Adoption status and family relationships during the transition to young adulthood

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21 Scopus citations


Although adoptive family research has increased, most has focused on childhood and adolescence. Despite the known importance of parent-adolescent relationships drawn from the general population, we know little about how adoptive family relationships change or remain the same as adopted adolescents enter young adulthood. Using the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study, the purpose of this study was to build on previous research to explore differences in conflict, closeness, and relationship quality between adoptive and nonadoptive families during the transition from late adolescence into young adulthood. Self-report and independent observations were collected from children, mothers, and fathers at late adolescence (range: 14.50 -18.49 years) and young adulthood (range:18.50 -22.49 years), and analyzed using within-subjects repeated measures. Although adoptive family dyads had lower relationship indicators than nonadoptive family dyads, similar trends over time occurred for both family types. Using individuation theory, we suggest individuation occurs for both types of families, with adoptees facing unique additional challenges during this process, including integration of adoption status, adoption communicativeness, adoption information seeking, and relationship with birth parents as possible influences in this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)877-886
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Psychological Association.


  • Adolescence
  • Adoption
  • Family relationships
  • Young adulthood


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