Adopted Adolescents' Preoccupation with Adoption: The Impact on Adoptive Family Relationships

By Kohler, Julie K.; Grotevant, Harold D. et al. | Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2002 | Go to article overview

Adopted Adolescents' Preoccupation with Adoption: The Impact on Adoptive Family Relationships


Kohler, Julie K., Grotevant, Harold D., McRoy, Ruth G., Journal of Marriage and Family


This study examines the relationship between the intensity of adopted adolescents' thinking about their adoptions and their adoptive family relationships. Participants included 135 adopted adolescents involved in an ongoing study of openness in adoption. Adolescents who reported high levels of preoccupation with adoption reported greater alienation from their adoptive fathers than did adolescents who reported moderate or low levels of preoccupation. Adolescents with extremely high levels of preoccupation reported significantly higher levels of alienation and significantly lower levels of trust for their adoptive mothers and fathers than adolescents with extremely low levels of preoccupation. These findings, along with the divergences between adolescents' perceptions of dyadic and overall family relationships, are discussed in terms of how they relate to the process of adoptive identity exploration.

Key Words: adoption, family relationships, identity development, parent-adolescent relationships.

Adopted persons differ in the degrees to which they are curious about birthparents or their biological heritage (Sachdev, 1989). The desire of some adopted adults to gain information about their background or to establish contact with their birthparents or other birthfamily members has been a topic of particular interest within the field of adoption research (see Bertocci & Schechter, 1991; Haugaard, Schustack, & Dorman, 1998). Often, this curiosity has been linked to adopted persons' psychological development, most notably their formation of a sense of identity (Sobol & Cardiff, 1983).

From a developmental perspective, identity formation-achieving a cohesive definition of the self while individuating from parents or family-- is thought to be the primary developmental task of adolescence (Erikson, 1968). Although all adolescents construct a global sense of identity, adoption adds an additional dimension of "differentness" to integrate into one's overall sense of self (Grotevant, 1997). Moreover, it is thought that adopted adolescents construct an adoptive identity-a unique meaning of what it means to be an adopted person (Grotevant, Dunbar, Kohler, & Esau, 2000). The focus of this study is the connection between these identity development processes and adoptive family relationships.

Because of the transpiring "identity work," increased distance is hypothesized to occur between adoptive parents and children during adolescence (Sobol, Delaney, & Earn, 1994). This study explores the relationship between the intensity of adolescents' thinking about their own adoptions and birthparents and their family relationships. Specifically, it seeks to determine whether adolescents who report greater preoccupation with their adoptions or birthparents also report different levels of alienation, trust, and communication with their adoptive mothers and fathers and different levels of overall family functioning. It further investigates the role of openness in adoption and gender in these dynamics.

In the following sections, we review the literature on searching as it relates to adopted adolescents' identity exploration, openness in adoption, and adoptive family relationships. The searching literature often uses the term "search" loosely, encompassing a wide range of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors pertaining to adopted persons' strong interest in learning more about their birthparents, from "intense curiosity" about birthparents to actual search behavior, such as trying to locate them through the use of the Internet or phone directories (Stein & Hoopes, 1985). For the purposes of this research, searching is conceptualized in its broadest sense-as a marker of curiosity. The underlying assumption of this research is that curiosity about adoption and birthparents is expressed differently during different developmental stages. Although this study does not investigate actual search behavior, it does examine behaviors that are believed to more aptly capture the ways that adolescents express their curiosity about adoption-intense, reflective thinking. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Adopted Adolescents' Preoccupation with Adoption: The Impact on Adoptive Family Relationships
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.