Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Lydia Buki

Second Committee Member

Daniel Santisteban

Third Committee Member

Etiony Aldarondo

Fourth Committee Member

Carlos Salgado


This collective case study aimed to gain a better understanding of how families experience prolonged parent-child separations due to migration and the reunification process thereafter. Research thus far shows congruent accounts of child and adolescent distress and ambivalence upon reunification and parental confusion and anger at the difficulties in reconnecting with their child. This study was designed to examine both parent and adolescent experiences with each process, in more depth. Through within and cross-case analysis, I identified factors that make separation and reunification more difficult and that foster family well-being. A total of 3 families (3 mothers, 3 adolescents) participated in the study and engaged in multiple data collection methods including genograms, photovoice and semi-structured interviews. Results of this collective case study highlight the importance of the quality of contact and investment in parenting by (a) having an active co-parenting relationship with their child(ren)'s caretaker, (b) engaging in direct communication with their child(ren) to bond from afar through sharing of experiences, and (c) storytelling and providing emotional support. When these protective factors were present, other risk factors such as length of the separation were mitigated. Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed.


transnational families; Hispanic families; immigration; separations; reunification