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Attach Hum Dev. 2012;14(6):585-600. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2012.727257.

Attachment representations in internationally adopted children.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Seville, Spain.


Using the Story Stem Assessment Profile, attachment representations were analyzed in a group of 40 internationally adopted children studied after an average of 40 months since their adoption. These children were compared to 58 children living with their birth families and with no experience of maltreatment, and to 50 children who were living in Spanish institutions. All of the children were between four and eight years of age at the time of study. Findings indicated that the adoptees' representations were more negative than those of the control group, but similar to those of the institutionalized children. The associations between different indicators of attachment representations, as well as the role of adopted children's characteristics (pre-adoption experiences, adoption age, time with the adoptive family) were also analyzed. The results showed a long-term impact of early adversity, a certain degree of heterogeneity in the attachment representations' of both the adopted and the institutionalized children, and the role played by certain background and individual variables.

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