Behavior problems and attachment in adopted and non-adopted adolescents

María Josefina Escobar, Ximena Pereira, María Pía Santelices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many studies have shown that adopted adolescents present more behavioral problems than non-adopted adolescents do. However, few studies have been published about national adoption in South America, even though this is the most common type of adoption in these countries. The goal of this study was to examine the differences in behavioral problems between nationally adopted and non-adopted adolescents (using Achenbach's Child Behavior Check-list (CBCL) and the Youth Self Report (YSR)), as well as to examine the relationship between behavioral problems and attachment style in adolescents. Participants: 25 adolescents adopted at the age of 6. months or older and 25 non-adopted adolescents. Results: No significant differences were found between groups in terms of behavioral problems. Adolescents adopted at a later age presented more "social problems" than those who were adopted earlier on. Even though the adopted adolescents presented more insecure attachment, there were no significant differences between groups in terms of behavioral problems and attachment style. There was a significant interaction between adoption and attachment on the Thought Problems scale of the YSR, with the non-adopted/insecure adolescents scoring higher. Possible interpretations of these results are presented in the discussion. In general, the adopted adolescents were not significantly different from the adolescents who grew up with their birth families. Furthermore, adoption within the first two years of life may represent a protective factor against "social problems" during adolescence. These findings may contribute to the de-stigmatization of adoption and a move away from the idea that adopted adolescents are "difficult".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume42
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Adopted adolescents
  • Attachment style
  • Behavior problems
  • Informant discrepancies

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