Date of Award

1994

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Valerie Roche

Second Advisor

Dr Amanda Blackmore

Third Advisor

Dr Adelma Hills

Abstract

The study investigated the well-being of 283 four to sixteen-year-old intercountry adopted (ICA) children in general and in relation to two specific adoption variables. The sample represented 80% of the estimated 4-16 year old ICA population of Western Australia (W A). Well-being was defined in terms of competence, happiness, health and problem behaviours. The primary source of information was Achenbach's parent reported Child Behavior Check List (CBCL) as used by the Western Australian Child Health Survey (WACHS). Bowlby's attachment theory provided the theoretical framework for the prediction that adoption after the age of 6 months, and the experience of adversity prior to adoption, negatively affected later well-being. Adversity was based on parental reports of knowledge about the ICA child's experiences of neglect, abuse, and changes of care. A search of the archives of the ICA organisation Australia for Children Society identified most of the target population. The response rate of the mail survey was 86%. This provided data on 87% of the traced children. Parents completed one 16-item Family Questionnaire and a 4 part Child Questionnaire for each ICA child. The results of the study indicated that the majority of children were considered to be happy (88%), healthy (92%), competent (82%) in activities, social and school functioning, and with a level of problem behaviours within the normal range (86%). Girls were rated higher in well-being than boys, particularly in the area of competence. The well-being of the ICA children was of a similar level to that of their WACHS peers. ICA parents tended to rate their children's competence and progress more often very positive or negative than the WACHS parents. The prediction that adoption after the age of 6 months and adverse pre-adoption experiences would negatively affect later well-being, was only partially supported. Adversity was significantly related to age at adoption (1(282)=.42, p< .001). Adoption after the age of 6 months negatively affected school functioning (F{I,262)=8.62, p< .01, '1'=.03). In a small sub-sample (n=52) the experience of pre-adoption adversity resulted in a significantly higher level of problem behaviour (F{I,47)=6.567, p< .05, rl= .12). The strongest association for adversity was found between neglect and problem behaviours (r=.l3).

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