By Samantha Lee and Bao Moua
Over the past year, the International Adoption Project Registry has been working to expand its research to include not just children and adolescents, but also adults who were adopted in childhood. Through two similar surveys we have been seeking input from adults who were adopted as children and their adoptive parents. The goal of the surveys was to find out what is important and what kind of topics were of interest to individuals and their families who have experienced international adoption.
To date we have received about 260 responses from the parents and about 100 responses from the adult adoptees. While we continue to welcome more responses on both surveys, what we are seeing so far from the Parent Survey is that 69% reported they are very much interested in learning more about the mental health of adults who were internationally adopted as children (or the implications of international adoption on mental health).
Other popular topics amongst parents were relationships with the adoptive family (42% very much interested), experiences of adversity or abuse (40% very much interested), dating, romantic partners and marriages and searching (or not) for birth family, foster family or people from pre-adoption past (both 39% very much interested). Parents had an opportunity to write down what other topics were of interest to them. Recurring topics included experiences of transitioning from teens into adulthood, post-adoption services, counseling and mental health services for adult adoptees and their families, discussion about prejudice and race in a multi-racial family, and adult adoptee’s experiences of self-identity.
Mental health was also a high interest topic among the adult adoptees (57%). Other popular topics included relationships with friends (52% very much interested), relationships with adoptive family and being a parent and/or raising children (both 50% very much interested), and genetic testing and/or ancestry testing (49% very much interested). Participants also had a chance to write in other topic of interests to them. Recurring topics includes adoption among adoptees, self- identity development, integration of birth and adoptive cultures, and experiences of racism when you don’t look like your adoptive parents. Figure 7 shows the different topics parents and adoptees rated their interest on.
We are hoping to use the survey responses to guide us in conducting more extensive research on areas of interest and to also identify a pool of possible research participants. Many of the participants who took the Adult Adoptee Survey volunteered to join the IAP’s Adult Registry. In joining the IAP Adult Registry, members are allowing us to contact them in the future as research opportunities arise to provide knowledge of their experiences of international adoption.
To learn more about the IAP Adult Registry or register, visit our website.