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Behavior Problems and Internationally Adopted Children

Additional components may influence the behavior of international adoptees compared with that of domestically adopted children. Many international adoptees are transracially adopted. They appear physically different from their parents and perhaps from their siblings. They may belong to a racial minority in their communities. Within the family and community, these children are "visibly" adopted. The effect of this visible adoption has not yet been fully evaluated. Results may differ in various receiving countries.

For example the Scandinavian countries receive many internationally adopted children from Asia and Latin America. These countries are relatively homogeneous; adopted children may be mistaken for immigrants and assumptions made about socioeconomic class, education and background. Even in more heterogeneous societies, such as the Netherlands, internationally adopted children may stand out compared to their Dutch-born peers. About 30% of 7 year old internationally adopted children in the Netherlands scored in the clinical range on the Child Behavior Check List, compared to 10% of controls. When biologically related and unrelated international adoptees were compared, genetic contributions were identified as important to attention problems and externalizing behaviors.

In a larger study, behavior issues were investigated among 2,148 international adoptees in the Netherlands. The children were adopted from Korea (32%), Colombia (14.6), India (9.5%), Indonesia (7.9%), Bangladesh (6.7%), Lebanon (4.9%), Austria (5%), and other countries (19.4%) (a different distribution of birth countries than that for children adopted by American parents). The majority of adopted children had scores similar to non-adopted Dutch children on the Achenback Child Behavior Checklist. However, nearly four times more 12 to 15 year old adopted boys had delinquent behaviors ("Steals outside the home," "steals at home," "hangs around children who get into trouble," "vandalism," "lying and cheating," "truancy") and other misconduct, and more than three times more scored in the deviant range on the Hyperactive scale.


From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.


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