Have you ever wondered how an adoption experience would affect your family? Have you considered adoption but been afraid because of some of the stories that you hear or because of the high-profile stories that have been in the press? I believe most families considering adoption would answer yes to both those questions. However, a landmark study of 600 families by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Twin and Family Research, gives is shedding some light on the adoption experience.
Information about the study can be found here, but some of the more interesting and significant preliminary results show:
1. There is virtually no difference in psychological functioning between children raised in adoptive families and those raised in biological families. In measures of delinquency, antisocial attitudes, aggression, substance abuse, and other problem behaviors, the differences between adopted children and children being raised by their biological families were insignificant. Measures of well-being, identity, academic achievement, and other positive characteristics were also virtually identical.
2. Sibling relationships appear unaffected by adoption. Relationships were equally close and loving among all kinds of sibling pairs (adopted-adopted, adopted-bio, and bio-bio).
3. In parent-child relationships, researchers identified some differences between adoptive and biological families. Parents and children felt as attached to each other in adoptive families as in biological families, but adopted children reported more conflict with parents than did biological offspring. This did not, however, result in greater behavior problems outside the home, as might have been expected.
4. Despite the absence of genetic links, adoptive siblings are psychologically similar to one another in some significant ways. As would be expected, siblings by adoption showed no similarities in the kinds of personality traits that psychologists know to be largely genetic in origin, such as being shy or outgoing. In two areas of behavior, however, researchers identified surprising similarities among adoptive siblings. First, in academic achievement, adoptive siblings turned out to have comparable IQs (although not as similar as those of biological siblings), as well as similar academic motivation and achievement levels. This is likely attributable to parental influence. Adoptive siblings were also alike in regard to problem behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol use, and disobedience. Having an older sibling with problem behavior was highly predictive of such behavior in younger siblings. Thus, the research suggests that problem behavior is less a matter of parental influence than of sibling influence.
My experience as a mom to both a birth child and children who have been adopted has had its ups and downs. I don’t believe many of those ups and downs are a direct result of the adoption experience however, but rather to the lives my children lived before joining my family. But even through the difficult times, we have been and always will be a family, first and foremost.