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Attachment is the reciprocal affectionate relationship that binds two people deeply together, or, more simply, love. Attachment is also the process by which infants internalize emotional connections to others - that is, learn to love. Attachment influences all aspects of child development and becomes the basis by which the child relates to the world, learns, and forms relationships throughout life.

Bonding and attachment refers to the mutual affectionate connection that is cemented between a child and a parent, whether the child is a birth child or an adopted child. The process of establishing this connection includes a growing feeling of entitlement to family life, love, responsibility and a variety of other emotions normally experienced by a parent and child. "Bonding" is the process and "attachment" is the result. 1

The life experiences of most internationally adopted children prior to placement conspire to interfere with the attachment process. Although no statistics are available, disordered attachment undoubtedly occurs more frequently among international adoptees, who are virtually all placed after 6 months of age, than among adoptees placed as newborns. Disordered attachment profoundly affects the well-being of the child and family. Through the publicizing of several cases of international adoptees with severe attachment disorder in the popular media, awareness of attachment issues for internationally adopted children has greatly increased.


From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.

1 Adamec, Christine, and Laurie C. Miller, MD, The Encyclopedia of Adoption, Third Edition, New York, Facts On File, Inc., 2007


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