Thursday, January 29, 2009

Adoption and Mental Illness

Does adoption pose psychological risks? University of Minnesota researchers revisited this controversial issue recently and found that common DSM-IV childhood disorders are more prevalent in adoptees than nonadoptees.1 They also found that adoptees are more likely to have contact with mental health professionals.

The mental health of adoptees has become an increasingly important issue as the number of adoptions in the United States continues to rise. According to the National Council For Adoption,1 there were 130,269 domestic adoptions and 21,063 intercountry adoptions in 2002. (In 1996 there were 108,463 domestic adoptions and 11,303 intercountry adoptions.) US Census figures in 2000 indicated that nearly 1.6 million children and teenagers under 18 years in the US and Puerto Rico are adopted.2

The adoption study compared a random sample of 540 adolescents born in Minnesota, who were not adopted, with a representative sample of adoptees (514 international adoptees and 178 domestic adoptees). The children had been placed by the 3 largest adoption agencies in Minnesota.3

“All of the kids were adopted within the first 2 years of life, but the great majority were adopted within the first year,” said Margaret A. Keyes, PhD, lead author of the study and a research psychologist. “The average age at placement was 4 months. So it is not as if you are looking at 3- and 4-year-olds coming over on a plane from a faraway country.”


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