Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Counselor Education and Supervision

Department or School/College

School of Education

Committee Co-chair

Lynne Sanford Koester, Cathy Jenni

Commitee Members

Katherine Weist, Kirsten Murray, Lindsey Nichols


University of Montana


The number of American families choosing to adopt a child from Ethiopia has increased exponentially since 2004. Over the past five years alone, between 2006 and 2011, 13.5% of internationally adopted children in the U.S. came from Ethiopia. The purpose of this study was to examine psychological adjustment and relational development of Ethiopian adoptees who have been adopted during 2007 -2010 and their families who reside in Montana.

Using a convenience-sampling method, data were collected from 25 adoptive parents who adopted a total of 35 children from Ethiopia. All families live in Montana and responded to questions through an online survey. In addition, four families participated in a semi-structured in-depth interview.

Descriptive statistics were used to examine the parents’ scores on parental adjustment, cultural competency, parenting intervention skills and their perceptions about their child’s adjustment. To compare the relationships between different variables, one-tailed Spearman’s non-parametric correlations and Mann-Whitney U test were used.

The study’s findings suggest that: 1) Parents report a variety of environmental characteristics as risk factors that challenge the relationship development with their adopted child. 2) Ethiopian adopted children are described by their adoptive parents as being generally well adjusted. 3) Adoptive parents also appear to: be well adjusted to the adoption process; have good awareness about their own and their adopted child’s culture; and report good parenting intervention skills. 4) Parents who live in the more urban, populated areas of Montana seem to be better adjusted to adoption compared to parents who live in the rural areas of the state. 5) Parents with biological children seem to have better intervention skills in comparison to parents without any biological children.

The correlational analyses of the study also show that perception of lower level of adoptee’s adjustment problems was found to be related to higher levels of parental cultural competency; and, parental adjustment was positively correlated with their cultural competency and to their parenting intervention skills.

This study replicates findings of previous studies regarding the relationship between adoptees’ adjustment and parents’ cultural competence. Implications of these findings are discussed.



© Copyright 2013 Waganesh Zeleke