Latest Research on the Mental Health of Adopted Children

What does the latest research show on the emotional and mental health of adopted children? How do adoptees fare later in life? Our guest is Dr. Kathleen Whitten, a developmental psychologist and adoptive mother who researches the mental health of adopted children. She has been a lecturer in psychology at Georgia State University and at the University of Virginia, where she was also a research faculty member at the Child-Parent Attachment Clinic, Department of Psychiatric Medicine. She was named a Distinguished Fellow in Developmental Psychology by the National Council for Adoption in Washington, D.C. She is also the author of Labor of the Heart: A Parent’s Guide to the Decisions and Emotions in Adoption.

Hit the Highlights
  • What do you mean by mental health? How is it measured by researchers? How broad is this definition?
  • Generally when you look at the research as a whole, how does the mental health of adopted persons fare in comparison to non-adopted people?
  • What factors affect how much faith you should put in the research results?
  • In the “better” research, how big is the sample size? How many adoptees are being studied?
  • How much of the research is longitudinal?
  • Are the adopted children and families randomly selected or have they volunteered for these studies?
  • What factors influence mental health of adopted children?
    • Quality of attachment with the previous caregiver
    • Age at adoption
    • Intrauterine exposure to drugs or alcohol
    • International vs. domestic
  • Has research been able to tease out the protective factors that help some kids thrive despite risk factors while others suffer?
  • Why is there seemingly such variation in the results of adoption research on the mental health of adoptees?
  • How do transracially adopted children fare?  How to they fare compared to non-transracially adopted children?
  • Strength of the adopted family unit.
  • What type of parenting styles or techniques results in the healthiest outcome for kids?
  • What is meant by attachment parenting or sensitive parenting?
  • Open adoption vs. closed adoption.
  • Do adopted kids have a rougher adolescence?
  • Academic achievement is not a mental health issue, but what does the research say?

Don’t miss an episode. Be sure to subscribe.

Leave us a rating or review.

Image Credit: kristingissaro