Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Tony X. Tan, Ed.D.

Co-Major Professor

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert F. Dedrick, Ph.D.


academic competence, family environment, internalizing behaviors, international adoption, self-esteem


Despite research that indicates that internationally adopted children are at greater risk for poor developmental outcomes than their non-adopted peers (Bimmel, Juffer, IJzendoorn, Bakermans-Kranenburg, 2003; Juffer, & van IJzendoorn, 2005), girls adopted from China into Western culture tend to thrive, exhibiting high self-esteem, low behavior problems (i.e., both externalizing and internalizing), and excelling academically (Rojewski, Shapiro, & Shapiro, 2000; Tan & Jordan-Arthur, 2012). However, few studies have examined whether this trend continues into adolescence, as well as to what factors lead to these positive outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate predictors of mental health outcomes among internationally adopted adolescent Chinese girls, particularly factors that predicted levels of internalizing pathology (e.g., depression and anxiety) in adolescence. To fulfill this purpose, a secondary data analysis (N = 167) of information collected as part of a longitudinal study of U.S. international adoptions of Chinese children (2005-present) was completed using a hierarchical regression approach. Overall, these variables (e.g., age at adoption, pre-adoption adversity, family stress, parenting style, adolescent self-esteem, and academic competence) predicted 35% of the variance in internalizing behavior outcomes. The positive adjustment that has been seen in childhood continued to adolescence in this study, with 88% of the adolescent girls reporting Total Internalizing T-scores of less than 60 (i.e., in the normal range) on the Youth Self-Report form on the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001b). Authoritative parenting style and self-esteem showed the strongest relations to internalizing behaviors. Implications of the study for practice and discussion of future research based on these findings are explored.