Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Early adversity predicts adoptees’ enduring emotional and behavioral problems in childhood

Paine, Amy L., Fahey, Kevin, Anthony, Rebecca E. and Shelton, Katherine H. 2021. Early adversity predicts adoptees’ enduring emotional and behavioral problems in childhood. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 30 , pp. 721-732. 10.1007/s00787-020-01553-0

[thumbnail of Paine. Early]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (779kB) | Preview


Children adopted from the public care system are likely to experience a cluster of inter-related risk factors that place them on a trajectory of mental health problems that persist across the life course. However, the specific effects of putative risk factors on children’s mental health post-placement are not well understood. We conducted a prospective, longitudinal study of children placed for adoption between 2014 and 2015 (N = 96). Adoptive parents completed questionnaires at approximately 5-, 21-, 36-, and 48 months post-placement. We used time series analysis to examine the impact of pre-adoptive risk factors (adverse childhood experiences [ACEs], number of moves, days with birth parents and in care) on children’s internalizing and externalizing problems, and prosocial behaviour over four years post-placement. Adoptees’ internalizing and externalizing problems remained consistently high over the four-year study period but more ACEs predicted increases in internalizing and externalizing problems. Contrary to expectations, more pre-placement moves and time in care predicted fewer problems over time, but exploratory analyses of interactive effects revealed this was only the case in rare circumstances. We identify pre- and post-removal factors that may incur benefits or have a deleterious impact on adoptees’ outcomes in post-adoptive family life. Our findings provide knowledge for front-line professionals in the support of adoptive families and underscore the vital need for effective early intervention.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 1018-8827
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 May 2020
Date of Acceptance: 1 May 2020
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2022 21:53

Citation Data

Cited 5 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics