Exploring the psychological and relational challenges experienced by lesbian couples during the adoption process in South Africa: an interpretative phenomenological analysis
Most of the existing literature on lesbian couples’ experiences of the adoption process either elucidate an investigation into cognitive, psychological and sexual development of children who were adopted by same-sex individuals or examine the stability of these individuals with limited attention being paid to the experience of the lesbian couples who partake in the adoption process itself. In this study, the researcher adopts an Interpretative Phenomenological approach to investigate how lesbian couples experience the phenomenon of adopting in South Africa by exploring the psychological and relational challenges that these couples might have experienced. Eight female participants (4 couples) were interviewed through semi-structured interviews by utilising the video conferencing software Zoom, and by focusing on investigating their experiences of the adoption process. Two major themes emerged from the data, namely: Psychological introspection, which investigates the psychological challenges that the adoption process has on the individual and couple, and secondly; In Love and War, which evaluates social support, family and friend’s opinions of the adoption process as well as institutional attitudes, like the assumptions and beliefs of social workers and adoption agencies. The findings suggest that most participants found the adoption process taxing on their individual psychological well-being and their relationship. The analyses suggest that all participants experienced some form of homophobia whilst in the process. Therefore, findings of this study are specific to these research participants and their unique experiences of the adoption process. In this regard, findings cannot be generalised to a broader population.