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Attachment and resilience in early- deprived children REACH Seminar, October 19, 2010 Lucy Le Mare Simon Fraser University.

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Presentation on theme: "Attachment and resilience in early- deprived children REACH Seminar, October 19, 2010 Lucy Le Mare Simon Fraser University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Attachment and resilience in early- deprived children REACH Seminar, October 19, 2010 Lucy Le Mare Simon Fraser University

2 Outline Attachment  What is it?  Its importance in development Attachment in IC adoptees  Meta-analytic evidence  Longitudinal evidence  Evidence from case studies

3 What is Attachment? “To say of a child that he has an attachment to someone means that he is strongly disposed to seek proximity to and contact with a specific figure and to do so in certain situations, notably when he is frightened, tired, or ill.” John Bowlby, 1982

4 The Development of Attachment The tendency to form an attachment is innate and universal Under “normal” rearing circumstances, by 6 or 7 months of age, babies have identified a primary attachment figure All babies form attachments but the quality of those attachments vary

5 Quality of Attachment and Internal Working Models Secure Insecure avoidant Insecure resistant Insecure Disorganized Internal Working Model

6 Importance of attachment Development of a secure attachment has long-term benefits for children  Development of emotion regulation  Basic trust in their parents & others and in their own abilities to influence the world  Ability to function autonomously and with confidence

7 Attachment and Intercountry Adoption Risks for IC adoptees  Experience of institutional deprivation and neglect

8 What does the research show? Meta-analytic studies  E.g., Van den Dries, Juffer, van IJzendoorn, & Bakermans-Kranenburg (2009) Longitudinal studies  E.g., Audet & Le Mare (in press) Case studies  E.g., Kurytnik & Le Mare (in prep.)

9 Meta-analysis of attachment in adopted children Van den Dries, Juffer, van IJzendoorn, & Bakermans-Kranenburg (2009)  17 studies; N = 772 adopted children  Moderator variables: Age at placement Time spent in the new family Continent of origin Type of placement (international or domestic) Age of attachment assessment

10 Secure Attachment (Van den Dries et al., 2009)

11 Summary of Meta-analysis – Attachment Security IC adoptees have similar rates of attachment security as domestic adoptees Adopted children have lower rates of security than non-adopted children ONLY if they are adopted after 12 months of age IC adoptees have HIGHER rates of attachment security than children in institutions

12 Romanian Adoption Study- Participants Romanian Orphan Group (RO)  On average spent 18 months (since birth) in an institution before adoption Early Adopted Group (EA)  Adopted from Romania prior to 4 months of age. Canadian Born Group (CB)  Non-adopted, raised in birth families  Matched to ROs and EA’s on sex, age, and family demographic variables.

13 Romanian Adoption Study Design Phase 1 – 11 months post adoption Age range = 18 to 76 months Phase 2 – 4.5 years old Phase 3 – 10.5 years old Phase 4 – 17 years old

14 Romanian Adoption Project: Security 11 mos. post-adoption (Ames, 1997)

15 Romanian Adoption Project: Attachment at age 4.5 years (Chisholm, 1998)

16 Romanian Adoption Project: Attachment at age 10.5 years (Fernyhough, Audet, & Le Mare, 2002)

17 Summary of longitudinal findings Two groups of IC adoptees (RO & EA) differed in attachment security across time At all 3 times, the late adopted RO group showed higher rates of insecurity and lower rates of security than the CB and EA groups. At all 3 times the EA group did not differ from the CB group in rates of security

18 Qualitative case studies (Kurytnik & Le Mare, in prep) 9 RO (adopted > 9 months) participants  5 demonstrated “resilience” at age 17  4 demonstrated “non-resilience” at 17

19 Selection Criteria Parent reports on the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach 1991) Parents open-ended written comments on strengths and challenges Researchers’ overall impression of functioning based on many written comments

20 Examples of resilient and non- resilient participants Mitch (R4) had a total CBCL score of 2, indicating very few behavioural difficulties. Parent reported strengths included being hard working, musical, a good listener, focused on school, and devoted to his family. He excelled in sports, music and school. He planned to go to medical school. He worked part-time as a lifeguard, volunteered as a referee, and was on the student executive at school. Regarding challenges, his parents had no concerns. Cory (NR3) had a total CBCL score of 74, indicating behavioural difficulties in the clinical range, He was failing all school subjects and repeating 9 th grade. His parents were most concerned about his very low self-esteem and social immaturity. He enjoyed soccer, but had no other hobbies or interests, and no employment. He was living with foster parents who commented, “he frequently engages in impulsive behaviour leading to poor choices”.

21 Data sources Multiple informants at each assessment (teachers, parents, peers, researchers) Quantitative and qualitative data

22 Data Sources cont…. 11 mos. Post adoption 4.5 years10.5 years17 years IntellectualXXXX BehaviourXXXX Parent-child relationship XXXX Peer relationsXXX Self-conceptXXX Family functioning XXXX

23 Findings R1R2R3R4*R5NR1NR2NR3*NR4 adoption # Dev delays Gesell delays N/A IQ Income$75K$35K $100K$85K$50K$75K$55K Parents ages 36, 37 33, Parents educ

24 Caregiving in Early Childhood Resilient participants all cared for by their mothers. Non-resilient participants all cared for by non-familial babysitters, nannies, or daycare providers.

25 Family Structure Amount of individual attention available  Number of siblings  Closeness in age of siblings

26 Parenting styles “Mitch’s (R4) family is very sensitive to his needs and provides him with experiences to encourage development in a natural and loving manner. His mother recognizes that using isolation as a discipline technique was inappropriate for this child” (IDP specialist) “Allison’s (NR1) mother doesn’t seem harsh, but not nurturing either. There is far too much talking about the kids in front of them” (Researcher notes)

27 Parental outlook “Mitch (R4) is often immature, but so are all 10-year-old boys” “I know something is going to happen but it’s not my fault. I’m fully prepared that Cory (NR3) will be arrested someday…he’s not changing…he’ll never change”

28 Parenting stress “This strikes me as a very happy and well-adjusted family despite the fact that the parents are divorced” (Researcher describing Liam’s (R1) family) “My parents disowned me for what I had done” (Allison’s (NR1) mother referring to the adoptions of her two daughters)

29 Attachment “Heather (R3) is managing well in her new household, and is becoming increasingly more outgoing and secure. She appears to have bonded well with her adoptive mother” (age 2.5 years) “I enrolled her (Allison – NR1) twice in a stranger program and it may have helped a little but I still don’t trust her” (age 10.5)

30 Conclusions IC adoptees adopted < 12 months are at no increased risk of attachment insecurity IC adoptees adopted > 12 months are at elevated risk for attachment insecurity BUT, IC adoptees with lengthy and extreme early deprivation can form secure attachments and develop positively into healthy, happy, and productive teens.

31 Implications Pre-adoption education for families Post-adoption support for families


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