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Research is a systematic process that enables individuals, academicians, organizations and scientists to gain knowledge more about an issue, to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of a program or to test a hypothesis especially in the sciences. It is considered to be one of the most important tools that man has developed as a means of providing explanations of natural phenomenon, providing answers to questions, and exploring man's curiosity. There are many different ways to do execute research in each field and discipline. Each discipline has its own research orientation and methods of performing research. For example, pure sciences uses mostly mathematical experimentations, organizational psychology uses surveys while health sciences use case studies for analysis of problems. There are two major types of scientific research according to the data type; these are the Quantitative and Qualitative types of research. Quantitative research refers to the research that is concerned with numbers and data values that can be quantified (Quantitative Research, n.d.). On the other hand, Qualitative research is concerned with qualitative data such as values, opinions, behavior, and social contexts in different populations (Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector's Field Guide, n.d.). Qualitative research involves qualitative data analysis. Examples of qualitative data analysis are the interpretative phenomenological analysis, discourse analysis, and narrative analysis (Ratcliff, n.d.). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis is an analysis that emphasizes on the idiosyncratic meaning of the research experience to the individual researcher. It involves more of the effects of the research experience on the researcher-personal experiences of the research (Ratcliff, n.d.). A Discourse Analysis is a "linguistic analysis of the flow of communication" whether it is taped or written in paper (Gee, cited by Ratcliff, n.d.). The goal of a discourse analysis is to "find patterns of questions, who dominate time and how other patterns of interaction" (Ratcliff, n.d.). Lastly, a Narrative Analysis involves the "study of individual's speech" (Reisman, 1993). It is concerned with the study of autobiographies and comparisons of them. Narrative Analysis is more individual compared to the Discourse Analysis and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. However, Discourse Analysis is more effective in the data provided because it involves a personal account of communication and speech analysis of Zoe, who is an adopted person. Furthermore, a recent study about adoption of Chinese children in American families was performed using a discourse analysis (Li, 2008). It was argued that discourse is more than language itself. Close attention to particular instances of language-in-use, linked to other aspects of the social context, helps one discover the normal and often unwritten assumptions behind communication (Candlin, cited by Li, 2008). In this paper, a discourse analysis of Zoe's account of being adopted will be presented.
The materials that were used in the discourse analysis are provided in Appendix 1 of this report. The main transcript of the discourse analysis is a personal account of adoption experiences by Zoe. It is originally published in the Be My Parent newspaper in November 2005. It is being used with the permission of the British Association for Adoption & Fostering.
The main transcript of the discourse analysis was searched for important points that can be analyzed such as variation and ideological dilemmas, subject positions and other generalizations. The analysis was guided by a recent study by Baohuan Li, who presented a discourse analysis on the adoption of Chinese children into American families also known as transnational adoptions. The discourse aalysis guided the probable points for discourse in adoptions of children - transnational topic points were disregarded.
Discourse 1: social difficulties in Zoe's childhood life
Zoe's account of her childhood poses different societal difficulties that she experienced. She accounted in lines 17 - 30 in Appendix 1, how it was not difficult for her to express herself to other children. She was bombarded with questions regarding her feelings about being adopted. However, she just explains herself through films like Annie, Oliver or Curly Sue that childhood adversity is far more complicated as such (Appendix 1, 17-20). She accounts her fewer social difficulties due to "the nature of the security" in her family (Appendix 1, 25-26).
Discussion of Discourse 1
The social difficulties in Zoe's childhood life tend to be more of happiness for her as she has accounted: "The truth is that ... I was (and am) glad to be asked ..." about her feelings towards her adoption (Appendix 1, 23). Furthermore, she acknowledged the fact that if not for the security that she got from her family, she would have probably suffered more societal difficulties regarding her adoption. Thus, the nature of security provided by her family helped in the dissolution of difficulties that went her way.
Discourse 2: Zoe's open mind on her adoption
Zoe clearly stated that "Adoption ... had always been on the agenda throughout my latter placements and ... I was continually prepared for this." (Appendix 1, 39-42). It was clear that she understood what she will be going through even though she was only a minor. Also, she accounted that by her age of 7, she already accepted permanent parents who will be coming to get her. Accounts such as "By the time I´d turned seven, I was definitely ready for permanent parents." showed that Zoe had an open mind regarding her adoption (Appendix 1, 44-45).
Discussion of Discourse 2
Zoe's open mindedness towards her situation was a very important point. Spirito et al. (1988) recently undertook a study which divided children into age groups. The age groups were 0-4 years, 5-9 years and 10-14 years. Most appropriately, the last group should be used for adoption. It was found that these children have already opened their minds towards adoption. Same fact goes for Zoe's open mindedness.
Discourse 3: difficulties with Zoe's foster parent during initial stages of her life as an adopted child
Zoe accounted that during the initial stages of her life being an adopted child; it was the most challenging part of her relationship with her foster parent. She recalled that it was a continual "testing the limits of my mum´s tolerance and commitment" (Appendix 1, 56-57). Furthermore, feelings of uncertainty were frequent. She acknowledges that this is a normal feeling for any adoptee. She acknowledged also that these feelings faded and happiness filled her heart through her life with her new family. However, these feelings were blurred by the occasional questions on her mind that her foster parent cannot provide her - questions about her birth and her early years.
Discussion of Discourse 3
Truly, Zoe's account of her initial life as an adoptee consists of many difficulties that made it hard for her to move on. However, through the years, she accounted that these difficulties and feelings of sadness were replaced by happiness. She said: "This feeling only truly diminished after a few years in her care, by which time we were beginning to make our own history." (Appendix 1, 64-65). This is because through the years, she learned to appreciate her foster parent more and more. Their relationship grew stronger as time goes by.
Discourse 4: Zoe's yearning towards her birth information and origins
Zoe's yearnning can be pictured through her accounts which states that there were difficulties that arise regarding her wanting to know her birth information. She accounted that her early stages with her foster parent were sometimes difficult due to the fact that she wants to know more about her birth, or how she was in her early years. These questions cannot be answered by her foster parent. However, when her birth mother died, it proved to be an opportunity for her to inquire about her origins.
Discussion of Discourse 4
Zoe's yearning proved to be a hindrance for her growth, however, when her birth mother died, opportunity arose for her to probe into her origins. This was a big step for her moving on towards a better future. She recalled that it was "comforting to know that, should we have any questions about our birth mum, there were ten of her siblings to answer them!" (Appendix 1, 95-97). This instance proved to be a very helpful point in her growth as an individual. The questions about her origins were finally answered. She was extremely happy.
Discourse 5: Zoe's difficulties in dealing with other foster children
Zoe acknowledged that when her foster parent decided to adopt two more little girls, she felt a sense of taunt. She felt threatened by the beginning of her foster sister's belongingness in their home. She acknowledged that this was because of her strong relationship with her foster mother. However, as time went on, she became an elderly sister to them. The gaps were filled with love and sense of security. She said that "Time also allowed an understanding that in giving, there is so much to gain." (Appendix 1, 111-112).
Discussion of Discourse 5
The difficulties in the early stages of Zoe's relationship with her new siblings were normal. They started to feel each other's warmth and personalities and eventually, they learned more about each other; they understood more about each other. This resulted in Zoe's thinking that in giving; there is so much to gain. As time passed by, Zoe and her sisters learned to accept each other and learned to love each other; thus, promoting a loving relationship within the family.
Discourse 6: Zoe's acceptance of her life as an adopted child
In the end, Zoe accepted clearly that she have accepted her life as an adopted. She learned to appreciate and love her foster mother. She explicitly said that: "I can safely say that there is something irreplaceable about the notion that I am a part of this family not because of some biological mishap, but because I was striven for. The woman who raised me willingly travelled hundreds of miles to sit through countless meetings, completed document after document, and faced a torrent of intimate questions - just to make me her daughter and replace what was taken." (Appendix 1, 133-140). This shows that she understood well what her circumstances are, and that she loves those circumstances.
Discussion of Discourse 6
Zoe accepted her faith as an adopted. She loved her circumstances and she learned to appreciate her foster mother deeply and lovingly. This created a beautiful image in Zoe that learned to accept her circumstances and learned to love the fact that she is an adopted.
In this discourse analysis, the following discourses were found and analyzed:
In conclusion, Zoe's circumstances as an adopted was analyzed and it was found that Zoe accepted her circumstances and loved it. The discourse analysis was successful in determination of problems, difficulties and views of the person being studied - Zoe. In this study, the researcher believes that a discourse analysis is the best method to use in analyzing data transcripts that are personally accounted. Discourse analysis gives a wider range and more appropriate research study methods that are beneficial to the data analysis.