Mothers Who Kill Children They Have Adopted

by Katherine Elizabeth Sunder

Institution: Wright State University Professional Psychology Program
Department: School of Professional Psychology
Degree: Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Year: 2015
Keywords: Psychology; mother; adoptive mother; adopted children; adopted daughter; adopted son; murder; killing; filicide
Record ID: 2058281
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=wsupsych1407793224


A mother killing her child is a disturbing and puzzling crime. While extensive research has been conducted on mothers who kill their biological children, little information is known about mothers who kill children they have adopted. Previous research has suggested specific typologies and characteristics of mothers who kill their biological children. The current research reviews these typologies and investigates whether they can be applied to the mothers who kill adopted children. A review of the cases in the United States from 1993 through 2013 that involved mothers who killed children they had adopted was conducted. The similarities and differences between mothers who kill their adopted children and mothers who kill their biological children are described. The common factors and general patterns that exist among these mothers are examined to help create a new typology and propose a theory for why a mother decides to kill her adopted child.