Latinx Adolescent Migrant Challenges in Reuniting with Family Members

Rita Chi-Ying Chung, Fred Bemak, Ricardo O. Sánchez

Family reunification occurs when migrants relocate without intact family units, and later reunite in new countries. Family serial migration and reunification is a global issue, relating to both voluntary and involuntary migrants who seek physical safety, psychological well-being, and economic self-sufficiency in new countries. Early studies alluded to a joyful family reconsolidation, while recent studies have found stressful reunions. This study provides an overview of the family reunification process of Latinx adolescents who have migrated to join their families in the United States.

The study conducted detailed interviews of 20 Latinx adolescents, aged 12–18 years old, in order to provide an in-depth examination of their pre and post-migration experiences. The results reveal three phases of family reunification: Latinx adolescents’ experiences after their parent(s) left to migrate to the U.S.; their own migration journey to the U.S.; and their family reunification, adaptation, and adjustment to the U.S. The findings suggest that it is essential for mental health professionals to understand and acknowledge the multiple psychosocial challenges of Latinx adolescents’ reuniting with their families in a new country. This includes feelings of abandonment and grief after their parent(s) departure to the U.S., their own migration journey to the U.S. which may have been experienced as traumatic, and psychosocial challenges in adjustment and adaptation in the U.S. after family reunification.