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Adopted foster youths’ psychosocial functioning: a longitudinal perspective

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Researchers have long debated whether adopted youth manifest disproportionate levels of psychological dysfunction compared with non-adopted youth. Yet, missing from the debate has been a clear understanding of the specific subgroups of adopted youth who may develop behaviour problems and of the risk factors associated with various vulnerable populations. This longitudinal study examined one subpopulation of adopted youth – former foster children – in order to determine their immediate and long-term functioning, particularly in comparison with their adopted non-foster care peers. The central goal of this study was to ascertain the prevalence of behavioural problems in adopted foster youth compared with adopted non-foster youth and to chart the longitudinal course of their behavioural problems. Participants included adopted foster youth (n = 293) and adopted non-foster youth (n = 312) from a statewide sample of adopted youth, aged 2–18 years. Data were collected from the adoptive parents at approximately 2, 4 and 8 years after adoption. Adoptive parents rated youths’ functioning with the Behaviour Problems Inventory. According to parental report, a striking number of the foster youth displayed behaviour problems, although the non-foster care group of children also displayed noteworthy levels of problem behaviours. The rates of behaviour problems in both groups far exceed what is observed in the general population of children.
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Keywords: adoption; behaviour problems; foster children; longitudinal analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Social Work, University of Maryland, College Park, Baltimore, MD, and 2: School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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