How adoptive parents cope with the transition to parenthood: A dyadic perspective.
The transition to adoptive parenthood represents a particularly stressful event, but little is known about psychological adjustment among parents involved in the process. Research that has specifically analyzed stress and well-being in adoptive couples during early adoptive parenthood reported inconsistent results. Even less is known about the differences between adoptive mothers and fathers in coping with the transition, and the effect of the transition on the couple as a unit, using dyadic perspective and dyadic data analyses: according to a relational approach, however, partners within the same couple are by nature interdependent.
The current longitudinal study was aimed at: a) investigating parental well-being during the first year post-adoption and trends over time; b) identifying protective factors associated to parental well-being, and c) measuring dyadic correlations between mothers’ and fathers’ scores (a measure of couple interdependence) and evaluating if they were stable or changed over time. Participants were 45 adoptive couples (90 subjects) who filled in two self-report questionnaires: the first one within two months after child’s arrival in the family, and the second one a year later. Measures included The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, The Parenting Stress Index Short Form, and The Partnership Questionnaire.
Results showed that both for mothers and fathers mean scores were far below the clinical threshold and stable over time. The quality of couple relationship turned out to be significantly related to parental well-being, and a mutual influence between the levels of well-being within the couple emerged. Implications for post-adoption support will be discussed.