Introduction. A wide literature has highlighted the link between attachment difficulties, deficit in mentalization’s skills, and some psychopathological disorders in adolescence and adulthood. Much less is known with respect to the mentalizing abilities of adopted adolescents who had been late-placed children. However, this group could represent a population bearer of particular vulnerability in mentalization skills because of their early attachment relationships were seriously compromised. Objectives. This work aimed at examining how both descriptive variables (age, gender, number of siblings), and adoption-related variables (age at the time of placement, country of origin, duration adoption) may impact on mentalizing skills – operationalized in terms of reflective functioning (FR)- of late-adopted adolescents. Methods. Study group consisted of 36 adolescents (from 12 to 16 years old) free from severe physical and psychiatric disorders and/or mental retardation. They all were more than 4 years old at the time of adoption placement. The RF was assessed by the Friend and Family Interview (FFI), a semi-structured interview, which comprises three dimensions of mentalization: the Evolutionary Perspective (EP), the Theory of Mind (ToM) and the Diversity of Feelings (DS). Results. The adoption-related variables were not associated to the RF’scores, except for a correlation between the length of placement and DS referred to best friend. Among descriptive variables, age was positively correlated with both ToM (referred to mother, brother, friend, teacher), and DS (referred to mother, brother, friend). Moreover girls showed higher scores in EP (Mann Whitney U=84,000, p<.05) and DS (friend, Mann Whitney U=69,000, p<.01) than males. No significant differences in FR compared to the number of siblings. Discussion. These results pointed out that among adolescent adoptees, as shown in studies with non-clinical samples, being older in age and belonging to the female gender represent factors which contribute to a better expression of mentalizing abilities.
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