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05-01-2021 | Original Paper

An Exploratory Study of the Impact of Adoption on Adoptive Siblings

Journal of Child and Family Studies
Jana L. Hunsley, Naomi V. Ekas, Rachel D. Crawley
Belangrijke opmerkingen
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


There is extensive literature on the effects of early-life trauma in children who are adopted, but limited research on the effects this early-life trauma may have on the other members of the adoptive family system. This qualitative study explored the experience of adoptive siblings, defined as biological children in families who adopt children, and the impact adoption has had on them. A sample of 182 adult adoptive siblings, aged 18–64 years, were surveyed retrospectively about their experience in their families from pre-adoption to post-adoption. Through phenomenological qualitative analysis, responses were categorized based on pre-adoption, the initial adoption transition, and post-adoption. Results of this study indicated that adoptive siblings often felt invisible or resentful. Many adoptive siblings experienced parentification or took on the role of peacemaker in their families. The results also revealed that the impact of adoption for adoptive siblings can lead to personal growth, including empathy, compassion, and maturity, or mental health issues, including an inability to trust others, a jaded worldview, and posttraumatic symptoms. Further, many adoptive siblings decided to foster or adopt as adults or enter the child welfare profession. These results suggest that adoptive siblings are impacted by the experience of adoption in their families, and further, this may lead to long-term effects on their lives. Further research is needed to better understand what factors may be related to more positive or negative experiences with adoption, which could allow for a greater understanding of how to support this population from pre- to post-adoption.

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