Title

Childhood Adoption: Long-Term Effects in Adulthood

Publication Date

1998

Journal

Psychiatry

Volume

61

Issue

3

First Page

191

Last Page

205

Abstract

Clinicians and researchers have characterized early life experiences as permanent and stable influences on the personality and subsequent life experiences of an individual. Recent conceptualizations have suggested that personal and environmental factors influencing development are not deterministic. Multiple pathways into adulthood are possible. Adoption is one potential early life stressor that may illustrate the usefulness of such conceptualizations for assessing long-term effects in adulthood. Previous studies of adoption have characterized the effects of adoption into adolescence and young adulthood. The purpose of this study was to provide an initial assessment of the long-term impact of adoption. The participants were taken from the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging. From the original sample, we identified a subsample of 60 pairs of twins who were separated and reared apart, with one member being raised by a biological parent or parents and the other by an adoptive parent or parents with no biological relationship. A series of univariate and multivariate analyses were undertaken to assess the elements associated with being reared in either an adoptive home or the home of biological parent(s). The results suggest few significant effects of adoption on the adult adjustment of adoptees. In particular, the results reflect the important mediating role of childhood socioeconomic status, suggesting that the stress of adoption itself is mediated by the type of rearing environment provided by the adoption process.

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