Different constellation and shining stars: lesbian parents’ experiences of accessing healthcare for their adopted children in England
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AbstractIntroduction: The past few decades have seen significant changes in family demographics. It is now more common for parents to be lesbians, which is due to increased social acceptance and the dissolution of legal barriers to parental responsibility. Adoption transforms the lives of some of the most vulnerable children. In 2019, 1 in 7 children in England were adopted by same-sex parents. Adopted children have an increased incidence of additional health care needs and therefore dental and medical appointments in comparison to children who remain with their biological parents. Aim: This study sought to explore the experiences of lesbian mothers accessing healthcare for their adopted children in England and the rhetoric, language and treatment they encountered. Method: A small scale qualitative study, utilising a Narrative Inquiry approach was the chosen method. The study population gained by purposive sampling was of six lesbian adoptive parents. A combined data analysis tool was utilised which used critical incident recall (Webster and Mertova, 2007) and broadening, burrowing, storying and re-storying (Clandinin and Connelly, 1990). A composite character couple was created to ‘re-story’ the participants’ experiences in healthcare and to maintain anonymity. Results and discussion: The needs and challenges of lesbian adoptive families may be different to those of heterosexual and biological families when accessing healthcare. There was an undercurrent of discriminatory practice, shown by various healthcare professionals, and a lack of understanding of the adoption process, knowledge surrounding the child’s history and legal stance with regards to parental responsibility. Emergent themes were: navigating heteronormativity, navigating healthcare settings and professionals and having an ‘adopted’ status, intersectional identity of lesbian parented adoptive families accessing healthcare, reflective imagery of lesbian parents and adoptive families and professional expectations. Self-imposed strategies instigated by the parents to strengthen and protect their familial identities were also discovered. Implications and recommendations for practice: The findings demonstrated that the healthcare provider must take more proactive steps to ensure that practitioners are adhering to Equality legislation and professional standards and are not discriminating against same-sex parents and adopted children who utilise healthcare services. Practitioners should also receive training to ensure they are aware of the adoption process in England; diversity of the population in which they practice; the importance of appropriate terminology and families seeing positive representation of adoption and same-sex parenting in healthcare settings.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the Professional Doctorate in Health & Wellbeing.
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