About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Child Abuse of Non-Biological Child the Cinderella Effect & Complex


The Cinderella Effect and Complex
Supporting Abuse of Non-Biological Offspring

The Cinderella complex was first described by Colette Dowling, who wrote a book on women's fear of independence, as an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others. The complex is said to become more apparent as a person grows older.
Dowling attempts to define women as being motivated by an unconscious desire to be taken care of as a fear of independence termed "Cinderella complex". An important aspect of the work can be defined as identifying an aspect of a larger phenomenon as to why women choose to stay in dysfunctional relationships.
This phenomenon can be defined as a syndrome characterized by a series of specific motivations or causes. Dowling identifies only one motivation, while the syndrome is in fact is a combination of many motivations, which are in themselves characteristics that make up a complex.
The term syndrome has been largely used to define conditions apparent in medicine. However, in recent decades the term has been used outside of medicine to refer to a combination of phenomena seen in association.


The Cinderella Effect

In evolutionary psychology, the Cinderella effect is the alleged higher incidence of different forms of child-abuse and mistreatment by step and adoptive parents than by biological parents. It takes its name from the fairy tale character Cinderella Evolutionary psychologists describe the effect as a remnant of an adaptive reproductive strategy among primates where males frequently kill the offspring of other males in order to bring their mothers into estrus, and give the male a chance to fertilize her himself. There is both supporting evidence for this theory and criticisms against it.


In the early 1970s, a theory arose on the connection between step and adoptive parents and child maltreatment "In 1973, forensic psychiatrist P. D. Scott summarized information on a sample of "fatal battered-baby cases" perpetrated in anger (…) 15 of the 29 killers – 52% – were step and adoptive fathers. Although initially there was no analysis of this raw data, empirical evidence has since been collected on what is now called the Cinderella effect through official records, reports, and census.
For over 30 years, data has been collected regarding the validity of the Cinderella effect, with a wealth of evidence indicating a direct relationship between non-biological relationships and abuse. This evidence of child abuse and homicide comes from a variety of sources including official reports of child abuse, clinical data, victim reports, and official homicide data. Studies have concluded that "non-biological children in Canada, Great Britain and the United States indeed incur greatly elevated risk of child maltreatment of various sorts, especially lethal beatings". Studies have found that not biologically related parents are up to a hundred times more likely to kill a child than biological parents.
Powerful evidence in support of the Cinderella effect comes from the finding that when abusive parents have both step, adopted and genetic children, they generally spare their genetic children. In such families, non-biological children were exclusively targeted 9 out of 10 times in one study and in 19 of 22 in another. In addition to displaying higher rates of negative behaviors (e.g., abuse) toward non-biological children, step and adoptive parents display fewer positive behaviors toward non-biological children than do the genetic parents. For example, on average, stepparents invest less in education, play with stepchildren less, take stepchildren to the doctor less, etc. This discrimination against non-biological children is unusual compared to abuse statistics involving the overall population given "the following additional facts: (1) when child abuse is detected, it is often found that all the children in the home have been victimized; and (2) non-biological children are almost always the eldest children in the home, whereas the general (…) tendency in families of uniform parentage is for the youngest to be most frequent victims.

Evolutionary psychology theory

Evolutionary Psychologists Martin Daily and Margo Wilson propose that the Cinderella effect is a direct consequence of the modern evolutionary theory theory of Inclusive fitness, especially parental investment theory. They argue that human child rearing is so prolonged and costly that "a parental psychology shaped by natural selection is unlikely to be indiscriminate". According to them, "research concerning animal social behavior provide a rationale for expecting parents to be discriminative in their care and affection, and more specifically, to discriminate in favor of their own young".

Daly and Wilson research

The most abundant data on stepchild mistreatment has been collected and interpreted by psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, who study with an emphasis in Neuroscience and Behavior at Mc Master University. Their first measure of the validity of the Cinderella effect was based on data from the American Humane Association (AHA), an archive of child abuse reports in the United States holding over twenty thousand reports. These records led Wilson and Daly to conclude that "a child under three years of age who lived with one genetic parent and one non-biological parent in the United States in 1976 was about seven times more likely to become a validated child-abuse case in the records than one who dwelt with two genetic parents". Their overall findings demonstrate that children residing with non-biological parents have a higher risk of abuse even when other factors are considered.


All organisms face trade-offs as to how to invest their time, energy, risk, and other resources, so investment in one domain (e.g., parental investment) generally takes away from their ability to invest in other domains (e.g. mating effort, growth, or investment in other offspring).
Investment in non-genetic children therefore reduces an individual's ability to invest in itself or its genetic children, without directly bringing reproductive benefits. Thus, from an evolutionary biology perspective, one would not expect organisms to regularly and deliberately care for unrelated offspring.
Daly and Wilson point out that infantcide is an extreme form of biasing parental investment that is widely practiced in the animal world. For example, when an immigrant male lion enters a pride, it is not uncommon for him to kill the cubs fathered by other males. Since the pride can only provide support for a limited number of cubs to survive to adulthood, the killing of the cubs in competition with the new male’s potential offspring increases the chances of his progeny surviving to maturity. In addition, the act of infanticide speeds the return to sexual receptivity in the females, allowing for the male to father his own offspring in a timelier manner. These observations indicate that in the animal world, males employ certain measures in order to ensure that parental investment is geared specifically toward their own offspring.
Unlike the lion, however, humans in a non-biological parenting situation face a more complicated tradeoff since they cannot completely disown their partner’s offspring from a previous relationship, as they would risk losing sexual access to their partner and any chance of producing potential offspring. Thus, according to Daly and Wilson, non-biological parental investment can be viewed as mating effort to ensure the possibility of future reproduction with the parent of their non-biological child. This mating effort hypothesis suggests that humans will tend to invest more in their genetic offspring and invest just enough in their stepchildren. It is from this theoretical framework that Daly and Wilson argue that instances of child abuse towards non-biological offspring should be more frequent than towards biological offspring.
One would therefore expect greater parental responsiveness towards one's own offspring than towards unrelated children, and this will result in more positive outcomes and fewer negative outcomes towards one's own children than towards other children in which one is expected to invest (i.e., stepchildren). "If child abuse is a behavioral response influenced by natural selection, then it is more likely to occur when there are reduced inclusive fitness payoffs owing to uncertain or low relatedness". Owing to these adaptations from natural selection, child abuse is more likely to be committed by step and adoptive parents than genetic parents—both are expected to invest heavily in the children, but genetic parents will have greater child-specific parental love that promotes positive caretaking and inhibits maltreatment.
Daly and Wilson report that this parental love can explain why genetic offspring are more immune to lashing out by parents.  They assert that, "Child-specific parental love is the emotional mechanism that permits people to tolerate –even to rejoice in – those long years of expensive, unreciprocated parental investment". They point to a study comparing natural father and step and adoptive father families as support for the notion that non-biological parents do not view their non-biological the same as their biological children, and likewise, children do not view their step or adoptive parents the same as their biological parents. This study, based on a series of questionnaires which were then subjected to statistical analyses, reports that children are less likely to go to their step or adoptive fathers for guidance and that step and adoptive fathers rate their non-biological children less positively than do natural fathers.
Daly and Wilson’s reports on the overrepresentation of stepparents and adoptive parents in child homocide and abuse statistics support the evolutionary principle of maximizing one’s inclusive fitness, formalized under Hamilton's Rule, which helps to explain why humans will preferentially invest in close kin. Adoption statistics also substantiate this principle, in that non-kin adoptions represent a minority of worldwide adoptions. Research into the high adoption rates of Oceana shows that childlessness is the most common reason for adopting, and that in the eleven populations for which data was available, a large majority of adoptions involved a relative with a coefficient of relatedness, greater than or equal to 0.125 (e.g., genetic cousins). It is also observed that parents with both biological and adopted children bias the partitioning of their estates in favor of the biological children, demonstrating again that parental behavior corresponds to the principles of kin selection.


In their 1985 Canadian sample, Daly and Wilson classify the frequencies of different living arrangements (two natural parents, one natural parent, one natural parent with one stepparent, or adoptive parent) according to child age. This was accomplished by administering a randomized telephone survey.
Records of child abuse from children’s aid organizations as well as police reports on runaways and juvenile offenders were then used to determine whether children from non-biological parental living situations were overrepresented as abuse victims when compared to the demographic data gathered from the telephone survey data. The results indicate that the only living situation that has a significant correlation to increased child abuse is one natural parent and one non-biological parent in the same household. While rates of running away and crime were comparable for children living with non-biological parents and children of single-parents, abuse rates for children living with non-biological parents were much higher.
Daly and Wilson examined several potentially confounding variables in their research, including socioeconomic status, family size, and maternal age at childbirth, however only minor differences between natural-parent and non-biological families with respect to these factors were found, indicating that none of these are major contributing factors to the observed Cinderella effect.

Attachment theory

Evolutionary psychologists have also suggested that one of the causes of adopted and stepchild abuse may be the lack of a parental attachment bond that the mother would normally form with her own child. This attachment bond must be formed before the age of two in order to become a secure bond, and adoption can often disrupt the development of this bond. An infant must be fed by the primary parental figure, usually the mother, and must have the mother present during severely physically painful events in order for a parental attachment bond to form, and either a consistent omission of the mother from this process or an alteration between two people (the original mother and the adoptive mother) can cause either an insecure attachment or disorganized attachment from the parent to the child. As a result, it is highly recommended by most psychologists that the adoptive mother be present very early in the infants life, preferably immediately after its birth, in order to avoid attachment disruptions and attachment disorders, but is not a guarantee.


It is sometimes argued that this evolutionary psychological account does not explain why the majority of stepparents do not abuse their partners' children, or why a significant minority of genetic parents do abuse their own offspring. However, their argument is based on a misunderstanding: the evolutionary psychological account is that (all else equal) parents will love their own children more than other people's children – it does not argue that stepparents will "want" to abuse their partner's children, or that genetic parenthood is absolute proof against abuse. Under this account, step and adoptive parental care is seen as "mating effort" towards the genetic parent, such that most interactions between non-genetic parent and non-genetic children will be generally positive or at least neutral, just usually not as positive as interactions between the genetic parent and the child would be.

Supportive evidence

Strong support for the Cinderella effect as described by Daly and Wilson comes from a study of unintentional childhood fatal injuries in Australlia. Tooley et al. follow the argument of Daly and Wilson to extend the Cinderella effect from cases of abuse to incidences of unintentional fat Children are not only vulnerable to abuse by their parents, but they are also dependent on their parents for supervision and protection from a variety of other harms. Given that parental supervision is fundamentally correlated to incidences of unintentional childhood injury as shown by Wadsworth et al. and Peterson & Stern, Tooley et al. posit that selective pressures would favor an inclination towards parental vigilance against threats to offspring well-being. Tooley et al. further argue that parental vigilance is not as highly engaged in adoptive and stepparents as genetic parents, therefore placing step and adopted children at greater risk for unintentional injury.
Based on data gathered from the Australia National Coroners’ Information System, step and adopted children under five years of age are two to fifteen times more likely to experience an unintentional fatal injury, especially drowning, than genetic children. Additionally, the study finds that the risks of unintentional fatal injury are not significantly higher for genetic children in single parent homes versus two-parent homes. This difference suggests that removing one biological parent from the home does not significantly increase risk to the children, but that adding a nonbiological parent to the home results in a drastic increase in the risk of unintentional fatal injury. Despite the fact that adding a step or adoptive parent to the home increases the available resources in terms of supervision in comparison to a single-parent home, risk of unintentional fatal injury still significantly rises. This higher risk of injury for adopted and stepchildren can be attributed to the fact that step and adoptive parents occupy the same supervisory role as a genetic parent, yet they have a lower intrinsic commitment to protecting the child and therefore are less likely to be adequately vigilant. The authors conclude that the Cinderella effect applies not only to purposeful abuse by step and adoptive parents, but is also relevant to explaining increased rates of accidental fatalities among adopted and stepchildren.
Furthermore, a study of parental investment behaviors among American men living in Albuquerque, New Mexico reveals a trend of increasing financial expenditures on genetic offspring in comparison to step-offspring, which also suggests that parents are less inclined to preserve the well-being of stepchildren. The study assesses paternal investment based on four measures: the probability that a child attends college, the probability that the child receives money for college, the total money spent on children, and the amount of time per week spent with children. Four different classifications of father-child relationships are examined and compared, including fathers living with their genetic children and fathers living with the adopted and stepchildren of their current mates.  Though the study finds a clear trend of increasing investment in genetic children, the data also shows that fathers do still invest substantially in adopted and stepchildren. The authors explain the parental investment exhibited by fathers towards adopted and stepchildren as possibly motivated by the potential to improve the quality or increase the duration of the man’s relationship with the step and adopted children’s mother. This studied corroborates the findings of Lynn White, that stepparents in general provide less social support to step or adopted children than their genetic children.
Though the general trend of the data from this study supports the Cinderella effect, Anderson and colleagues note that the observed differences between parental investment in genetic children, adopted and stepchildren might be slightly reduced by a few confounding factors. For example, the authors point out that step and adoptive parenting is a self-selected process, and that when all else is equal, men who bond with unrelated children are more likely to become step or adoptive fathers, a factor that is likely to be a confounding variable in efforts to study the Cinderella effect. Anderson and colleagues also conducted a similar study of Xhosa students in South Africa that analyzes the same four classifications of paternal-child relationships, and this study offers similar results to those observed among fathers in Albuquerque.
Additionally, a study of Hazda foragers in Tanzania by Marlowe also finds evidence of decreased care provided by fathers to adopted and stepchildren when compared with genetic children. The author uses the tests to evaluate most of the observed differences in care exhibited towards genetic, adopted and stepchildren, and finds that Hadza men spend less time with (U=96), communicate less with (U=94.5), nurture less, and never play with their adopted or stepchildren.  
Marlowe further argues that any care that is provided towards adopted and stepchildren is likely attributable to the man’s mating efforts and not parental interest in the well-being of the adopted and stepchildren.
In further support of the Cinderella effect as elaborated by Daly and Wilson, a study conducted in a rural village in Trinidad demonstrates that in households containing both genetic children, adopted and stepchildren, fathers devote approximately twice as much time to interaction with genetic offspring in comparison to adopted and stepchildren.   
 Additionally, this study finds that the duration of the relationship between the stepfather adopted father and step and adopted children is negatively correlated with the relative proportion of interaction time and positively correlated with the relative proportion of antagonistic interactions between the two. As a proportion of total time spent interacting with genetic, adopted and stepchildren, fathers are shown to have approximately 75 percent more antagonistic interactions with step and adopted children. In this study, antagonistic interactions are defined as involving physical or verbal combat or an expression of injury. This includes, for example, spanking, screaming, crying, and arguing. The duration of the relationship between genetic fathers and children shows a positive correlation with both relative proportion of interaction time and antagonistic interaction. The author argues that these results show that in terms of time invested, fathers favor genetic children over stepchildren, and this preference is not attributable to the duration of the father-child relationship, a factor which is sometimes believed to be a confounding variable in the Cinderella effect. Though this study does claim a significant increase in antagonistic behavior between stepparents, adoptive parents and step and adopted children and therefore supports the Cinderella effect, it also notes that only six percent of all the observed parent-child interactions were considered antagonistic, and that the researchers never noticed any blatant physical child abuse.