Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Emotional difficulties in early adolescence following severe early deprivation: Findings from the English and Romanian adoptees study


The study assessed conduct and emotional difficulties in a group of Romanian adoptees at age 11, and serves as a follow-up to assessments made when the children were 6 years old. It was found that there was a significant increase in emotional difficulties, but not conduct problems, for the Romanian sample since age 6. It was also found that emotional difficulty was significantly more prevalent at age 11 in the Romanian group than in a within-UK adoptee group. Emotional difficulties in the Romanian adoptee group were found to be significantly and strongly related to previous deprivation-specific problems (disinhibited attachment, cognitive impairment, inattention/overactivity and quasi-autism); however, the presence of such early problems did not account fully for the onset of later emotional problems. Five contrasting hypotheses concerning possible mediators for later onset of emotional difficulties for the Romanian group were examined. No links were found to duration of deprivation or other deprivation-related indices, stresses/difficulties in the postadoption family environment, or educational attainment and self-esteem. There was some evidence that emotion recognition might play a role in the emergence of these problems, but other measures of social competence and theory of mind showed no associations with the onset of emotional problems.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Emma Colvert, P.O. 80, SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, University of London, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK; E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

C. Beckett , B. Maughan , J. Castle , E. Colvert , C. Groothues , J. Kreppner , (2006). Do the effects of early severe deprivation on cognition persist into early adolescence? Findings from the English and Romanian adoptees study. Child Development, 77, 696711.

L. B. Behar (1977). The pre-school behaviour questionnaire. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 5, 265275.

M. Bohman , & S. Sigvardsson (1980). A prospective, longitudinal study of children registered for adoption. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 61, 339355.

R. Buckler (1990). A longitudinal study of adolescent growth. London: Springer–Verlag.

R. Casey , S. E. Levy , K. Brown , & J. Brooks-Gunn (1992). Impaired emotional health in children with mild reading disability. Journal of Development and Behavioral Paediatrics, 13, 256260.

J. Castle , M. Rutter , C. Beckett , E. Colvert , C. Groothues , A. Hawkins , (2006). Service use by families with children adopted from Romania. Journal of Children's Services, 1, 515.

K. A. Dodge , & C. L. Frame (1982). Social cognition and children's aggressive behavior. Child Development, 51, 162170.

K. A. Dodge , J. E. Lansford , V. S. Burks , J. E. Bates , G. S. Pettit , R. Fontaine , (2003). Peer rejection and social information-processing factors in the development of aggressive behaviour problems in children. Child Development, 74, 374393.

J. Elander , & M. Rutter (1996). Use and development of the Rutter parents’ and teachers’ scales. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 6, 6378.

D. P. Farrington , & R. Loeber (2000). Some benefits of dichotomization in psychiatric and criminological research. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 10, 100122.

R. Goodman (1997). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 581586.

F. G. E. Happé (1994). An advanced test of theory of mind: Understanding of story characters’ thoughts and feelings by able autistic, mentally handicapped, and normal children and adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 129154.

F. Happé , & U. Frith (1996). Theory of mind and social impairment in children with conduct disorder. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 14, 385398.

J. M. Kreppner , M. Rutter , C. Beckett , J. Castle , E. Colvert , C. Groothues , (2007). What predicts normality and impairment following profound early institutional deprivation? A longitudinal examination through childhood. Developmental Psychology, 43, 931946.

A. Le Couteur , M. Rutter , C. Lord , P. Rios , S. Robertson , M. Holdgrafter , (1989). Autism Diagnostic Interview: A standardized investigator-based instrument. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19, 363387.

C. Lord , M. Rutter , & A. Le Couteur (1994). Autism Diagnostic Interview—Revised: A revision of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 659685.

H. Mainemer , L. C. Gilman , & E. W. Ames (1998). Parenting stress in families adopting children from Romanian orphanages. Journal of Family Issues, 19, 164180.

S. Nowicki , & J. Carton (1993). The measurement of emotional intensity from facial expressions. Journal of Social Psychology, 133, 749750.

T. O'Connor , M. Rutter , & the English and Romanian Adoptees Study Team. (2001). Attachment disorder behavior following early severe deprivation: Extension and longitudinal follow-up. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 703712.

J. Puig-Antich , J. Kaufman , N. D. Ryan , D. E. Williamson , R. E. Dahl , E. Lukens , (1993). The psychosocial functioning and family environment of depressed adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 32, 244253.

B. Rodgers , A. Pickles , C. Power , S. Collishaw , & B. Maughan (1999). Validity of the malaise inventory in general population samples. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 34, 333341.

M. Rutter , L. Anderson-Wood , C. Beckett , D. Berdenkamp , J. Castle , C. Groothues , (1999). Quasi-autistic patterns following severe early global privation. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 537549.

M. Rutter , E. Colvert , J. Kreppner , C. Beckett , J. Castle , C. Groothues , (2007). Early adolescent outcomes for institutionally-deprived and non-deprived adoptees: I. Disinhibited attachment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 1730.

M. L. Rutter , J. M. Kreppner , T. G. O'Connor , & the English and Romanian adoptees study team. (2001). Specificity and heterogeneity in children's responses to profound institutional privation. British Journal of Psychiatry, 179, 97103.

G. B. Spanier (1976). Measuring dyadic adjustment: New scales for assessing the quality of marriage and similar dyads. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 38, 1528.

M. H. Van Ijzendoorn , & F. Juffer (2006). Emanuel Miller Lecture, 2006. Adoption as intervention: Mata-analytic evidence for massive catch-up and plasticity in physical, socio-emotional and cognitive development. Journal of Child Psycyhology and Psychiatry, 47, 12281245.

F. C. Verhulst , M. Althaus , & H. J. M. Versluis-Den Bieman (1990a). Problem behavior in international adoptees: I. An epidemiological study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 29, 94–03.

F. C. Verhulst , & H. J. M. Versluis-Den Bieman (1995). Developmental course of problem behaviors in adolescent adoptees. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 151159.

E. G. Willcutt , & B. F. Pennington (2000). Psychiatric comorbidity in children and adolescents with reading disability. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41, 10391048.

L. J. Woodward , & D. M. Fergusson (2001). Life course outcomes of young people with anxiety disorders in adolescence. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 10861093.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 87 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 384 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.