Seventy-eight postinstitutionalized (PI) children adopted at ages 17–36 months were assessed 2, 8, 16, and 24 months postadoption on measures of cortisol and parenting quality, and compared to same-aged children adopted from foster care (FC, n = 45) and nonadopted children (NA, n = 45). In kindergarten (M age = 6.0 years), teachers, parents, and trained observers completed measures of peer relationships and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. PI children had more peer problems and ADHD symptoms according to teachers and observers than NA children with FC children in between, whereas both PI and FC children were at significantly greater risk of hypocortisolism (i.e., blunted cortisol diurnal rhythm and reactivity). Hypocortisolism and ADHD symptoms mediated the association between preadoption adversity and peer difficulties. Higher postadoption parenting quality was protective.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Clio E. Pitula and Carrie E. DePasquale contributed significantly to this article. Portions of the article served as the dissertation for Clio E. Pitula, whereas the addition of cortisol and the analyses that included this variable served as the 1st year project for Carrie E. DePasquale. Thank you to project staff for their assistance with the coordination of this project, and to the families who participated. This research was supported in part by P50MH078105. Preparation of this manuscript was facilitated by a doctoral fellowship to Clio E. Pitula from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.