Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 1858–1869 | Cite as

Adoptive versus Mixed Families: Child Adjustment, Parenting Stress and Family Environment

  • Marta Santos-NunesEmail author
  • Isabel Narciso
  • Salomé Vieira-Santos
  • Magda S. Roberto
Original Paper


Recent research in adoption has considered the factors and processes that underlie the adjustment of children and families. However, little research has been conducted on certain types of adoptive families, specifically on families with both adoptive and biological children often designated as mixed families. This subject is addressed by the present study which also analyzes the association between the type of adoptive family and children’s outcomes—prosocial and problem behavior—parenting stress and the relational family environment. It also examines whether children’s gender, age at adoption and the number of children in the home moderate these effects. 102 parents of adoptive children (ACF) 33 parents of both adoptive and biological children (ABCF) and 102 parents of biological children (BCF) participated in the study. Target-children were aged from 6 to 12 years. The Portuguese versions of the SDQ-P, PSI-SF and FES (Interpersonal Relationship dimension) were used. Results showed that the type of adoptive family—ACF and ABCF—significantly explained the variance of children’s behavioral problems and parenting stress. The child’s gender was shown to moderate the relationship between ACF parents and their perception of child’s prosocial behavior. The results give relevant clues as to the importance of distinct outcomes in adoptive families—ACF and ABCF—compared to families with only biological children and should, therefore, be a resource for professionals involved in the adopters’ suitability assessment and adoption intervention.


Adoption Children’s adjustment Family environment Parenting stress Type of adoptive family 



This study was supported by the Ph.D. grant of the first author SFRH/BD/88077/2012, financed by the Technology and Science Foundation (FCT).

Author Contributions

Conceptualization: M.S.-N., I.N., S.V.-S. Methodology: M.S.-N., I.N., S.V.-S., M.S.R. Supervision: M.S.-N., I.N., S.V.-S., M.S.R. Writing—Original Draft Preparation: M.S.-N. Writing—Review and Editing: M.S.-N., I.N., S.V.-S., M.S.R.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in the studies involving human participants were conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the research committee of the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Lisbon and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all the participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CICPSI, Faculdade de Psicologia, Universidade de LisboaAlameda da UniversidadeLisboaPortugal

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