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Redefining parenting : the process of raising adopted children with fetal alcohol effects (FAE)



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This thesis examines the experiences of parents who are raising their adopted children who have Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). Four married couples, and one single mother, who married after she had raised her sons participated in this study. All are white and middle or upper-middle class. Five adoptive mothers and one adoptive father were interviewed, while their spouses contributed to the study by reviewing the interview transcripts, and discussing issues raised within them. Eight children with diagnosed or suspected FAE are discussed. They are Cree or Saulteaux, and are between the ages of nine and 23 . Through multiple in-depth interviews, and the demographic profile form, richly detailed information was recorded on these families' day-to-day lives: the children's school experiences, learning disabilities and behaviour problems, their strengths, their health and interactions with peers; parents' interactions with professionals, treatments and behaviour management strategies they sought or devised, their use of support groups and other forms of social support and encounters with the criminal justice and mental health systems. Grounded theory methodology was used to analyse the data and a conceptual model was constructed to outline the process of redefining parenting which describes the practical and psychological tasks parents perform as the family evolves over time. A central role is taken by the mothers who become advocates for their children as they undertake a quest for the meaning of their children's behaviour, seek a diagnosis, and try to secure services for them. It was found that people with FAE are misunderstood and misdiagnosed because of their anomalous nature, which often leads to stigmatisation. This thesis attempts to dispel these misconceptions, document the parents' and children's struggles, and identify the types of services these families desperately need.



fetal alcohol effects, developmental disabilities -- Aboriginal children, adoption



Master of Arts (M.A.)


Anthropology and Archaeology


Anthropology and Archaeology



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