These informal notes that Hutchinson
used for teaching and consulting suggest the centrality of infertility
to adoption home studies
1. The quality of the marital relationship.
2. The quality of relationships with family and
3. Functioning of husband and wife in all areas.
4. Reason for childlessness.
5. Degree to which couple have worked out trauma
6. Effect of infertility on the marriage—emotionally
7. Way couple have handled their frustration &
disappointment—mutual supportiveness or destructiveness)
8. The emotional climate the child must grow in.
9. Reasons for wish to adopt...conscious—unconscious—feelings—fantasies—
10. How much discussion bet. Parents prior to
adoption—how much thought given to parenthood as well as adoptive
11. How much medical exploration has been done.
12. How were plans to adopt shared or not shared
with family & friends. (inability to do so often reflects inability
to accept infertility.)
13. Feelings of couple re: discussing adoption
with the child.
14. Adjustment to sterility
15. Need to consider that often defenses are built
to handle feelings about sterility. The reality of the adopted child
can serve to break down the defenses. This can be destructive to
the individual and/or the relationship.
16. Can the couple, as parents, identify with
an adopted child. This is present with a biolog. child—but
can it be with one born of another. Can they really consider the
17. Can they relate to a child according to the
child's needs rather than out of their own conflicts.
18.An unrealistic concern over heredity can reflect
basic question as to whether the child can ever really be theirs.
19. Are they threatened by an O.W. child. What
are attitudes in this area. Can reflect their own unresolved fears
and conflicts about sexuality. The adopted child reactivates and
intensifies this. They worry about the child as a potential delinquent—a
source of trouble—shame—. This relates also to acceptance
of a child not born of them. Places blame for potential failure
outside of themselves.
Conflicts involved in Adoptive Parenthood
1. Inability to have a biological child—a
narcissistic blow. Infertility of wife threatens adequacy as a woman.
Infertility of husband threatens maleness—Stillbirths & miscarriages
threatens mothers potential as a parent—it is as tho she kills
the child. When bearing physical or mental defectives—threatens
also. As tho mother injures the child—cannot produce a normal
child. Will she be able to help child grow normally.
2. Accepting a child as one's own who is conceived,
born & surrendered by others, usually strangers. These problems
can threaten not only the individual but also the marital relationship.
Can precipitate resentment & antagonism of the partner deprived
of child. Emotionally mature people work thru the impact of the
infertility. Emotionally mature people can bring capacities for
parenthood to Adoptive parenthood. If no adjustment to sterility,
adopt. child will only be symbol of the parents frustrations—their
feelings of inadequacy—of their failure.