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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Genevieve Arnaut, PhD, PsyD

Second Advisor

Maryka Biaggio, PhD


An increasing number of families are adopting special needs children. Research has shown that these families need many different types of services in order to decrease the likelihood of an adoption disruption, although research determining which specific services are needed is sparse. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of adoptive parents' experiences of a intervention based on a diathesis-stress model developed for families with adopted children who had prenatal exposure to alcohol. Findings from interviews with 18 parents were structured and categorized into three levels of themes. Analysis of the qualitative interview data revealed 6 overarching themes, with 19 sub-themes. Overarching themes included (a) prior difficulties, (b) increased support for parents, (c) increased knowledge base, (d) increased skill base, (e) therapeutic changes in parent and child, and (f) strengthened interpersonal relationships. Overall, all 18 families found the intervention to be a positive, supportive, and helpful intervention. The parents reported that having a name for what was wrong with their child and being educated about the disability was extremely important. In addition, they reported that having this knowledge and education led to empathic understanding of their child, closer relationships with family members and those outside the family, and decreased explosive behavior in their children