Attachment doesn’t come immediately at all times, even with the biological parent and child. Building attachment is formed over time through giving consistent love and care and meeting all the child’s needs. Some adoptive parents are successful in forming a strong bond with their child, but some experiences a hard time building a happy relationship especially when the child has an attachment problem. In Thompson’s “The Legacy of Early Attachments”, he evaluated the impact of changing family circumstances and quality of care on changes in attachment security early in life and prediction of later behavior (Thompson, 2000).
When a child lost an attachment figure, it will cause a long and painful grief. Moreover, the child experiences attachment problems from other tragic events such as traumatic loss, severe deprivation, abuse, etc. The age of the adoptee is one of the major factors considered in adoption, wherein infants are doing best. According to a study conducted in New Zealand, newly born babies adopted had fewer externalizing conflicts than children who even grow up with at least one biological parent. Older adoptees tend to have a higher occurrence of pre-existing social instability and medical problems.
However, adopted girls and adoptees of skilled foster families have better results (Nickman et al, 2005). Deborah Gray, author of “Attaching in Adoption”, explained in her book that children under 4 years of age are expected to show considerable affection within a year. Older children are expected to form attachment within two years upon arrival. However, factors such as trauma, multiple placements, severe abuse, early neglect, cultural change can prolong this time and can be very challenging to the adoptive parents, patience is really needed (Gray, 2002).
Gray also said that most children are not attaching because they are numbed or emotionally out-of-control due to trauma. She suggests an orientation therapy about attachment and trauma-coping-treatments (Gray, 2002). For children who experienced those kinds of circumstances; it is hard for them to cope with new environment with their new parents because they are still tied with their early attachment figure or they are still haunted by the past.
In addition, there are other factors and issues that may affect attachment formation and adjustments of adopted children: emotional investment in biological parents, their own conception of family, and their rational development (Brodzinsky, 1998). Youngsters may barely understand adoption if they will be told about this family status, thus, their aptitude to realize the implications of being adopted is limited. However, as they get older, their views about adoption, their origins and themselves undergo significant adjustments.
They are more likely asking questions such as “Who my real parents are? ”, “Why didn’t they keep me? ”, “Don’t they love me? ” , or questions asking why their mothers didn’t chose some available options to keep them, “If my parents are not financially stabled to support me, why didn’t they get a job? ”, “if she’s no one with her, why didn’t she get married, or have her parents and friends so that she can keep me? ”, “If she didn’t know how to take care of a baby, why didn’t someone teach her? ”.
The role of the adoptive parents of providing explanations to their child’s questions is very necessary to clear the confusions in the child’s mind to avoid further conflicts in the future (Brodzinsky, 1998). As adopted children get older and have more knowledge and better understanding about the concept of family, their curiosity about their real parents also increases. They will want to know more about their origins: who are their biological parents, do they have other siblings, how they were adopted, what is the connection of their adoptive parents with their birth parents, etc (Brodzinsky, 1998).
Some children view their adoption in the positive way while there are some who experiences difficulties in adjusting to their status. Some are often filled with anger, confusion, pain, and uncertainty. One reason is the feeling of loss or the issue of relinquishment: they were adopted because their biological parents them over to them or they are already dead (Brodzinsky, 1998). All through their lives, they have the feeling of they have to grieve or cope with losses particularly significant to each developmental phase. For children who were adopted when they are still infants, there are five phases of their narratives.
Denying awareness: having the sense of obligation and gratitude toward the adoptive parents that he doesn’t consider himself as an adopted child. Emerging awareness: thankful for his adoptive family yet he’s curious about adoption issues. He starts asking for his origin and feeling a sense of not belonging, however, he is doubtful to explore the truth. Drowning in Awareness: he feels mad, sad, angry, and bitter toward his biological and foster family, as well as the adoption system. Reemerging from awareness: he’s aware of the losses but he realized the benefits of adoption to him, he starts accepting the truth.
And lastly, finding peace: he finally accepted the fact of being an adopted child and starts to move on (Penny et al, 2007). To build secure attachment between a parent and adoptee, it is important that the parent know the background of the child to adjust and fully understand his/her situation. Setting up a nurturing environment (with open, honest, and non-defensive communication) is also necessary to make him feel safe and secure. Moreover, emphasize the inevitability to help him feel positive or comfortable with their origins. Help them boost their self-esteem and social skills.
It is very important to the adoptive child to feel emotionally attached, and proud of, their adoptive and birth family. Children who formed secure attachment with their adoptive parents have more positive view of the world and gains more confidence and certainty about themselves. On the contrary, those who failed to form such attachment will always be seeking for love, affection, and care from an attachment figure. Moreover, their whole life will always be filled with so many uncertainties and questions in their minds, with their past still haunting them. I.
Psychological issues that may arise from having spent a period of time within in an institution The quality of care from an institution is different from the care that can be given by a family. The physical care is less adequate since there are a large number of children that is being taken care in the institutions by a few overburdened adults. The lack of opportunity to form discriminating emotional bonds to a specific caregiver that are normally formed in the first year of life (the lack of an attachment figure in the institution setting) creates detrimental effects.
The adoptive children show voracious craving for adult attention and difficulty in developing good interaction and relations with other people (Marcovitch et al, 1997). Studies show that there are less problems reported from parents who adopted younger children, especially infants, than those who adopted older children. Complains include excessive attention-seeking, restlessness, disobedience, and poor peer relations (Marcovitch et al, 1997). If we will go back to the theory of attachment, these behavior problems is related to lack of having a secure attachment from a caregiver of a child.
Having to spend more time in an institution wherein not all the sufficient needs of a child is being given such as maternal love, physical and emotional needs, guidance, etc. in the early years of a person, he falls under the avoidant type. He got used to the situation of no one seems to really care about him. That is why being adopted would be very challenging to both the parents and the child. Insecure types have difficulties in trusting other people; therefore it affects their social and communication skills that may hinder their adjustment to their new environment.