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ATTACHMENT AND BONDING


ATTACHMENT AND INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

The incidence of attachment issues among internationally adopted children is unknown, as is the outcome of children with these problems. Attachment research on international adoptees to date has focused on a specific group of children: those adopted from Romania in the late 1980s to early 1990s. These children came from institutions where they suffered extreme neglect and deprivation. These studies on attachment address the ability of children to develop a first attachment after infancy.

In a comparison of Canadian-born children with Romanian children adopted to Canada after either greater than 8 or less than 4 months of institutionalization, several important findings emerged. Not surprisingly, the longer-institutionalized children had lower attachment security and more indiscriminate friendliness, but there was no relation between these two behaviors.

Some of the characteristics that differentiated each group are shown in the following table:

DIFFERENCES IN ATTACHMENT SECURITY
More Typical of Longer-institutionalized Children
  • Wants to be put down, then fusses and wants to be picked right back up
  • Is demanding and impatient
  • Easily becomes angry at parent
  • When upset tends to stay where he or she is and cries
  • Plays roughly with parent: bumps, scratches, or bites
  • Is quick to greet parent when parent enters a room
  • More Typical of Non-adopted Controls
  • When picked up puts arms around parent
  • More Typical of Shorter-institutionalized Children
  • Shows a pattern of using parents as a secure base from which to explore
  • Follows parent when asked to do so
  • Recovers quickly from crying if held
  •  

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

     

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