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An Examination Of Factors Contributing To Identity Development And Adjustment

3098 words - 12 pages

An Examination of Factors Contributing to Identity Development and Adjustment
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The process of adopting a child internationally is lengthy, costly, and both physically and emotionally exhausting.Since it takes so much to adopt, only a small number of Americans can and do; mostly middle- and upper-middle class couples.Therefore, many internationally adopted children grow up in an environment with ready access to resources, with adults who are able to support them financially and emotionally.In such narrow socioeconomic circumstances, the question then arises: What accounts for those internationally adopted children and youth who do not adjust well?What factors contribute to the normal, healthy development of these individuals?Examining international adoption also brings up this point:Is there really a significant difference between the development of trans-racial, internationally adopted children and their peers who are raised by their biological parents?In order to try and answer these questions, this essay will look at a number of studies from several countries, including America, which cover a range of influences: from secure attachment to the pre-adoption situation, to location, to patterns of normal cognitive development which may negatively impact the emerging identity of a trans-racial adoptee.

In infancy, researchers study attachment patterns between mother and infant and determine if they are securely attached.Overall, infants who are securely attached tend to cry when their mother leaves, but are happy to see her when she comes back (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, p. 212). How do internationally adopted, trans-racial infants compare?Juffer and Rosenbloom (1997)?s Netherlands study found that there was no significant difference in attachment between infant-adopted mother and infant-birth mother dyads (Juffer & Rosenbloom, 1997). This contradicted an earlier study with American mothers and trans-racial infants, who were less securely attached.However, the infants in the Netherlands study, at 11 months, were younger than those in the American study. It is also unclear from this study whether adoptee mothers were more receptive and sensitive to their child?s behavior. Also, perhaps attachment is not a factor in determining whether infants will grow up to be well-adjusted children and eventually adults. A longitudinal study conducted on trans-racially adopted infants would perhaps help answer this question.Perhaps at 11 months of age, an infant hasn?t reached the point where he or she stops instinctually attaching.

In looking at the circumstances of an international adoption, one cannot discount the influence that both parents have on the child.A study comparing Israeli families who adopted domestically with those who adopted internationally found significant differences in parenting styles and family life (Levy-Schiff, Zoran, & Shulman, 1997).Overall, parents who internationally adopted generated more positive...

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