Chapter 1. Pre-adoption stress, adversity and later development in IA children

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In this chapter, we first review the research on internationally adopted (IA) children’s experiences with birth families. Then we focus on literature related to institutional care and its impact on young children’s development, as well as the impact of pre-adoption adversity on IA children’s post-adoption development. We aim to highlight the challenges facing adoption research in linking pre-adoption adversities with post-adoption outcomes. We emphasize that the challenges are mainly due to two methodological barriers: challenges in prospectively identifying and studying children who will be abandoned, institutionalized, and later adopted, and the lack of standardized post-adoption measures that can be used among IA children from different countries. Notwithstanding such limitations, findings point to the links between prolonged and severe pre-adoption deprivation and neurobiological impairments, post-adoption cognitive delays, attention problems, and learning disabilities. Finally, we emphasize that despite pre-adoption adversity, IA children demonstrate considerable resilience in recovery and developmental catch-up.


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