Pathways to Successful Queer Stepfamily Formation

Carrie Bergeson, Autumn Bermea, Jacqueline Bible, Kristin Matera, Brad van Eeden-Moorefield, Mike Jushak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Queer stepfamilies occupy multiple marginalized statuses (e.g., queer, step). Accordingly, it is logical to expect these stepfamilies might be particularly vulnerable to adjustment difficulties, and scant literature demonstrates some of these. Other literature suggests some queer stepfamilies might be particularly flexible, adept, and less rooted in heteronormative ideals (e.g., expecting queer repartnerships to function like first partnerships) when adjusting to stepfamily life. However, the processes these families use to navigate stepfamily formation and adjustment are relatively unexplored. The current phenomenological study identified the strategies queer stepfamilies used to navigate early stepfamily life and how combinations of strategies represented larger pathways of family formation. Data came from family, couple, and individual focal child interviews about the lived experiences of six queer stepfamilies. Participants reported strategies consistent with Oswald’s [(2002). Resilience within the family networks of lesbians and gay men: Intentionality and redefinition. Journal of Marriage and FamilyFamily, 64(2), 374. 383, doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00374.x] redefinition and intentionality framework. Variations in how these strategies were used led to the identification of three pathways. In contrast to a traditional monolithic view of queer families, our findings identify important within-group variations. The strategies and pathways suggest important implications for how practitioners might conduct assessments and carry out a strengths-based course of treatment or psychoeducation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-384
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of GLBT Family Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 3 Aug 2020


  • LGBT
  • adjustment
  • family formation
  • phenomenology
  • queer theory
  • resilience


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