Grandparents of adopted grandchildren relate to them as an integral part of the family -- just as they relate to their biological grandchildren. This was revealed in research conducted at the University of Haifa School of Social Work. This research is unique in the field in that it evaluated adoptive relationships from the viewpoint of grandparents; previous research examined relationships from the viewpoint of parents and children.
Fifteen grandparents between the ages of 59 and 90 participated in the research which was conducted by Ms. Nira Degani under the supervision of Prof. Ariela Lowenstein and Dr. Eli Buchbinder of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Studies at the University of Haifa. The research identified five stages in the development of emotional relationships between grandparents and their adopted grandchildren.
In the first stage, a grandparent views his adopted grandchild as a solution to the anguish caused by his son's or daughter's inability to bring a child into a world. In the second stage, while a strong emotional connection is still absent, the grandparent looks to rationalize the adoption and convinces himself that his children have saved a child that may otherwise have been left uncared for. The third stage of emotional development is marked by a superficial emotional connection and in the fourth stage, the grandparent accepts the child as in integral part of the multi-generational family.
In the final stage, grandparents begin to express concern that when their adopted grandchild turns 18, he will begin to search for details about his biological family and may chose to establish a relationship with them and abandon his adoptive family. According to Ms. Degani, this stage demonstrates that the grandparents see their adopted grandchild as an inseparable member of the family.
Ms. Degani explains that the results of this research can benefit many couples who cannot bring children into the world and continue to undergo difficult fertility treatments. "Today, in many cases, couples can undergo unlimited fertility treatments and they continue the physically and emotionally straining treatments, often out of concern for their parents' reaction to the idea of adoption. Continuing treatment often harms both the physical and emotional health of couples and may even lead to break-up of a relationship. I believe that if couples know they will have the support of their families and complete acceptance of an adopted child, many will prefer to end the difficult course of fertility treatments and opt for adoption," she summarized.
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