PATTERNS OF ATTACHMENT OF ADOPTED INFANTS TO THEIR MOTHERS
STEIR, MARY E.
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This study compared the attachment to their mother of a group of adopted and non-adopted infants. The development of the infant's attachment relationship is mediated by interaction between mother and infant. The study was designed to explore whether differences between the early interactional experiences of adoptive and non-adoptive mother-infant pairs would differentially affect the emergent attachment relationship.;Thirty-four mother-infant pairs, 17 in each group, participated in this study. They were videotaped in the Strange Situation procedure when the infant was between 12 to 19 months of age. The quality of the infant's attachment was evaluated as anxious or secure by coders, blind to the infant's adoptive status, trained in Ainsworth's classification technique. The mothers were white, well educated, and married. The infants were all placed for adoption within their first ten weeks.;The temperament of both mother and infant, and the mother's childrearing attitudes were assessed because of their potential influence on the quality of the mother-infant interaction and consequently the infant's attachment relationship. The Toddler Temperament Scale and the New York Longitudinal Study for Young Adult Life were used to assess infant and mother temperament, respectively. The Child Rearing Practices Report Q-sort (CRPR) was used to assess maternal attitude.;No significant differences in the quality of the infant's attachment was found between the adopted and non-adopted infants. However, when children whose ordinal position was "first" in their families were considered separately, adopted infants had significantly more anxious attachment. This finding was confounded by the age of placement of the infants in the present study. There were no significant differences in infant and maternal temperament and maternal childrearing attitudes in the two groups.;Despite certain important differences between the early interactional experience of adoptive and non-adoptive mother-infant pairs, adoption per se was not associated with increased risk for the development of anxious attachment. However, the results suggest the need for further attachment. However, the results suggest the need for further research regarding how the infant's placement age and ordinal position in his family affect his attachment to his mother.
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