Abstract: The first year after adoption constitutes a sensitive period for both strengthening the new emotional bond in the family and checking its appropriate development by adoption services. A key variable for children’s catch-up are adoptive parents’ socioemotional and individual features. The aim of this study is to investigate links between adoptive mothers’ individual features and behavioral problems in their children in the first year after adoption placement, by testing the moderating role of both age at adoption and maternal genetic polymorphisms. Seventy-eight adoptive mothers completed temperament and genetic measures. Mothers showed a specific pattern of interaction between basic temperament traits and genetic markers in their assessment of children’s behavioral problems; dopamine D4 receptor gene and children’s age at adoption are two moderators in the association in which mothers’ temperament was affecting the evaluation of their children’s behavioral problems. Findings highlight a still undervalued area of parenting resources in the process of post-institutionalized children’s catch-up after adoption placement, by showing how individual features count in the commonly measured variable of children’s behavioral and emotional problems. This could help in orienting identification and choice of key variables for family assessment after adoption placement, thus contributing in fostering children’s healthy development.
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