Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Sedahlia Jasper Crase

Second Advisor

Ronald Werner-Wilson


Ten dual-earner adoptive couples within the initial 18 months of their special-needs adoptive placement were interviewed regarding how they organize their family and work lives to provide consistent care for their adoptive child. The analysis identified six major content domains: (a) non-adoption-specific family challenges; (b) adoption-specific family challenges; (c) extent of social support for adoptive couples; (d) experiences that helped in the adoption adjustment; (e) sharing family responsibilities; (f) adoptive parents' management of their work contexts. The latter two domains are most closely related to the primary research question. In terms of sharing family responsibilities, several themes were identified: (a) slight majority of adoptive couples (6 of 10) reported sharing parenting responsibilities; (b) in majority of adoptive couples (9 of 10) it is the adoptive mother that is primarily responsible for household labor; (c) no couples indicated that they had preplanned who would be responsible for what household or parenting tasks; (d) mothers were primarily responsible for family organizational planning in the large majority of adoptive couples (9 of 10); (e) in majority of adoptive father involvement descriptions (6 of 7) only one father's involvement was concentrated in the "fun" aspects of parenthood. Additionally, several bases for family distribution were identified: (a) parent availability; (b) parent stress-level handoff; (c) parent task competency; (d) parent task preference; (e) parental guilt. In terms of parents' management of their work contexts, several themes were identified: (a) all of the adoptive mothers (10 of 10) made significant efforts to manage work interference in family life though only a minority of the adoptive fathers (3 of 10) also placed boundaries on their work; (b) most mothers (8 of 10) were primarily responsible for responding to family needs during work hours because their work was more flexible than fathers' work; (c) the majority of adoptive mothers (7 of 10) utilized their maternity leave for the adoption, though only one father used his paternity leave for the adoption. The results suggest that dual-earner adoptive couples need to renegotiate the distribution of family labor responsibilities within their relationships that has significant implications for how they organize their work contexts.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Darren Anthony Wozny



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

220 pages