jobs with high income and status, opting for adoption at an early stage; that it to say, it is a decision that is not linked to reproductive health.

Likewise, we find a positive relationship between financial and job stability and the decision to adopt, thereby favoring it especially among women.

On the other hand, the existence of a couple at the time of the decision only becomes complicated in a case of two-parent families in our sample but, by contrast, its absence in cases of Single Mother by Choice puts a brake on overall maternity, and adoptive motherhood particularly, by delaying them.

In terms of family structure, although the sample included few cases of families with pre-adoption biological children, there is a desire for a mixed type of family configuration that links certain integral component preferences for biological paternity, circumstances that, by becoming effective, favor expanding the family through adoption. A highlight is the disparity of results regarding the correlation between family structure and the origin of the broad decision to set up or enlarge the family through adoption.

[1]These are countries with a fertility rate of or below 1.3 children per woman, and therefore ones that generate the greatest interest in the academic world.