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This study examined the relationship between locus of control, self-esteem, gender
and attitude towards child adoption in Nsukka, Enugu State. Three hundred and three
(303 people) of Nsukka local Government workers participated in the study (150
males and 153 females). Their ages range between 21years and 55 years with a mean
age of (38.90) years. Three instruments were used for data collection namely: selfesteem
scale developed by Rosenberg (1965), locus of control scale developed by
Terry (2003) and Attitude to child adoption questionnaire. All scales used were
psychometrically sound. Result of the Pearson’s product correlational analysis
indicated that individuals with high self-esteem expressed more positive attitude
towards child adoption than those with low self-esteem (r = 35.7; P<.005) for high
self-esteem while calculated correlation coefficient for low self-esteem is (r – 0.35;
P<.005). Results also showed that locus of control and gender had no or little
correlation coefficient towards child adoption as calculated r is (– 1.1; P< .005) for
locus of control while calculated coefficient for males and females gender is (r –
100.8) and (r – 98.3) respectively. The findings of the study suggested that
personalities are important factor in people’s attitudes towards child adoption. It is
suggested in the study that researchers who are interested in changing people’s
attitude towards child adoption policy need to consider personality factors first and
foremost. Finally, the above results have implication for social policy and social work
practice in Nsukka community, in Enugu State.




Title page i
Certification ii
Dedication iii
Acknowledgement iv
Table of contents v
List of tables vii
List of appendices viii
Abstract ix
Statement of the problem 9
Purpose of the study 10
Operational definition of terms 10
Theoretical review 12
Empirical review 18
Summary of literature reviewed 29
Hypothesis 32
Participants 33
Instrument 33
Procedure 37
Design/statistics 38
Implications of the study 47
Limitations of the study, and suggestion for further studies 47
Summary and conclusion 48



The importance attached to children in most societies has made imperative
that every home/family desire to have children. Besides, companionship derived
from marriage, children foster love and happiness among married couples. Thus,
the joy and stability that children bring to families cannot be over emphasized.
This may be why couples who are unable, because of one reason or the other to
bear children go for adoption.
However, adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the role of
parenting for another child and in so doing permanently transfers all rights and
responsibilities, along with filiations, from the biological parents or parent
(Pertman, 2000). According to Logan (1996) adoption is defined as act of
transferring parental rights and duties to someone other than the adopted person’s
biological parents. Adoption, according to Wikipedia (2013) is a process whereby
a person assumes the parenting for another and, in so doing, permanently transfers
all rights and responsibilities, along with filiations, from the biological parent or
parents. Unlike, guardianship or other systems design for the care of the young,
adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status of the child and as such
requires societal recognition, either through legal or religious sanction.
Nevertheless, adoption practice has been in existence in an informal form
prior to colonial era. The system then could be contemporarily described as
fosterage. This is a situation where children could be fostered out to kin members
for variety of reasons. Such reasons could be because of infertility of the fostered
parent(s). Meanwhile, contemporary adoption practices can be open or closed
(Logan, 1996). Open adoption, allows identifying information to be communicated
between adoptive and biological parents and, perhaps interaction between kin and
the adopted child. While close adoption (i.e. confidential or secret adoption) seal
all identifying information, maintaining it as secret and preventing disclosure of
the adoptive parents, biological kins and adoptees (Logan, 1996).
Bloodhound Team (2004) defined adoption as the legal and emotional
acceptance into a parent family of a child not born to the parents but have the
parents name and the same legal rights as a child by birth. By this definition
adopted child assumes the identity of the adoptive parents as prescribe by the law
which permit inheritance right to be transferred to the adopted child. Adopted
children contemporary are being seen as orphans who have no birth rights,
homeless and hopeless or any representation of such in the society. Nydam (1992)
corroborates the abandoned posture of adopted child by asserting that adoption is
the first of all an experience of rejection of not fitting into this world, where a child
is being dismissed, separated from origins and denied the basic rights of birth, and
offered up to unasked adoptive parents. He asserted that adoption should be given
a new status and a new place in the world of rejection.
However, in African culture a child is being considered as central to the
sustenance and continual existence of happy home. In African continent adoption
is seen as an arrangement by which a child whose biological parents are unable to
care for is being adopted and given the same legal and social status as though
he/she were the biological child of the adoptive families. For instance in some part
of South Africa, the exchange of female relatives from one family to another, for
marriage is meant to create enduring connections and social solidarity among
families and lineages, e.g. among the Mbuti people in South Africa, sisters are
being exchange for marriage. In that part of African, adoption is not seen as a
means of filling the gap created in the home as a result of childlessness, but a
process to solidified a close family relationship between two families (Anderson,
In Nigerian culture today, much is talked about adoption and adopted child
and yet many are adopting and owing children because of health and social
problems of infertility. Couples who are unable to bear children may experience a
wide spectrum of some psychological feeling such as jealousness, despair, envy,
isolation and bitterness (Schalesky, 2001). Others may feel singled out for Ordeal,
few others seem to experience difficulties to fit into the social circles, where the
society lay much emphasizes on having children (Daniluk, 1996). In Nigeria,
socio-cultural and environmental factors do tremendously affect the process of
adoption. Each ethnic group in Nigeria has a set of critical social orders of carrying
out everyday activities and mode of living, which give rise to local attitude and
practice in terms of child adoption. In Nigeria perspective, adoption simply means
getting a child who is not your biological child and giving him/her all the right
supposed for a biological child. Indeed, to adopt a child in Nigeria is not an easy
task. A lot of protocols are involved before a child can be adopted. The adoptive
parents will answer a lot of paper questions which include their financial status,
religious status, their social life, and environment where they reside (Joyce 2013).
The attitude and behaviour in Nigeria towards adoption stems from most of
the problems of life that are associated with most of the adopted children such like
depression, delinquent behaviour, stealing from the adoptive parents, identity
problem and difficulties with relationships. In 1965 the government of the then
Eastern region legislated for adoption, to cushion the adverse effect of adoption on
the adopted child (Adeimeji & Alawode, 2000). This served as an example for the
other parts of the federation which embraced the idea in succession. Lagos
legislated adoption law in (1981), Bendel state (1979), Cross River state (1981),
Ogun state (1983) and Enugu state (1989) (Adedimeji & Alawode, 2000). These
laws were enacted to protect the adopted child from harsh and uncaring parents,
the laws spelt out who is eligible to adopt, who may be adopted, residence and
nationality and legal implications. These adoption laws advocates for a good
family home environment which is considered vital to the sound development of a
child. This advocacy follows the united national convention in the right of the child
(1990), and the African charter on the rights and welfare of the adopted child
(1999) (institute for human rights and development in African, 2000). These laws
and acts give the adopted child a maximum protection from undue exploitation by
the adopter and empowered the social workers to monitor periodically the
relationships that exist between the adopted child and adoptive parents.
Meanwhile, child adoption is a challenging social process in Nigeria and
more so in Igbo land where the ‘bastard’ syndrome is rife. The Igbo people have
their own peculiar forms of customary behaviours particular systems of social
relationships and distinctive culture. The Igbo nation is a group of people that live
in the south Eastern part of Nigeria. Child adoption has found its way into Igbo
culture when the rate of infertility became so high among married couples, the only
option becomes adoption as a means of having children (Anderson 2012).
In Igbo land, the primary function of marriage is for procreation, thus having
children is a source of personal satisfaction and social status. Generally, in Igbo
land a woman’s status is measured in terms of her ability to procreate. The number
of children a woman has in Igbo land guarantee her respect and enhanced her
status in the community (Okenwa, 2012). According to Handworker (1989), he
asserts that child bearing was a singular important mechanism used by women to
gain access to the resources on which their material welfare depend. Thus, in Igbo
traditional society childless parents can go to any length to get a child. In Igbo
land, adoption is a legal procedure that makes a child born by a woman to become
the legal child of someone else (Okenwa 2012). Joyce (2013), noted that every
couple do not have to remain perpetually deprived of the joys of parenting.
Meanwhile, the significance of children in the traditional Igbo society is also
portrayed in the general ideology that childless couples are incomplete or
inadequate or misfit regardless of their social status. This is depicted in some
names given to children in typical Igbo society. Such names are: “Nwamaka”,
meaning children are blessing, “Nwakaego” meaning children are more important
than wealth. “Nwabuife” meaning, children are light in the family (Joyce, 2013).
However, child adoption practices have been viewed as a societal solution to
child abandonment and an alternative solution to some couples to make up for the
sex of a child which they lack (Anderson, 2012). While, this is true in most of
developed countries around the world, the case of adoption appeared differently in
Igbo land especially in Enugu state and in Nsukka metropolis precisely, where
childless couples may decide to stay childless than shopping to adopt a child from
orphanage home. Igbo’s who are believed to place more importance on children in
the family are not willing to show interest to adopt these children of orphanage
homes, those that showed interest never want to go public in their ambition.
Therefore, issues of adoption remained secret in Igbo cultural setting. That is the
reason why attitude had come to play an important role in the issue of child
adoption in Igbo land, specifically in Nsukka metropolis.
Attitude is the psychological response to a person, an object, to a situation,
to society and to life itself that generally influence our behaviour and reaction.
Goldstein (1982) defines attitude as a readiness of the psyche to act or react in a
certain way. The people’s attitude towards adoption is what the study set out to
examine. The researcher wants to understand the attitude of the adults in Nsukka
metropolis towards child adoption. These attitudes of adults in Nsukka metropolis
towards the issues of child adoption may have some psychological constructs that
are responsible for it. The verbal reports, overt behaviour and some physiological
indicator hold some psychological constructs responsible for the attitude some
adults held towards child adoption. Such constructs are self-esteem, locus of
control etc.
However, self-esteem has been conceptualized by social psychologist as the
overall attitude people hold towards themselves which may be positive or negative.
Robert (2012), opined that, the degree to which we perceive ourselves positively or
negatively or overall attitude towards ourselves which can be measured explicitly
or implicitly can be one self-esteem. Our self-esteem at times can be high or low
depending on how we perceive ourselves, and what we feel that we are worth in
the society. Most a times, people who feel that their respect is at stake in the
society if they go into adoption, may shun such practice. Therefore, self-esteem
may determine to a larger extent, the choice and will of childless couples to opt for
adoption and also have a good parental attitude towards the adopted child.
Nevertheless, the concept of locus of control may play a significant role on
the willingness to adopt a child by the childless couples. The locus of control of an
individual, which is the belief that there is external or internal forces responsible
for any human action. Individuals with internal locus of control believe that events
in their life derive primarily from their own action, while individuals with external
locus of control belief that events in their lives have connections with external
forces (Carlson, 2007). Therefore, the issue of locus of control is a case of
personality. However many adults may or may not be hindered by their personality
factor not to bring the idea of child adoption, which the research set to find out.
Finally, child adoption practices balance on the individual make-ups of the
male or female personality that wishes to have children through adoption. And
mapped-up belief that most of the abandoned children that constitute the greater
percent of adoptees are children without good background and parental home.
Statement of the Problem
The rate of child adoption in Nigeria today is almost nearing a pitch height.
Adoption has taken another dimension given the fact that childless couples are
desperate to raise children that will take after them and take care of them at old
age. Society is worried about the welfare of these children adopted. In Igbo land
specifically Nsukka in Enugu State, much is being talked about adoption and many
people are adopting children because of health and social problems of infertility
and other reasons. Children are adopted to fill the vacuum created in the family of
childlessness. The challenge in Igbo Land is that the process of adoption has been
shrouded in secrecy. Nickman (1985) asserted that the practice of adoption lead to
the psychological problem that associated with separating mother and infant, an
event labeled as “psychological amputation”.
The belief that lost of true identity of the adoptees make them look a little
like second class citizens in the society, attracts stigmatization to the adoptees. And
this may affect the attitude of adoptive adults who may wish to adopt them.
Besides, the public may see the adoptive parents as couples who are dysfunctional,
not capable to produce their own biological children and therefore they are misfit
in the society. It is believed that some psychological constructs may influence the
attitude of some adults towards child adoption. Thus, this study intends to answer
the following questions:
i. Will self-esteem of an individual adult influence his or her attitude
towards child adoption?
ii. Will locus of control of an individual adult influence his or her attitude
towards child adoption?
iii. Will gender influence an individual adults attitude towards child
Purpose of the Study
Research on people’s attitude towards adoption could be a guide in social
policy and social work practices.
Therefore, this study is aimed at identifying the role played by psychological
factors such as self esteem and locus of control as well as gender in influencing the
attitude of the adult individual towards child adoption in Nsukka metropolis.
Operational Definition of Terms
1. Self – Esteem: The degree to which we perceive ourselves positively or
negatively as measured by the Rosenberg self – esteem scale 1965.
2. Attitude Towards Child Adoption: People’s feelings and thoughts that
influence their behaviour towards adoption as measured by attitude
questionnaire designed by the researcher.
3. Locus of Control: Psychological construct that holds the belief that one’s
success or failure has a link with internal or external forces that compel
behaviour as measured by Terry (2003).
4. Child Adoption: An act of transferring parental rights and duties to
someone other than the biological