The emotional and behavioral adjustment of United States adopted adolescents: Part I. An overview

Anu R. Sharma, Matthew K. McGue, Peter L. Benson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


An sample of adoptees in the adolescence (n = 4682) was compared to a matched control group of 4682 nonadoptees on nine factors of emotional and behavioral adjustment and three factors of family functioning. Adoptees showed small but consistently lower levels of adjustment on 9 of the 12 scales. Adoptees showed significantly higher levels of prosocial behavior. Significant gender by adoption status interaction occurred on two factors: illicit drugs and antisocial behavior. Differences between adopted boys and nonadopted boys were greater than for adopted girls versus nonadopted girls. Race by adoption status showed significant interaction for four factors: illicit drugs, negative emotionality, school adjustment, and parental nurturance. The effect of adoption status was smaller for Asian Americans than other ethnic groups. For Caucasians, small adoption effects occurred on these four factors and effect sizes tended to be larger for Hispanics, African Americans, and American Indians. These results replicate and expand those of previous studies which show small but consistent patterns of differences between adoptees and nonadoptees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-100
Number of pages18
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1996

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This investigation was supported in part by Research Grant #ROl-MH42620 from the National Institute of Mental Health to Search Institute, the RespecTeen Program of Lutheran Brotherhood, Minneapolis, MN, and a research scientist development award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to Matthew McGue #K02-AA00175. Requests for reprints should be addressed to Anu R. Sharma, Search Institute, Thresher Square West, 700 South Third Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415. USA [ 1.


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