April 28, 2015 | 9 a.m.
By Tricia Theurer, Communications Specialist
Gretchen Wrobel, professor of psychology, received a grant from the Council of Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) to examine religious motivations for adoption. In her proposal, “The Role of Religiosity in the Motivation to Adopt,” she wrote that the project “seeks to examine. . . how [religious motivations] relate to decisions made by adoptive parents in the initial stages of planning to adopt as well as how they relate to a range of outcomes over time.”
Pointing out the changing forms of the American family, she wrote that when it comes to adoption, “additional research is necessary to understand the implications of these complex family forms. Within adoptive families, many parents are motivated by religious reasons to add children to their family.”
Wrobel describes the purpose of the planning grant as using “a multidisciplinary lens to explore specifically how religiosity impacts the motivation to adopt a child.” She and her team will consider how three important data sets (Calvin Adoption Project, Minnesota-Texas Adoption Project, and National Survey of Adoptive Parents), which represent both international and domestic adoption, work together to address the motivation to adopt a child. Using existing, major data is an efficient way to address the issue, she claimed. Members of the planning grant have already conducted longitudinal research on adoptive families.
Designing the project involves five steps: data compilation and consideration, literature review, hypotheses creation, planning of analysis and dissemination, and development of the grant application. At a meeting this summer at Calvin College in Michigan, the team will determine areas of intersection among the datasets. This work will enable the team to “identify variables relevant to the overarching research question regarding motivation to adopt as well as demographics of the adoptive parents and adoptees (e.g. age, gender), their level of religiosity, and other topics of exploration,” she states. The group plans to complete their research plan in March 2016.
In a recommendation to the chair of the grant committee, Barrett Fisher, Bethel associate dean of arts and humanities, supports Wrobel’s proposal, noting the “quality of her scholarship as well as the significance of this proposal for Bethel’s institutional values.” Citing her “impressive record of publication” and her work as co-investigator for the Minnesota-Texas Adoption Research Project, he concludes that “she possesses the knowledge, experience, and aptitude necessary to direct this grant successfully.”
Wrobel is serving as project director for the research. Team members Emily Helder, assistant professor of psychology, and Elisha Marr, assistant professor of sociology, teach at Calvin College. Harold D. Grotevant, Rudd Family Foundation Chair in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, serves as a consultant.