Mental health outcomes in adopted children - a longitudinal register-based study

Adoption can be viewed as an intervention for children with a difficult start
in life, with a goal of improving their potential for positive development. Prior studies report major improvements in children's early development following adoption, however, adoptees are considered to be at risk for developing mental disorders. They also show poorer school performances than their non-adopted peers, though their cognitive competence is similar. We suggest that mental health problems can be one of the factors underlying these differences. There is little information available on mental distress among adoptees, and the possible relationships between mental distress, resilience and educational outcomes. The aim of this project is to examine these relationships, and how they develop over time.
This project has the advantage of identifying adoptees by utilizing the Norwegian Central Adoption Registry, ensuring that adoptees are correctly identified, which has traditionally been a challenge in adoption research.
The adoption registry will be linked to several large population-based health surveys. Four of the papers will be based on data from the longitudinal Bergen Child Study (BCS). The first waves of BCS include about 7000 participants, while the fourth wave (also called ung@hordaland) include
10 200 participants. Data from BCS will also be linked to official data on school absence and grade point averages provided by Hordaland County. Two papers will be based on data from the two most recent waves of the Nord-Trøndelag Health Studies, whereas one paper will link the adoption registry to CONOR, which is a collection of ten population-based health surveys including about 185 000 participants.
Findings from this project could help improve educational and health related services given to adoptees and adoptive parents, and form the basis for preventive interventions aimed at helping adopted children.