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Child Neuropsychol. 2016;22(1):39-64.

A longitudinal investigation of children internationally adopted at school age.

Abstract

Most existing research on children adopted internationally has focused on those adopted as infants and toddlers. The current study longitudinally tracked several outcomes, including cognitive, behavioral, emotional, attachment, and family functioning, in 25 children who had been internationally adopted at school age (M = 7.7 years old at adoption, SD = 3.4, range = 4–15 years). We examined the incidence of clinically significant impairments, significant change in outcomes over the three study points, and variables that predicted outcomes over time. Clinically significant impairments in sustained attention, full-scale intelligence, reading, language, executive functioning, externalizing problems, and parenting stress were common, with language and executive functioning impairments present at higher levels in the current study compared with past research focusing on children adopted as infants and toddlers. Over the three study points, significant improvements across most cognitive areas and attachment functioning were observed, though significant worsening in executive functioning and internalizing problems was present. Adoptive family-specific variables, such as greater maternal education, smaller family size, a parenting approach that encouraged age-expected behaviors, home schooling, and being the sole adopted child in the family were associated with greater improvement across several cognitive outcomes. In contrast, decreased parenting stress was predicted by having multiple adopted children and smaller family sizes were associated with greater difficulties with executive functioning. Child-specific variables were also linked to outcomes, with girls displaying worse attachment and poorer cognitive performance and with less time in orphanage care resulting in greater adoption success. Implications for future research and clinical applications are discussed.

PMID:
26835531
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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