Parents' hope, optimism, and positive illusions and the resilience of their children *adopted from Russia

Patricia Ryan Roger, Fordham University


Since 1990, over 50,000 children have been adopted from Eastern European orphanages. The research indicates that the majority of these children, despite early exposure to sub-optimal conditions for healthy growth and development, thrive once placed in families. Yet, very little is known about characteristics of the post-adoption environment that ameliorate risk factors and foster resilience. This study, based on positive psychological models of functioning, was intended to assess possible relations between adoptive parents' levels of hope, optimism, and positive illusions, factors that have been shown to influence both mental and physical health, and their children's resilience. The sample was composed of 79 parents who had adopted children from Russian orphanages. Their children had spent between 1 and 3 years in an orphanage, and had been living with their adoptive families for a time equal to or greater than the time spent in an institution. Parents completed the Hope Scale, the Life Orientation Test---Revised, a brief measure of positive illusions and realistic acceptance, and reported on their children's current functioning. The positive illusions/realistic acceptance instrument did not have acceptable internal reliability and was not used in the main analyses. Parent participants evidenced levels of hope, optimism, and realistic acceptance higher than those previously reported in other studies. No significant correlations were found between parents' levels of hope, optimism, or realistic acceptance and the severity of their child's disability, operationalized as hours of therapy received weekly. The children's range of functioning corresponded to that of the general population on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (M = 101.87, SD = 16.29). This demonstration of competence offered additional evidence for the population's resilience. Multiple regression analysis found that parental hope was not a significant predictor of adaptive functioning. However, parental optimism accounted for a modest but significant amount of the variance in children's adaptive functioning over and above that accounted for by severity of disability. Contrary to previous studies, neither age at adoption nor length of time in an institution was a significant predictor of post-adoption adaptive functioning. Implications for positive psychological theory and practice and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Roger, Patricia Ryan, "Parents' hope, optimism, and positive illusions and the resilience of their children *adopted from Russia" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3208582.