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ATTACHMENT AND BONDING


ATTACHMENT: WHAT IS IT?

Attachment is the reciprocal, affectionate enduring emotional bond between individuals. The child's first attachment to his or her primary caregiver is the model for all later attachments in life.

The early psychiatric literature about attachment was based on observations of children left without parental care in institutions or hospitals. Lessons learned from children with obvious and severe attachment disorders have been applied to children who have experienced abuse, neglect, multiple foster care placements, or other disruptions in normal family life (including day care).

Attachment is the basis for many human relationships, including spouses, siblings, and extended family. The attachment of child to parent, however, is the most primal form of attachment, and the type of most importance in adoption.

Cross-cultural research in Africa, China, Japan, Israel, Puerto Rico, and the United States demonstrates that each society has different standards for attachment. The person or persons to whom the infant is expected to attach and the behaviors that express attachment vary greatly. Sleep patterns, age of weaning, and demonstration of independence are very culture-specific. Each culture's attachment process prepares the child for adulthood in that culture, and regardless of differences, most children become securely attached to their caregivers.

 

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

 

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