Latinas Experiencing Transnational Motherhood Rosa Maria Sternberg R.N. Ph.D. Family Health Care Nursing University of California San Francisco Transnational Motherhood Is defined as the lived experience of mothers who migrate internationally and mother from afar. (Schmalzbauer, 2008) Purpose of the Study This study aimed to explore the experiences of Latinas living transnational motherhood. Researcher’s Perspective • Immigrant • Nurse in the community • Vision of change and social justice Background • Immigration of Latinas – Escaping extreme poverty & or violence – Undocumented – Immigrate in search of jobs – To send remittances & – Support their families from abroad Methodology Qualitative Design Philosophical Approach: Hermeneutic Phenomenology Max Van Manen (1990) Semi-structured Interviews Spanish 1 to 2 hours in length Audio taped In their homes and local restaurants Sample Eight Latina transnational mothersSouth Florida Convenience sample Snowball sample Demographics – El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico – Ages 21 to 39 years of age – 1 to 6 children back in their country – 50% (n=4) women were married – 40% (n=3) women had given birth since living in the U.S. Demographics – In the U.S. 1 to 13 years – 40% (n=3) of women - 9 to 11 years of formal education – 60% (n=5) of women - 3 to 5 years of formal education Findings Seven Essential Themes Emerged from the Data Seven Essential Themes 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Living in extreme poverty Having hope Choosing to walk away from poverty Suffering through the trip here Mothering from afar Valuing family Changing personally Theme #1 Living in Extreme Poverty • Without basic human needs: – – – – – – Food Clean drinking water Sanitation Clothing Adequate shelter Health care • Without opportunity for work • Endured violence Dolores, “We are very poor and we have nothing…I came here because it is the only way.” Theme #2 Having Hope • Believed in a better life for their children • Hoped for reunification with children Ana “I would like for people to know how incredibly difficult it is for us to separate ourselves from our children. We do it so they can have opportunities and hope for a better life.” Theme #3 Choosing to Walk Away from Poverty • Made difficult decisions • Had the courage to leave their country, family and children Maria, “I knew that when I made that decision it was going to be hard, and that I was going to suffer. I knew that when people told me that I could bring them, it was not going to be easy. One knows that is not going to be soon. One knows when one makes that decision how much one will suffer.” Theme #4 Suffering Through the Trip Here • Feared the dangers of a grueling journey • Endured thirst, hunger & unbearable conditions • Harsh treatment and violence Beatriz “After breaking my foot I was in so much pain…I cried at night ... my friend would say ‘Beatriz don’t cry, think of your children –you are fighting for your children.’ So, every time I looked up those mountains I thought – MY CHILDREN! MY CHILDREN!” Theme #5 Mothering from Afar • Enduring the pain of separating from their children • Sadness-agony • Worry about their children’s safety • Keep in contact- “mothering” • Provide for children and family • Send remittances • Live and suffer hardship Consuelo, “I can go back any time …at any moment …but I know that if I go back no one eats.” Theme #6 Valuing Family • Negotiate family role changes • Endure family conflict • Feel gratitude for family support • Missing their family Rosario, “Being here I feel good and bad…over there I have all my family…all the people that I love. Theme #7 Changing Personally • Forming a new family • Adopting new cultural traditions • Finding new meaning in faith • Becoming independent, stronger, more assertive • Living hope Margarita, “ …I am very different here. When I was in Mexico I thought you had to obey to everything everyone tells you to do…but now I don’t think that anymore.” Latinas experiencing transnational motherhood find meaning in mothering from afar through embodied sacrifice, suffering, and hopefulness of a better life for their children and for family reunification. “I am willing to sacrifice…the love of a mother is to sacrifice, and even though I have them far away, and my heart is in pieces, I know that they can eat… so we sacrifice.” Beatriz In this study, the experiences of Latina transnational mothers revealed a need for reflection on their human condition and account for their needs in health care, education, research and policy development. Their plight can be alleviated by giving voice to their silence and advocating to reduce the inequalities that afflict them.