Adoptive mothers: Identity agents on the pathway to adoptive identity formation

Lynn von Korff, Harold D. Grotevant, Bibiana D. Koh, Diana R. Samek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The concept of identity agents provides a framework to examine adoptive mothers' responsibility to address children's dual connection to their birth and adoptive families. Adoptive mothers' identity agency was assessed using case analysis. Eight extensive interviews with four adoptive mothers were collected at Waves 1 and 2 of a longitudinal study. Adoptees' identity formation was measured at Waves 2 and 3. Adoptees were M = 6, 13, and 23 years of age at Waves 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Analysis revealed strategies that adoptive mothers purposefully employ during their children's childhood and adolescence to influence subsequent adoptive identity. Adoptive mothers who act as identity agents draw on their respective theories of identity formation to create opportunities to talk with their children about adoption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-137
Number of pages16
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the adoptive family members who generously shared their experiences with them as part of the Minnesota-Texas Adoption Research Project. Funding was provided by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant R01-HD-049859, National Science Foundation grant BCS-0443590, and William T. Grant Foundation grant 7146. Lynn Von Korff received a Mary Ellen McFarland Fellowship from the Department of Family Social Science for her doctoral dissertation, part of which constitutes the basis of this article. During the preparation of this article, Lynn Von Korff and Harold D. Grotevant were supported by funds from the Rudd Family Foundation Chair in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


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