Psychological adjustment in Spanish adult adoptees
As every stage of development, adulthood comprises important changes in people’s lives. According to Havighurst (1972), the period of adulthood involves the resolution of the subsequent tasks: becoming integrated in the working world, choosing a partner, learning how to live with a partner and to have one’s own family, bringing up children, being responsible for a home, assuming some civic responsibilities, and finding a stable social group. In turn, adulthood can be divided in different sub-periods, of which we are interested in young adulthood, which ranges from 18 to 40 or 45 years of age (Arnett et al., 2014). In this sub-period, people assume long-term commitments, specifically to romantic relationships and the labor market.
Previous research on psychological adjustment in adult adoptees is not really conclusive. Some studies found that adopted adults are more likely to have difficulties than their non-adopted peers (Cubito & Brandon, 2000; Levy-Shiff, 2001; Oke, Groza, Park, Kalyanvala, & Shetty, 2015). Other works suggested that psychological adjustment is similar in both groups, but in the adopted group, there are some cases of maladjustment (Loehlin, Horn, & Ernst, 2007).
The main purpose of this work is to analyze the psychological adjustment of a group of young adult domestic adoptees (n = 134) in Spain in comparison to the norms of the general Spanish population. The measure we used was the Symptom Check-List-90-Revised (SCL-90-R), developed by Derogatis (1975). In addition to the principle aim, the current study seeks to identify the influence of certain variables, such as age at adoption or gender, in mental health.
Our findings show that the young adults of our sample obtained significantly higher scores in the SCL-90-R than the general Spanish population, but lower scores than the clinical Spanish population. However, it is important to consider that, on the Global Severity Index (GSI), 65.7% of the adoptees were within the normal range, 24.6% were at risk, and only 9.7% were above the clinical threshold. There were no differences between males and females in any of the subscales of the SCL-90-R. Age at adoption did not have a significant effect on mental health.
This study could contribute to reducing stereotypes about the mental health and adjustment of adopted people. In addition, it shows that some of the adoptees have a real need for psychological support during adulthood; consequently, post-adoption services must be aware of their situation and be prepared to meet their needs.