Damaging backgrounds: later adjustment of international adoptees

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1992 May;31(3):518-24. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199205000-00020.


In this study of 2,148 international adoptees aged 10 to 15 years, the influence of early adverse experiences on later adjustment was examined. It was found that early neglect, abuse, and the number of changes of caretaking environment increased the risk for later maladjustment. The older the age of the child at placement, the greater the probability that the child had been subjected to psychosocial adversities. This association sufficiently explained the greater likelihood of later maladjustment with increasing age of the child at placement. Age at placement, as such, did not contribute to the prediction of later maladjustment, independent of the influence of early adversities. The present study underscores the importance that parents and professionals should obtain reliable and detailed information on the child's background and functioning before adoption. This study also showed that the majority of adopted children, even those with backgrounds known to be damaging, seemed to function quite well according to their parents' reports.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adoption / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychosocial Deprivation*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment