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Thomas Coram Adoption Project: Miriam Steele, Jill Hodges, Jeanne Kaniuk, Saul Hillman Kay Sanderson Sample: 43 adoptive mothers of 61 placed children,

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Presentation on theme: "Thomas Coram Adoption Project: Miriam Steele, Jill Hodges, Jeanne Kaniuk, Saul Hillman Kay Sanderson Sample: 43 adoptive mothers of 61 placed children,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Thomas Coram Adoption Project: Miriam Steele, Jill Hodges, Jeanne Kaniuk, Saul Hillman Kay Sanderson Sample: 43 adoptive mothers of 61 placed children, aged 4 – 8 years, with histories of abuse, neglect, and multiple placements. Aim: to investigate whether there may be early signs of the influence of the adoptive mother’s state of mind with regard to attachment which would be associated with their newly placed children’s state of mind with regard attachment (as expressed in their narrative story- completions). ‘Attachment representations and adoption’ 2003 Journal of Child Psychotherapy pp

2 Thomas Coram Adoption Project: Miriam Steele, Jill Hodges, Jeanne Kaniuk, Saul Hillman Kay Sanderson AAI: I/d of unresolved states of mind when adult shows signs of ongoing grief and disorientation concerning some past loss or trauma. Story stems: Assess child’s expectations and perceptions of family roles, attachments and relationships – what does the child expect from a parent at times of need, hurt, danger, fear, separation? Does the child believe that carers are aware when children need care, comfort and protection – do they believe that the parent has them in mind? ‘Attachment representations and adoption’ 2003 Journal of Child Psychotherapy

3 Thomas Coram Adoption Project: Miriam Steele, Jill Hodges, Jeanne Kaniuk, Saul Hillman Kay Sanderson Findings: 2 years after placement, most maltreated children showed steady progress, with more positive representations of carers appearing in their stories, although alongside these more positive representations, less positive representations continued to exist. Indicators of disorganised attachments were still present e.g. catastrophic fantasies, even when more positive representations also appeared. ‘Attachment representations and adoption’ 2003 Journal of Child Psychotherapy

4 Thomas Coram Adoption Project: Miriam Steele, Jill Hodges, Jeanne Kaniuk, Saul Hillman Kay Sanderson More secure, sensitive, ‘mind-minded’ carers appear to help these maltreated children build internal representations of available and responsive caregiving. However, at times of stress or change, the more frightening internalised attachment representations/figures are once more evoked. Children regress, become more aggressive and difficult to manage. ‘Attachment representations and adoption’ 2003 Journal of Child Psychotherapy

5 Thomas Coram Adoption Project: Miriam Steele, Jill Hodges, Jeanne Kaniuk, Saul Hillman Kay Sanderson A small number of adoptive parents had an Unresolved attachment status: unhappy childhood experiences which they had not processed or reflected upon, so that they had not ‘moved on’. They remained vulnerable in the face of strongly activated attachment-related issues. Maltreated children are likely to present such parents with very powerful, evocative attachment-related issues of loss, need, neglect, rejection and/or trauma. ‘Attachment representations and adoption’ 2003 Journal of Child Psychotherapy

6 Thomas Coram Adoption Project: Miriam Steele, Jill Hodges, Jeanne Kaniuk, Saul Hillman Kay Sanderson Finding: Adoptive mothers with unresolved attachment issues found it difficult to focus on their children’s needs adequately, feeling hurt and rejected by their children’s hostile, destructive or rejecting behaviour. Finding: Maltreated children placed with unresolved adopters showed the least progress. They failed to develop more secure attachments. They continued to display more negative story stems and couldn’t use an organised strategy to deal with the stories’ attachment issues. ‘Attachment representations and adoption’ 2003 Journal of Child Psychotherapy pp

7 one possible implication …?  This study demonstrates powerfully the consequences of adopters’ unresolved aspects of their past and the way disturbing children in their care make the least progress; indeed the placement itself is more vulnerable  Thus, would there be any reason to believe that these findings would not apply to other caregivers (e.g. residential workers, foster carers, nursery workers, youth workers etc.)?  Indeed, what about all professionals working with vulnerable children?


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