Early adversity and children's regulatory deficits: Does postadoption parenting facilitate recovery in postinstitutionalized children?

Kalsea J. Koss, Jamie M. Lawler, Megan R. Gunnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Children reared in orphanages typically experience the lack of stable, reliable caregivers and are at increased risk for deficits in regulatory abilities including difficulties in inhibitory control, attention, and emotion regulation. Although adoption results in a radical shift in caregiving quality, there remains variation in postadoption parenting, yet little research has examined postadoption parenting that may promote recovery in children experiencing early life adversity in the form of institutional care. Participants included 93 postinstitutionalized children adopted between 15 and 36 months of age and 52 nonadopted same-aged peers. Parenting was assessed four times during the first 2 years postadoption (at 2, 8, 16, and 24 months postadoption) and children's regulation was assessed at age 5 (M age = 61.68 months) and during kindergarten (M age = 71.55 months). Multiple parenting dimensions including sensitivity/responsiveness, structure/limit setting, and consistency in routines were examined. Both parental sensitivity and structure moderated the effect of preadoption adversity on children's emotion regulation while greater consistency was associated with better inhibitory control and fewer attention problems. Results support the notion that postadoption parenting during toddlerhood and the early preschool years promotes better regulation skills following early adversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-896
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial Support. Grant support was provided by R01 MH080905 and P50 MH078105 (to M.R.G.) and by NIMH training grants T32 MH018921 and T32 MH15755 (to K.J.K.).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019.


  • early adversity
  • executive function
  • international adoption
  • parenting
  • regulation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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