Good Parents – Adoption Services in Germany from the Perspective of Applicants and Mediators

Participating Researchers:
Prof. Dr. Alexandra König and Dr. Arne Niederbacher (TU Dortmund)

Duration: 2024-2027

Third-party donor: DFG

GEPRIS: 524945366

Project Description

The adoption of unrelated children is seldom researched from a sociological perspective. While there are a few studies on the period after matching, we know next to nothing about the preceding process of adopting a child: How are adoption applicants – mostly childless – evaluated for their ‚suitability’ as parents and classified as (un)suitable? Among the many ‚suitable’ applicants, how is one couple then identified as the best fit to adopt a specific child? The process of adopting a child will be investigated
from an interactionist perspective as a co-construction of good parents and parenthood by adoption applicants and adoption mediators. With our project proposal, we want to a) understand adoption in Germany from the perspective of both adoption applicants and adoption mediators. Furthermore, the special case of adoption offers b) a good opportunity to grasp the normative pattern of good childhood/parenthood and reveals c) the power this normative pattern has to (re)produce inequalities. On the basis of this ‚small’ subject, the project will allow us to study fundamental sociological questions
about childhood/family and social inequalities. The research project is of particular importance against the backdrop of changing forms of family, which are already evident in the guidelines for adopting a child (especially regarding same sex and elderly adoption applicants).
The data basis consists of a) longitudinal, process-accompanying interviews with adoption mediators and applicants, b) participatory observation of team meetings in the youth welfare office and of informational events for applicants, as well as c) documents such as case files from the youth welfare office and self- reports made by the applicants.