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Separation and Reunification: The Experiences of Adolescents Living in Transnational Families


There are increasing numbers of mothers as well as fathers who engage in long-term migration to support their children and other family members in their home countries. In this article, the current state of the literature about children and adolescents left at home in these transnational families is surveyed and reviewed. The article reviews the effects on children of the process of separation from parents, the impact of gifts and remittances home, communication with distant parents and the quality of life with their substitute caregivers. The effects of immigration in late childhood or adolescence on these separated children are examined, as well as what is known about the processes of adaptation and family reunification, including migration traumas, impact of gender, and educational outcomes. Suggestions are given for pediatric clinicians working with reunifying families. Gaps in the literature are highlighted and the need for research into factors that promote successful family re-engagement and overall adaptation upon reunification.

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