This paper was written to describe the experiences of the researchers in designing cross-cultural research on the culturally sensitive topic of adoptive parenthood, a field in which there is a dearth of literature. Taking the experience and examples from an Indian-Irish study on domestic adoptive parenthood, the paper details the steps as to how the researchers used their own relationship with adoption, and the different cultural contexts to which they belonged, as a starting point in designing and implementing this research. The discussion utilizes a conceptual framework involving insider-outsider positioning, reflexivity and five philosophical assumptions (ontology, epistemology, methodology, axiology, and rhetoric) to show how cross-cultural research can be negotiated. Through the research design and data collection stage, researchers' understanding about themselves and about the adoption process in the two countries, is used as a backdrop for the exploration. While various deliberations and negotiations between the researchers are described, the paper also shows the differences and methodological concerns that can be steered through inter-cultural territory, where reflexivity is central to all stages of the endeavor. These processes and reflections are summarized in this paper, with recommendations for students and academics to promote the discussions around the design of qualitative cross-cultural work.


qualitative, reflexivity, cross-culture, domestic adoption, adoptive parents

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Sahana Mitra is a developmental psychologist with the research and training in the area of child psychology. She completed her PhD thesis, “Parenthood through Adoption: An Indian experience,” at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India, where she was also awarded the Erasmus Mundus fellowship to conduct a cross-cultural study with adoptive parents in Ireland. In 2018, she completed her post-doctorate dissertation titled, “Child Adoption in Ireland,” under the mentorship of Dr. Valerie O’Brien. Currently, she is an independent researcher and visiting lecturer based in Bahrain and is actively engaged in several research projects in Bahrain, India and Ireland around adoptive families, children with intellectual disability, domestic violence, and digital adoption. Please direct correspondence to sahanamtr@gmail.com.

Dr. Valerie O’Brien is an associate professor in School of Medicine and Medical Science, Health Science Centre, University College Dublin. She is also the Programme Director of M.Sc. Systemic Psychotherapy and Chair of the social workers in foster care group as part of IASW (Irish Association of Social Workers). She is also the registered member of European Association Psychotherapy (EAP). She was also a member of Irish Adoption Board from 1998 to 2010 and board member of IFCA from 2010 to 2014. She is currently researching adoption of children from the Irish care system, comparative Indian/Ireland adoption practices, and the adoption of children to and from USA. Please direct correspondence to valerie.obrien@ucd.ie.

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