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Research into long-term effects of children adopted from foreign orphanages published

Quality of the adoptive home is important contributor to adult well-being

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering has published new research into the long-term effects and outcomes for children adopted from orphanages and other institutions from abroad.

During the 1960s, just over a hundred girls were sent to the UK via the International Social Services UK Hong Kong Adoption Project and placed for adoption following publicity surrounding World Refugee Year. Today the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) has published a new research study funded by the Nuffield Foundation about the outcomes for these women.

"Adversity, Adoption and Afterwards: A mid-life follow-up study of women adopted from Hong Kong" by Julia Feast, Margaret Grant, Alan Rushton and John Simmonds reports how the 72 women who participated in the study have fared in life.

The women were mostly abandoned as infants and spent between 8 and 72 months in one of four orphanages in Hong Kong. Whilst they appear to have experienced a reasonable quality of physical and medical care and nutrition in comparison to the globally depriving environments reported in other adoption studies, they lacked the consistent one-to-one care and stimulation that infants typically need for their proper development.

There have been longstanding questions about how the extent to which early adversity in childhood, especially lack of individualised psycho-social care, creates problems developmentally and also how it effects the life choices people take in later life. This unique study gives a rare opportunity to explore the impact of adverse early experience, modified by adoption in creating both opportunities and risks through both child and adulthood over 50 years.

Key findings are:

The report is available for purchase from the BAAF online shop.