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Q: Research on Child Abuse of Adopted Children ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Research on Child Abuse of Adopted Children
Category: Science > Social Sciences
Asked by: benfranklin-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 25 Jul 2003 08:10 PDT
Expires: 24 Aug 2003 08:10 PDT
Question ID: 234997
I need research on child abuse of an adopted child at the hands of the
mother in cases where the family consists of both biological and
adopted children.  Is there any more likely that a child adopted into
a family with existing biological (to the parents) siblings is more
likely to suffer abuse from the mother?  If so, what are the
characteristics or warning signs of such a situation?
Subject: Re: Research on Child Abuse of Adopted Children
Answered By: slawek-ga on 25 Jul 2003 15:03 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Good Day benfranklin,


The numbers in brackets after quotations belong with the source
numbers listed towards the bottom of my answer.  All links include
additional information that is very detailed and significant.  Due to
copyright restrictions I can only excerpt small parts from my sources.
 The rest of the information can be freely viewed by visiting the
author’s web site at the provided web address.


The level of abuse suffered by adopted vs. biological children is
disproportionate.  Adopted children are more likely to suffer abuse
for a number of reasons.  The studies and information stating this
information do not separate the incidents into father/mother child
abuse; it is safe to conclude that both parents are more likely to
abuse an adopted child.

"Adopted children lose both parents early in life, even though this
loss is not acknowledged by their adoptive parents and their
community. Being adopted by substitute parents, no matter how good
they are as parents, does not negate this loss." (1)  This is often
referred to as the “Primal Wound”.

The adoption of a child often can lead to a feeling of increased
control over the child's future development and accomplishments. This
unrealistic feeling leads to the belief that the child will be
"perfect". Expectations are high both of the child, and oneself: the
parent. Combined with the "absence of kinship" the situation is at
increased risk to involve some type of abuse.

The decreased level of kinship can be found in children adopted at any
age. Although it is more obvious when a child is adopted at an older
age, even a child adopted at a few weeks old can suffer from this
symptom. The early days of infancy are never remembered but can affect
how the child bonds with other human beings later in life.  Not having
someone hug, caress, and kiss the child in these very early days can
decrease the child’s chances of positive bonding with other human
beings further in life.

If a child is abused, different signs will manifest depending on the
type of abuse suffered and the age of the child.  The three types of
abuse are physical, mental, and sexual.  All three types of abuse have
a lot of common signs, and can be separated into two groups: physical
signs and behavioural signs.

- Physical abuse signs can range from chronic bruising and welts to
rope burns and infected wounds (sign of delayed or absent treatment of
injuries). Behavioural signs often associated with physical abuse
range from "extreme withdrawal, aggression, regression, and
depression", to "unusual shyness and wariness of physical contact".

- Mental abuse signs range from "eating disorders, including obesity
or anorexia" to "speech disorders (stuttering, stammering)" and "flat
or bald spots on head (infants)". (2)

- A whole wealth of information is available on sexual abuse.  Signs
include "Genital or urinary irritation, injury or infection,
over-sensitivity to sounds or movement, depression or "numb" emotions,
mistrust of adults in general" (3) , and more.


1. Origins.Inc (
Data gathered includes references and sources.  Most interesting in
this case is the reference to a book by Mirah Riben, “Shedding Light
On… The Dark Side of Adoption” ISBN 0966206002
The book is reviewed by some of the field’s experts, and their
comments are available at

2. Lorain County Children Services

3. Sexual Abuse Training Outlet


Site: Youth Suicides - A comparison


My goal was to provide more sources and back-up information.  However
all I could find is someone else having tried and failed to do the
same.  As you probably already experienced yourself, it is difficult
to find information on this subject.  I hope that the information I
did find answers your questions with satisfaction.  If not, I would be
happy to further assist you with any specifics, and attempt to find
more details.

Speaking from experience, my sister and her husband are adoptive
parents of a two-year-old girl.  They had her since a couple of weeks
after birth, and through them I have heard about some gruesome tales. 
Like the references I quote, it does appear that much of the world
thinks of children as commodities.  The children are being often
treated like puppies from a dog pound.  Indeed it seems that the
system could use an overhaul.

Search Strategy: 

Google Search for "adopted"+"biological"+"children"+"abuse"+"comparison"
Google Search for "signs"+"abuse"+"adoptive"
Google Search for “abuse rates”+”biological”+”adoptive”
Google Search for “primal wound”


Request for Answer Clarification by benfranklin-ga on 25 Jul 2003 16:35 PDT
Thanks for the research.  What I need is data, i.e., results of
studies done on the subject with factual findings, not anecdotal
articles.  If you could provide some research with hard data that is
the result of research studies it would be greatly appreciated.


Clarification of Answer by slawek-ga on 25 Jul 2003 22:47 PDT
Good Day benfranklin,

Here is some additional information I was able to find in scientific


Excerpt: "Approximately 2000 children die annually in the United
States from maltreatment. Although maternal and child risk factors for
child abuse have been identified, the role of household composition
has not been well-established."

Excerpt: "Children residing in households with adults unrelated to
them were 8 times more likely to die of maltreatment than children in
households with 2 biological parents (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 8.8;
95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.6-21.5). Risk of maltreatment death
also was elevated for children residing with step, foster, or adoptive
parents (aOR: 4.7; 95% CI: 1.6-12.0), and in households with other
adult relatives present (aOR: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.1-4.5).

Source: Pediatrics; Apr2002, Vol. 109 Issue 4, p615, 7p, 1bw


Excerpt: "Using data from the sexual abuse (cases) drawn from the
state of Iowa, no biologically related caretakers are found to be
substantially over represented in the volume of sexual abuse which was
reported, and biologically related caretakers are underrepresented."

Summary: Of the 2662 cases of sexual abuse, 181 (6.8%) were attributed
to a biological female parent.  Only 4 cases (0.1%) of the 2662 cases
are attributed to a female adoptive parent.

Source: Child Sexual Abuse by Caretakers
Lesle Margolin; John L. Craft
Family Relations, Volume 38, Issue 4 (Oct. 1989) 450-455.

Having read through a whole bundle of information, I have found no
reference to an increased or decreased likelihood of abuse towards
adoptive children when biological children are present.  This does not
appear to be a factor.

As always, please do request a clarification regarding any part
(present or missing) of my answer.  I will be all of Saturday, but
expect to be doing some work on Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

benfranklin-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars

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