Assessing the impact of a virtual support group on adoptive parent stress and competence: Results from an urban/rural pilot study

Child & Family Social Work

Jay Miller, Morgan Cooley, Chunling Niu, Melissa Segress, Jessica Fletcher, Karen Bowman, Theresia Maria Pachner (2021).

Despite the use of support groups among adoptive parents, few empirical works have assessed outcomes associated with participation in these groups, particularly those delivered via virtual platforms. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of participation in a virtual, pilot-phase 10-week adoptive parent support group, on adoptive parent stress and parental competence. The pilot included support groups at two sites in one south-eastern state, one urban and the other rural. Data were collected via a retrospective pre-/post-design and utilized the Parental Stress Scale and Parental Sense of Competency measures to assess variables of interest. Analyses indicate significant increases in adoptive parent competency and significant decreases in parental stress within support groups at the urban site. No such significant differences were detected for participants in the rural group. Overall, findings indicate that support groups can be beneficial in addressing challenges associated with caregiver stress and competency among adoptive parents. As well, data suggest the need to be attentive to support group structure and duration, among other factors. After a brief review of pertinent background information, this paper will outline findings from this study and discuss salient implications derived from this effort


Support, information seeking, and homophily in a virtual support group for adoptive parents: Impact on perceived empathy

Child and Youth Services Review

Jay Millera, Morgan Cooley, Chunling Niu, Melissa Segress, Jessica Fletcher, Karen Bowman, Lindsay Littrell (2019).

Despite the use of virtual support groups among adoptive parents, very few studies have empirically examined outcomes of participating in these groups. This research brief investigated the impact of perceived social support, information seeking effectiveness, and homophily on perceived empathy within a pilot-phase virtual support group for adoptive parents (N = 27) in one southeastern state. Researchers also examined the moderating effect of homophily on these relationships. Findings suggest that while perceived social support was significantly positively related to perceived empathy, there was no association between perceived information seeking effectiveness and perceived empathy. Of variables of interest for this study, only homophily uniquely predicted empathy and was not a moderator in other models. While findings lend credence to the notion that perceived similarities among participants is important, there are implications for developing diverse, inclusive adoptive parent support groups. This brief discusses results from this study and apposite areas for future research.

Virtual support groups among adoptive parents: Ideal for information seeking?

Journal of Technology in Human Services

Jay Miller, Morgan Cooley, Chunling Niu, Melissa Segress, Jessica Fletcher, Karen Bowman & Lindsay Littrell (2019).

Despite the use of online support groups within areas of child welfare, namely post adoptive services, research in this area has not kept pace. This study examined adoptive parent perceptions of a virtual platform utilized for an online support group, and the impact of these perceptions on information seeking effectiveness. Overall, findings indicate that participants viewed the platform as usable, flexible, and congruent with fostering adequate participant interaction. Perceived group interaction, satisfaction with group membership, and perceived usefulness of the virtual platform were all significant predictors of information seeking effectiveness. Data from this study suggest that ample consideration should be given to the form and function of – virtual platforms use to administer support groups. Implications for practice and apposite area of future research are discussed.


Conceptualizing Adoptive Parent Support Groups: A Mixed-Method Process

Adoption Quarterly

Jay Miller, Christine Sauer, Karen Bowman, Shawndaya Thrasher, Kalea Benner, Melissa Segress & Chunling Niu (2018).

Indubitably, the process of adopting a young person, no matter the context, can be challenging. To assist adoptive parents in coping with these challenges, entities (e.g., social service/adoption agencies, etc.) have historically fostered the development of support groups. Despite the intent of these efforts, many adoptive parent support groups utilize frameworks that are not congruent with meeting the needs of group participants. This paper examines the process for using Concept Mapping to conceptualize effective support groups based on the perspectives of adoptive parents in one southeastern state.