The British Journal of Psychiatry
Adoptive Families Referred for Psychiatric Advice: I.—The Children
I.—The Children
MICHAEL HUMPHREY, CHRISTOPHER OUNSTED

Abstract

1. Findings have been presented on a consecutive series of 80 adopted children referred for psychiatric advice.

2. Only children accounted for a third of the sample, and less than half the remainder shared their adoptive status with another member of the family.

3. The proportion of adopted children in our hospital population (2.9 per cent.) is more than double the estimated frequency of adopted children in the general population. The rate of psychiatric referral increased with the approach and onset of puberty.

4. Inherent mental defect and severe mental illness were rare in the present sample.

5. Children brought up in professional class homes tended to be above average in their intellectual development, especially when placed in the first six months of life. Those brought up in working class homes fared less well irrespective of age at placement, but their overall level was only just short of average.

6. Adopted children were not found to differ from others in their symptoms except where they were placed after the age of six months, in which case they were more apt to steal and to destroy property.

7. Other factors besides early parental deprivation were invoked to account for these differences between children adopted before and after six months.