The Minnesota International Adoption Project is one of my very favorite research programs, and I contribute to them every year to help them with their research. One of their ongoing studies is examining whether children adopted from difficult situations have a more “reactive” stress biology system due to their early experiences. In the fall of 2007 they published their results.
For most of the children, although they may have had more reactive systems when they were adopted, after several years in their adoptive families, their stress systems have settled down. The researchers were rather stunned, but also very happy with the results they found. Both the post-institutionalized children and the children adopted from foster care looked exactly like the birth children in their response to stress in this adoption study.