Parental experiences of Korean-American immigrant parents of children with developmental disabilities
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Caring for children with developmental disabilities (DDs) poses unique stress and demands on parents. The parents of children with DDs reported higher physical and mental problems compared to other parents of children without DDs. Over the past decades, the number of immigrant families from diverse cultures has shown rapid growth. Korean-Americans (KA) are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States. Immigrant parents of children with DDs may have unique experiences in caring for their child with DDs, but no study to date has examined KA immigrant parents’ experiences in terms of dealing with parental challenges. The purpose of this study is to understand the process of how KA immigrant parents manage parental challenges in raising their children with DDs. In this study, a grounded theory approach was employed. Snowball and theoretical sampling were utilized to select participants; 20 KA parents participated in the study. In-depth interviews (either face-to-face or on the phone) were conducted in the parents’ native language, Korean. This study utilized qualitative software, Nvivo 10, for analyzing data, and it applied grounded theory data analysis methods (i.e. open and axial coding). From rich and illustrative descriptions provided by KA immigrant parents who raise children with DDs, the hope for development theory was developed in relation to experiences in caring for children with DDs. In everyday life, parents encountered challenges due to a wide variety of reasons, making them feel overwhelmed. Nevertheless, they have continued caring for their children. Parents’ hope for their child’s development in terms of any aspect can be their fuel in their long journey. Once parents had hope for their child’s development, parents invested their time and finances and tried whatever they could do to fulfill their hope. Depending on the degree to which they obtained their desired outcomes, parents experienced different emotions ranging from positive to negative. Social support can affect investments, outcomes, and emotional reactions, and as such parents adjusted their hope for their child based on achieved outcomes. This caring management process seems to be repeated across their life course. Findings, implications for social work practice, limitations, and recommendations for future study are also discussed.