The phenomenon of international adoption is growing in Italy but limited knowledge is available regarding the adjustment of adopted persons. Adoptees go through some degree of psychological and social problems following adoption. This premise is based on the adoptees’ loss of their biological parents, being cared for by people who may not be related to them and being adopted by persons of a different nationality and culture (Rosnati, Montirosso & Barni, 2007).
A review of related literature supports this assumption. Studies reveal that experiences prior to adoption are significant factors that contribute to the capacity to adjust (Rosnati, Montirosso & Barni, 2007). The traumatic experiences including abuse, neglect and emotional deprivation experienced by the adoptees are found to contribute to adjustment difficulties. Age also matters. The older the person is at the time of adoption, the greater the likelihood of problems.
However, school age is the period where most problems become evident (Rosnati, Montirosso & Barni, 2007). Other factors such as gender and socioeconomic status have not yielded consistent results with respect to adopted persons. The chosen study conducted a comparison between the degree of behavioral and social problems experienced by non-adopted and adopted persons using the perception of both parents as basis (Rosnati, Montirosso & Barni, 2007).
It also determined the extent in which both parents’ perceptions agree with each other. The study was participated in by 186 adoptive couples – the experimental group, 195 biological couples – the control group, and their school-aged children (Rosnati, Montirosso & Barni, 2007). The dependent variable is the behavioral problem. The independent variables are age at the time of the study, age at the time of adoption and gender while the control variable is socioeconomic status (Rosnati, Montirosso & Barni, 2007).
The results of the study revealed that a majority of the adopted children were generally adjusting well although they were perceived by their parents to have higher chances of experiencing problems compared to their non-adopted counterparts (Rosnati, Montirosso & Barni, 2007). Parents identified problems as attention-seeking behavior, anxiety and depression. Further, the agreement of perception of both parents with regard to their child’s behavior was closer in adoptive parents than in biological parents.
Contrary to the findings of previous research, the study also found out that there was no significant effect of socio-economic status on the differences in behavior of the adopted and non-adopted persons (Rosnati, Montirosso & Barni, 2007). Age and gender also did not significantly contribute to differences between the two groups. Instead, problems were more likely related to the person’s stage of development. It is the researchers’ view that the results of their study do not warrant a generalization of Italy’s international adoptees population.
Further questions that need to be answered in order to increase the quality of information involves results if: participants are from other regions of Italy, informants outside the family are included, other methods of data gathering and indicators for adjustment aside from behavioral problems are used and a longitudinal study is conducted (Rosnati, Montirosso & Barni, 2007).
List of References
Rosnati, R. , Montirosso, R. and Barni, D. (2007). “Behavioral and Emotional Problems Among Italian International Adoptees and Non-Adopted Children: Father’s and Mother’s Report”. Journal of Family Psychology 22(4), pp. 541-49.