Exploring Transracial and Transethnic International Adoption

Rachel McKail

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis explores ‘transracial’ and ‘transethnic’ international adoption from the perspectives of adoptees. It includes a systematic literature review of transracial adoptees’ experience of racial/ethnic identity; a research paper of international Romanian adoptees’ life stories; a critical appraisal of the research process and an ethics section.

Section one synthesises qualitative research which has explored international
transracial adoptees’ experiences of ‘racial/ethnic’ identity development. The review synthesised findings from 12 studies and proposes a conceptual model for understanding racial/ethnic identity development. Three themes are included in the model: Becoming aware of difference: Identity as ‘other’; Exploring identity: Identity as ‘in-between’; and Negotiating identity: Identity as meaningful’. Implications for working with transracial
adoptees, particularly focusing on their experiences of discrimination are discussed in addition to study limitations and suggestions for future research.

Section two explores the life stories told by international Romanian adoptees. Due to the historical socio-political context and evident public narratives of Romanian adoptees, a narrative analysis was conducted. Four life chapters are presented to illustrate a shared story of identity construction told across the stories of ten Romanian adoptees: Chapter 1: Setting the scene – The adoption story; Chapter 2: Constructing the self; Chapter 3: Who am I? Quest
for self-discovery; and Chapter 4: Negotiating the selves. The findings are discussed with relation to existing theory and research and implications for clinical practice are provided.

Section three presents an account of my own research story by offering an extended discussion of findings from section one and two; reflections on the research process; and the relevance of the findings to clinical psychology and my professional identity. This account is presented across four chapters: 1. Motivation for the study: Reservation and reconnection; 2. Disentangling ‘race/ethnicity’, ‘racism’ and ‘racialisation’; 3. Challenges of the narrative
approach; 4. Using a reflective journal; and 5. My ongoing identity as a clinical psychologist.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Lancaster
  • Hodge, Suzanne, Supervisor, External person
  • Daiches, Anna, Supervisor, External person
  • Misca, Gabriela , Advisor, External person
Award date31 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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