Based on the study done on adolescents adopted as babies, adopted youth are twice as likely as their non-adopted peers to develop ADHD or oppositional defiant disorder.

Although most of the adopted children from the study were psychologically healthy and doing well, as a group they faced a greater risk of suffering from these two psychiatric conditions.

Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder prevents children from concentrating properly, sitting still and controlling their impulsive behavior while children with oppositional defiant disorder happen to be uncooperative and hostile toward authority figures in a way that seriously impairs their day-to-day functioning.

The study compared a random sample of 540 adolescents who were not adopted to a representative sample of adopted adolescents, 514 being foreign adoptions and 178 domestic, ages ranging from 11 to 21.

Psychiatric assessments have been performed on all subjects and their parents and teachers were also interviewed.

It’s been thought that adoptees who were born overseas could be facing greater risk of psychiatric disorders than those born and placed in the U.S. due to the ethnic discrimination, however the reverse was true.
The assessments only showed higher levels of general anxiety and separation anxiety among international adoptees.

Applications for financial assistance from the state of Illinois for children with serious mental health problems showed that requests from parents of adopted kids ran 10 to 20 times higher than for biological children. It seems that adoptive parents may be quicker to seek out such help because as a group they are better educated, have higher incomes and are more accepting of counseling.

The researchers stressed that this study should not alarm adoptive parents as it doesn’t necessarily mean all adopted children will develop psychiatric disorders.