Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Subhash Sonnad

Second Advisor

Dr. Douglas Davidson

Third Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Donald Cooney


The purpose of the study was to examine special needs adoption from the perspective of the adoptive parents. Using the general guidelines of grounded theory, the study analyzed secondary data from a post-adoption program providing services to families who adopted special needs children. The data revealed that adoptive parents function under a cultural script of special needs adoption. The cultural script influences how families view themselves, the environment around them and how they decide to function as adoptive families. The study explains the cultural script, ways that professionals working in adoption can use that cultural script to support adoptive families and assist them in maintaining their adoptive placements. The understanding of the cultural script could play a role in reducing the number of adoption disruptions and dissolutions.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access