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Confidence and Self-Esteem in Adopted Children

In a recent study from the American Psychological Association, a question was raised, “Do adopted children show lower self-esteem than non-adopted peers, and do transracial adoptees show lower self-esteem than same-race adoptees?” This blog post will provide a recap of the study and a brief discussion of its implications.

 

To start, we must investigate why this question was raised in the first place. Some speculate that adopted children are at risk for developing lower self-esteem than those who were not adopted. This could be linked to a number of factors: coping with adoptive status, potentially looking different than the adoptive family, feeling neglected or rejected from birth parents, feeling less integrated with the adoptive family, etc. These are all valid concerns, especially for those thinking about pursuing adoption.

 

Why a Child’s Self-Esteem Matters

A healthy self-esteem can truly serve as the foundation for a happy and fulfilling life. The way we as humans feel about ourselves translates into every aspect of our being: career, relationships, day-to-day functioning, etc. Kids who feel good about themselves are generally more capable of handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. In contrast, kids that develop low levels of self-esteem experience just the opposite. The many changes and challenges that life brings serve as major sources of anxiety and frustration.

 

Breakdown of the Study

The study focused on a meta analysis of 88 studies, totaling 10,977 adoptees and 33,862 non-adoptees. They took it a step further by analyzing different subgroups: international adoptees, domestic adoptees, transracial adoptees, male vs. female adoptees, adoptive placement before and after first birthday, and developmental stages (4-12 years and 18+ years). Needless to say, the study was incredibly thorough.

 

The Results?

 

The researchers found absolutely no difference in self-esteem between adoptees and non-adopted children. This was equally true for the international, domestic, and transracial adoptees.

 

Contrary to general assumptions, adopted children are just as capable of developing high levels of self-esteem as their non-adopted counterparts. The researchers speculate one potential reason for this outcome: adoptive families. Adoptive parents go to great lengths to have the potential to create a strong parent-child bond. They tend to be incredibly invested in their children and ready for parenthood.

 

At James Fletcher Thompson, we’ve worked with multiple adoptive families and have experienced this incredible bond firsthand. We firmly believe that in adoption, everybody wins. The adoptive couple receives the gift of a precious child; the child is placed in a loving family; and the birth mother is assured that the child she has brought into the world will have the kind of home that she could not provide.


Adoption is not the answer for every woman who is faced with an unplanned pregnancy, but we believe each one should be invited to consider adoption as a possibility. Ready to talk? Give us a call at (864) 573-5533.