Dyadic adjustment and parenting stress in internationally adoptive mothers and fathers: The mediating role of adult attachment dimensions.


Previous research has shown that a positive marital functioning represents a resource in adoptive families, leading to a decrease in parenting stress, but little is known about the factors mediating such a relationship. This study aimed to explore whether adult attachment avoidance and anxiety mediate the effect of dyadic functioning on parenting stress in 90 internationally adoptive couples (mothers and fathers) who had adopted a child (aged 3-10 years) in the last 36 months. Participants completed self-report measures of dyadic adjustment, adult attachment, and parenting stress. A series of path analyses supported the mediation hypothesis, but differentially for mothers and fathers. Among mothers, there was a direct and negative relationship between dyadic adjustment and parenting stress. In addition, a better dyadic adjustment was related to lower levels of attachment anxiety, which in turn were associated with less parenting stress. Among fathers, increased dyadic adjustment was related to lower levels of attachment avoidance, which in turn were associated with reduced parenting stress. These findings suggest the importance of including both mothers and fathers in adoption research. Adoptive parents could benefit from specific interventions aimed at reducing attachment avoidance and anxiety by supporting parental sense of competence and involvement for mothers and fathers, respectively.