Family Interactions in Adoptive Compared to Nonadoptive Families

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Abstract

Despite the large and growing numbers of adoptive families, little research describes interactions in families with adopted adolescents. Yet, adopted adolescents' increased risk for adjustment problems, combined with the association between family interactions and adolescent adjustment in nonadoptive families, raises questions about differences in adoptive and nonadoptive family interactions. We compared observed and self-reported family interactions between 284 adoptive and 208 nonadoptive families and within 123 families with 1 adopted and 1 nonadopted adolescent. Adolescents averaged 14.9 years of age. Comparisons were made using analysis of variance incorporating hierarchical linear methods in SAS PROC MIXED to control family-related correlations in the data. Parents and children reported more conflict in adoptive families when compared with nonadoptive families. Families with 1 adopted and 1 nonadopted adolescent reported more conflict between parents and adopted adolescents. Observed parental behavior was similar across adoptive and nonadoptive children although adopted adolescents were less warm and, in families with 2 adopted children, more conflictual than nonadopted adolescents. These findings suggest a need for further investigation of the association between family interactions and adopted adolescent problem behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-66
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2009

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • adoption
  • adoptive families
  • family interactions

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