Are children adopted as infants able to form secure attachments?

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Answered by: Lauren, An Expert in the Raising Children Category
When care is consistent and sensitive to an infant's needs, the child begins to trust others. As the infant begins to see others as trustworthy and dependable, the infant develops a sense of security and begins to see his or her self as worthy of receiving such care. This leads to the ability of the child to form a secure attachment to his or her caregiver. Through this bond, the child internalizes this concept and assimilates that experiences and relationships outside of the care-giving relationship will also be fulfilling and are worth pursuing. Therefore, the cognitive and emotional development will be healthy and the child will be able to form healthy social relationships. Conversely, a lack of bonding can have the opposite influence on the child's development of security and how he or she trusts others or values his or her self. This will lead to an insecure attachment between the child and his or her caregiver. Therefore, the cognitive and emotional development will be poor and the will will not be able to form healthy social relationships. In sum, the relationship between the caregiver and the infant is the foundation for the expectations the child has of others, as well as the child's self. This serves as the child’s first relationship and will serve as the example for all of the child’s future relationships. When focusing on the affects adoption has on children adopted as infants, despite the consistent love and support provided by nurturing adoptive parents, even children adopted at birth, never being institutionalized, demonstrate emotional disturbances and behavioral problems. Statistically, adopted children have more difficulty academically and socially, have a higher rate of juvenile delinquency, a higher rate of sexual promiscuity, and are more likely to run away than non-adopted children. This cannot be solely attributed to a dysfunction on the part of the adoptive parents, but is instead may be by a primal wound that develops from removing the infant from the birth mother in which the infant formed a profound bond during the nine months spent in the birth mother's womb and then continued to form immediately after birth. If that bonding is interrupted by the infant being permanently separated from the birth mother, it causes a sense of abandonment that negatively impacts their emotional development. Children adopted as infants internalize this feeling of being unwanted by their birth mother and it negatively impacts their self-esteem and trust of others. The trauma of being removed from their birth mother is suffered by all adopted children, and that experience will have an effect on the relationships they form with others. If this early experience of loss is understood and treated as such for the child, a healthy emotional development in the child is attainable. Consistent care that is sensitive to the adopted child's needs can heal the mistrust the adopted child may feel towards others, and help the child form a positive self-worth. This leads to the capability of the child to develop a loving relationship with the caregivers and others.

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