Date of Graduation

Fall 2021


Master of Science in Child Life Studies


Childhood Education and Family Studies

Committee Chair

Lindsey Murphy


Parents who have newborns admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) have multiple experiences and emotions. Additional social and emotional layers are experienced by adoptive couples when the infant they wish to adopt needs specialized care. This research study was completed to find out what adoptive parents experience in the NICU and what preparation would have been helpful. The method included semi-structured, open-ended interviews with seven couples who adopted a newborn at a Midwestern adoption agency within the past three years and had a NICU experience. The results described adoptive couples’ experiences on the unit, bonding and attachment, fears and stressors experienced, coping, experiences with the birth family, preparation desired, and unexpected findings. Education of hospital staff regarding the impact of the NICU experience on adoptive parents could assist these professionals in providing psychosocial care to the adoption triad. In addition, policies should be created to clearly define what medical information can be given to adoptive parents so they can feel informed and valued.


neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), adoption, infant, attachment, birth parent, fears, coping, preparation, adoptive parent, drop-in delivery

Subject Categories

Counseling | Developmental Psychology | Maternal, Child Health and Neonatal Nursing | Pediatric Nursing | Social Work


© Catherine J. Howe

Open Access