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 (...

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... passport and inability to speak their birth language. Their development is often accompanied by feelings of anger, frustration, and confusion, which they are confronted with in college, and subsequently address. The literature reviewed in this paper examines factors of attachment, the pre-adoption situation, parenting styles, normal development in middle childhood, the development of ethnic identity, place, and the search for birth origins, in the ways that they impact the adoptees? identity development. Further research could examine the influence of a sibling cohort adopted from the same country as the adoptee, long-term effects of an orphanage stay into adolescence and adulthood [using the People?s Republic as an example], and mono-zygotic, trans-racial twin pairs reared apart, in an effort to control the factors that contribute to a negative sense of identity.

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