Molly Conley, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Martha Straus, PhD, Committee Chair
  • William Slammon, PhD, Committee Member
  • Cynthia Whitaker, PsyD, Committee Member


adoption, transracial adoption, parenting, cultural competence

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Transracial adoption, the adoption of a child of a different race than those of the adoptive parents, occurs in approximately 40% of all adoptions. While transracial adoption alone is not sufficient to cause mental health concerns, it does pose a series of unique challenges that can impact self-esteem, racial identity, and sense of belonging in adoptees. Much of the research on adoption focuses on adoptive parents, collecting quantitative data from adoptees, and mental health professionals’ views of adoptees’ experiences. This study elicited feedback from adult transracial adoptees on Vonk’s 2001 model of culturally competent parenting. Data were interpreted using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to analyze semi-structured interviews of adult adoptees who identify as Black, Biracial, or African-American and had been adopted by White parents. This dissertation contains a problem statement, conceptual framework describing Vonk’s three-part model, methodology, methods, and a description of the analysis conducted using IPA. The study found that while Vonk’s model is a good starting point, there are other aspects to the complex experience of being a transracial adoptee that must also be addressed.


Molly Conley

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0003-3832-6287