Model Minority of a Different Kind? Academic Competence and Behavioral Health of Chinese Children Adopted Into White American Families

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Abstract

Asian American students’ favorable academic achievement has mainly and frequently been attributed to their family cultural values. Children who immigrated to the United States as infants or toddlers through international adoption and are subsequently growing up in White families are a unique group of American children of Chinese heritage. In this article, 4 studies were used to determine how the lack of exposure to Asian family cultural values might affect adopted Chinese children’s academic outcomes and behavioral health. Study 1 compared 180 adopted Chinese youth with 153 U.S.-born peers on self-reported school adjustment and behavioral health. Study 2 examined 224 adopted Chinese youth’s self-reported academic competence and global self-esteem. Study 3 reported teachers’ judgment on 71 adopted Chinese youth’s academic competence and parents’ ratings on the same 71 youth’s behavioral problems. Study 4 compared 40 mothers’ reports of behavioral problems in their biological children and adoptive Chinese children. All adopted children were girls, as the vast majority of children adopted from China are girls. Results from the 4 studies showed that despite lacking the Asian family cultural background, the adopted Chinese children had favorable academic and behavioral health status, which resembled what has been demonstrated by Asian American students.

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