Identity definition is a core issue in adolescence, but intercountry adoptees have to cope with an additional task concerning whether and how integrate some aspects of ethnic background within their identity. Recently some studies, mainly conducted in the United States, have focused on the construction of ethnic identity among adolescent and young adult adoptees and have related the identity outcomes to psychosocial well-being and cultural socialization strategies, but, to our knowledge, there is a lack of research carried in Italy. Assuming a family prospective, the present research aims to explore, from the qualitative point of view, how adolescent and young adult adoptees define their identity, referring to their ethnic background and the Italian cultural context and how parents support their children in this task. Participants were 15 intercountry adopted adolescents and young adults (aged between 16 and 25) and both their parents. A semi structured interview was administered individually to the child and jointly to the parents. The content analysis highlighted some critical areas such as ethnic identification, parents’ cultural socialization strategies, dealing with the child’s difference of origin and family relationships. The co-occurrence of the above mentioned dimensions helped shaping a four typology concerning adoptees’ ethnic identity processes. Results also offered some potential implications, useful in supporting families in the different stages of adoption process.
Keywords: Ethnic identity, adoption, family relations.