All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Jerry Aldridge

Advisory Committee Members

Kay Emfinger

Grace Jepkemboi

Deborah Strevy

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


The purpose of this qualitative investigation was to examine the experiences of birthmothers who relinquished a child for adoption and determine if this affected their subsequent parenting. The questions that guided the study were: (1.) How do birthmothers describe their experience of relinquishing a child for adoption?; (2.) How do birthmothers describe their experience of parenting subsequent children?; (3.) How do mothers who have relinquished a child for adoption perceive their parenting skills?; and (4.) What do mothers who have relinquished a child for adoption want early childhood professionals to know about their subsequent parenting experience? Three birthmothers who put a child up for adoption and were parenting at least one child within the early childhood age range volunteered to participate in the study. The researcher collected data through semi-structured interviews, observations, artifacts and follow-up interviews to determine how relinquishment of a child affects the ability to parent subsequent children. Results of this study indicated that relinquishing a child for adoption is a life-altering exp-erience that has an impact on parenting of subsequent children. Participants in the study lacked confidence in their parenting and believed they overcompensated with subsequent children due to the loss they experienced. Although the birthmothers did not want to be treated differently from other families, specific themes were identified which reflected their experiences. Understanding the experience of relinquishing a child for adoption and its impact on subsequent parenting is critical in the field of early childhood education for several reasons. First, teachers must recognize that the contemporary family extends far beyond consisting of two parents, two children, and a dog living in a house with a white picket fence. Next, when creating classroom assignments that explore family histories, specific details that have not been shared with young children may arise when researching these types of projects. To eliminate the possibility of causing angst and turmoil for the family, these projects should be modified. Being sensitive to the many types of families, including those where a mother has relinquished a child for adoption, is essential to successful partnerships with families in the field of early childhood education.

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