Emotional Disturbance in Adopted Adolescents: Origins and Development

Emotional Disturbance in Adopted Adolescents: Origins and Development

Emotional Disturbance in Adopted Adolescents: Origins and Development

Emotional Disturbance in Adopted Adolescents: Origins and Development

Synopsis

"A report of research on two groups of residentially placed, emotionally disturbed adolescents compared on the basis of their adoptive status. A post hoc comparison with a nondisturbed adoptive group is also included. . . . McRoy, Grotevant, and Zurcher examine factors related to adoption that may contribute to the development of emotional difficulties. The authors' suggestions are worthy of consideration by professionals in the field. . . . The theoretical reviews of potential sources of difficulty in adoption are well done and informative, and the presentation of the perspectives of both adoptees and adoptive parents is also laudable." Choice

Excerpt

Adoption is a social and legal process in which a parent-child relationship is established between persons unrelated by birth. Through this process a child born to one set of parents becomes the child of other parents, a member of another family, and thereby assumes the rights and duties of children in birthfamilies (Costin, 1972).

Accurate annual statistics on adoption in the United States have not been available since 1975 because of a lack of standard mandatory reporting. However, the National Committee for Adoption (NCFA, 1985) has estimated that 141,861 adoptions occurred in the United States in 1982. Of these adoptions, 50,720 involved children unrelated to their adopting parents. The NCFA estimated conservatively that 17,602 adoptions (12.4 percent of total) were adoptions of healthy infants by non-relatives. The largest number of these adoptions (5,176, or 29.4 percent) occurred in Texas. Overall, unrelated adoptions of healthy infants represented approximately 0.48 percent of U.S. live births in 1982 and 2.46 percent of live births to unmarried women. It is estimated that between 2 and 3.5 percent of children under eighteen in the United States are adopted (Kadushin, 1974; Senior and Himadi, 1985).

Researchers have paid close attention to the demographic and social-psychological factors associated with parents' decisions to adopt (Chambers, 1970;Fellner, 1968;Kadushin, 1962;Maas, 1960) or to make adoption plans for their children (Bachrach, 1986). However, much less attention has been given to adoptive family relationships and to the long-term adjustment issues in adoptive families (Brinich and Brinich, 1982;Fanshel, 1972;McRoy and Zurcher, 1983).

A major concern of adoption workers and adoptive families is whether adopted children are more at risk for emotional disturbance than non-adopted children. Research data suggest that adopted children are referred for psychological treatment two to five times more frequently than their non-adopted peers. This finding has been . . .

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