Making Up For Lost Time: The Experience of Separation and Reunification Among Immigrant Families
Todorova, Irina L.G.
Rochester, NY: Family Process, Inc.
Family Process v.41 n.4, 2002, 625-643 pages
Analyzes five-year longitudinal data from 385 youths of various native cultures to determine the impact of separation and reunification. The data are derived from the Longitudinal Immigrant Student Adaptation Study (LISA) at Harvard University and included youth from Central America, China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mexico currently living in the Boston or San Francisco metropolitan areas. Data collection was based on student and parent interviews using a variety of open-ended or forced choice questions to determine schooling expectations, kinship, family life, social networks, and aspirations. Results indicated that 85% of the youth in the sample were separated from one or both parents during the migration process with the length of separation between two to five years. Anecdotal information from the interviews reveals the pain experienced by the children during these separations. Reunification was described with relief and joy but with strong feelings of disorientation and disconnection between parent and child. Although the process of separation and reunification is complex, family therapists must assess the context and circumstances of the separation to determine the long-term effects. If the process was managed with cooperation and communication between parent and caretaker, the feelings of loss should be minimized.
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