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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Torey Browne

First Committee Member

Kent Warren

Second Committee Member

Stephanie Pollack


In the United States the debate concerning transracial adoption and gay and/ or lesbian adoption has been going on since the 1970s. This research used the co-cultural theory of communication to explore how the marginalized population of gay and lesbian transracial adoptive (TRA) parents communicated with the other culturally dominant members of their society. It then analyzed the communication behaviors found to see if any differences existed in their interactions. Finally, the communication behaviors were examined to see what impact they might have on the ability of parents to be effective TRA parents.

This research included eight in-depth interviews with gay and lesbian TRA parents. In these interviews, these parents were asked to explain, through their own 7 personal experiences, what it was like to be part of this cultural group. Their experiences were then analyzed using the methods described in the co-cultural communication theory.

Results showed that gay and lesbian TRA parents predominantly employed the assertive accommodation and the nonassertive assimilation communication orientations in their interactions with others. Of the two, the parents overwhelmingly employed assertive accommodation.

Results showed three important differences regarding how the parents employed communication orientations or enacted co-cultural practices in their interactions. Results also showed that the employment of the assertive accommodation orientation was likely to have a positive effect on the parents' ability to be effective TRA parents. The employment of the nonassertive assimilation orientation was found generally to have t mixed results.

I hope that insight into the communication behaviors of this population found through this study will help clarify the most effective communication methods for these parents to learn in order to raise healthy and happy children of color.



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