Behavioral and emotional problems among Italian international adoptees and non-adopted children: father's and mother's reports

J Fam Psychol. 2008 Aug;22(4):541-9. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.22.3.541.


This study intends to fill the gap in empirical research carried out in Italy regarding international adoptees' behavioral and emotional problems. Assuming a multi-informant approach, it aims to compare parents' reports of behavioral problems of adopted and non-adopted children and to examine parental agreement. The sample was composed of 186 adoptive couples and 195 biological couples with the target child between ages 7 and 11 years. The mother and father filled in the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) separately. Analysis of the CBCL revealed that adopted children are perceived by their parents as having more Total and Externalizing Problems than are their non-adopted counterparts. Moreover, they are more likely to demonstrate attention difficulties and aggressive behavior. The agreement between parents turned out to be moderate for adoptive parents and slightly lower for the biological ones. Consistent with most adoption research, the results confirm the higher risk of behavioral problems among adopted children. They also shed light on the significant perceptual discrepancy between mothers and fathers, underlining the importance of considering both parents' reports in the study of adopted children's adjustment.

MeSH terms

  • Adoption / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / ethnology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Mothers*
  • Observer Variation
  • Parents
  • Parturition*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires