About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Provisional Primary Attachment Deprived in the Adopted Child


The Provisions of the Primary Attachment Bond, and the Deprived in the Adopted Child

The most important tenet of attachment theory is that an infant needs to continue the developmental relationship with the primary attachment caregiver (the biological mother) for the child’s successful social and emotional development, and in particular for learning how to effectively regulate their feelings through genetic mirroring. Fathers or any other individuals, are equally likely to become principal attachment figures if they provide most of the child care and related social interaction. In the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver, the infant will use the caregiver as a “safe base” from which to explore. It should be recognized that “even sensitive caregivers get it right only about 50 percent of the time. Their communications are either out of synch, or mismatched. There are times when parents feel tired or distracted. The telephone rings or there is breakfast to prepare. In other words, attuned interactions rupture quite frequently. But the hallmark of a sensitive caregiver is that the ruptures are managed and repaired.

Attachments between infants and caregivers form even if this caregiver is not sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them. This has important implications. Infants cannot exit unpredictable or insensitive caregiving relationships. Instead they must manage themselves as best they can within such relationships. Research by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1960s and 70s found that children will have different patterns of attachment depending primarily on how they experienced their early caregiving environment. Early patterns of attachment, in turn, shape — but do not determine — the individual's expectations in later relationships. Four different attachment classifications have been identified in children: secure attachment,anxious-ambivalent attachment,anxious- avoidant attachment and disorganized attachment. Attachment theory has become the dominant theory used today in the study of infant and toddler behavior and in the fields of infant mental health, treatment of children, and related fields. Secure attachment is considered to be the best attachment style. Secure attachment is when children feel secure in the presence of their caregivers. When the caregiver leaves the infant alone, the infant feels separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is what infants feel when they are separated from their caregivers. Anxious-ambivalent attachment is when the infant feels separation anxiety when separated from his caregiver and does not feel reassured when the caregiver returns to the infant. Anxious-avoidant attachment is when the infant avoids their parents. Disorganized attachment is when there is a lack of attachment behavior. In the 1980s, the theory was extended to attachment in adults. Attachment applies to adults when adults feel close attachment to their parents and their romantic partners.
Within attachment theory, attachment means 'a biological instinct in which proximity to an attachment figure is sought when the child senses or perceives threat or discomfort. Attachment behavior anticipates a response by the attachment figure which will remove threat or discomfort, Such bonds may be reciprocal between two adults, but between a child and a caregiver these bonds are based on the child's need for safety, security and protection, paramount in infancy and childhood. [Bowlby] begins by noting that organisms at different levels of the phylogenetic scale regulate instinctive behavior in distinct ways, ranging from primitive reflex-like "fixed action patterns" to complex plan hierarchies with subgoals and strong learning components. In the most complex organisms, instinctive behaviors may be "goal-corrected" with continual on-course adjustments (such as a bird of prey adjusting its flight to the movements of the prey). The concept of cybernetically controlled behavioral systems organized as plan hierarchies (Miller, Galanter, and Pribram, 1960) thus came to replace Freud's concept of drive and instinct. Such systems regulate behaviors in ways that need not be rigidly innate, but—depending on the organism—can adapt in greater or lesser degrees to changes in environmental circumstances, provided that these do not deviate too much from the organism's environment of evolutionary adaptedness. Such flexible organisms pay a price, however, because adaptable behavioral systems can more easily be subverted from their optimal path of development. For humans, Bowlby speculates, the environment of evolutionary adaptedness probably resembles that of present-day hunter-gatherer societies for the purpose of survival, and, ultimately, genetic replication. Attachment theory is not an exhaustive description of human relationships, nor is it synonymous with love and affection, although these may indicate that bonds exist. Some infants direct attachment behavior (proximity seeking) toward more than one attachment figure almost as soon as they start to show discrimination between caregivers; most come to do so during their second year. These figures are arranged hierarchically, with the principal attachment figure at the top. The set-goal of the attachment behavioral system is to maintain the accessibility and availability of the attachment figure. "Alarm" is the term used for activation of the attachment behavioral system caused by fear of danger. "Anxiety" is the anticipation or fear of being cut off from the attachment figure. If the figure is unavailable or unresponsive, separation distress occurs. In infants, physical separation can cause anxiety and anger, followed by sadness and despair. By age three or four, physical separation is no longer such a threat to the child's bond with the attachment figure. Threats to security in older children and adults arise from prolonged absence, breakdowns in communication, emotional unavailability, or signs of rejection or abandonment.
The attachment behavioral system serves to achieve or maintain proximity to the attachment figure. Pre-attachment behaviors occur in the first six months of life. During the first phase (the first eight weeks), infants smile, babble, and cry to attract the attention of potential caregivers. Although infants of this age learn to discriminate between caregivers, these behaviors are directed at anyone in the vicinity. During the second phase (two to six months), the infant increasingly discriminates between familiar and unfamiliar adults, becoming more responsive toward the caregiver; following and clinging are added to the range of behaviors. Clear-cut attachment develops in the third phase, between the ages of six months and two years. The infant's behavior toward the caregiver becomes organised on a goal-directed basis to achieve the conditions that make it feel secure. By the end of the first year, the infant is able to display a range of attachment behaviors designed to maintain proximity. These manifest as protesting the caregiver's departure, greeting the caregiver's return, clinging when frightened, and following when able. With the development of locomotion, the infant begins to use the caregiver or caregivers as a “safe base” from which to explore. Infant exploration is greater when the caregiver is present because the infant's attachment system is relaxed and it is free to explore. If the caregiver is inaccessible or unresponsive, attachment behavior is more strongly exhibited. Anxiety, fear, illness, and fatigue will cause a child to increase attachment behaviors. After the second year, as the child begins to see the caregiver as an independent person, a more complex and goal-corrected partnership is formed. Children begin to notice others' goals and feelings and plan their actions accordingly. For example, whereas babies cry because of pain, two-year-olds cry to summon their caregiver, and if that does not work, cry louder, shout, or follow.


Common attachment behaviors and emotions, displayed in most social primates including humans, are adaptive. The long-term evolution of these species has involved selection for social behaviors that make individual or group survival more likely. The commonly observed attachment behavior of toddlers staying near familiar people would have had safety advantages in the environment of early adaptation, and has similar advantages today. Bowlby saw the environment of early adaptation as similar to current hunter gatherer societies. There is a survival advantage in the capacity to sense possibly dangerous conditions such as unfamiliarity, being alone, or rapid approach. According to Bowlby, proximity-seeking to the attachment figure in the face of threat is the "set-goal" of the attachment behavioral system.
Biology of attachment
In addition to longitudinal studies, there has been psychophysiological research on the biology of attachment. Research has begun to include neural development behavior genetics and temperment concepts. Generally, temperament and attachment constitute separate developmental domains, but aspects of both contribute to a range of interpersonal and intrapersonal developmental outcomes. Some types of temperament may make some individuals susceptible to the stress of unpredictable or hostile relationships with caregivers in the early years. In the absence of available and responsive caregivers it appears that some children are particularly vulnerable to developing attachment disorders.
In psychophysiological research on attachment, the two main areas studied have been autonomic responses, such as heart rate or respiration, and the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis. Infants' physiological responses have been measured during the Strange Situation procedure looking at individual differences in infant temperament and the extent to which attachment acts as a moderator. There is some evidence that the quality of caregiving shapes the development of the neurological systems which regulate stress.
Another issue is the role of inherited genetic factors in shaping attachments: for example one type of polymorphism of the gene coding for the D2 dopamine receptor has been linked to anxious attachment and another in the gene for the 5-HT 2A serotonin receptor with avoidant attachment. This suggests that the influence of maternal care on attachment security is not the same for all children. One theoretical basis for this is that it makes biological sense for children to vary in their susceptibility to rearing influence.

Maternal sensitivity is a mother's ability to perceive and infer the meaning behind her infant's behavior signals and to respond to them promptly and appropriately. Maternal sensitivity affects child development at all stages through life, from infancy, all the way to adulthood. In general, more sensitive mothers have healthier, more socially and cognitively developed children than those who are not as sensitive. Also, maternal sensitivity has been found to affect the person psychologically even as an adult. Adults who experienced high maternal sensitivity during their childhood were found to be more secure than those who experienced less sensitive mothers. Once the adult becomes a parent themselves, their own understanding of maternal sensitivity will affect their own children's development. Some research suggests that adult mothers display more maternal sensitivity than adolescent mothers who may in turn have children with a lower IQ and reading level than children of adult mothers.
There are different ways of assessing maternal sensitivity, such as through the use of naturalistic observation, the Strange Situation, maternal-synchrony, and maternal mind-mindedness.

Role of maternal sensitivity in development


Infants whose mothers are more sensitive are more likely to display secure attachment relationships. Because the maternal figure is generally accessible and responsive to the infant's needs, the infant is able to form expectations of the mother's behavior. Once expectations are met and the infant feels a consistency in the mother's sensitivity, the infant is able to find security in the maternal figure. Those infants whose mothers do not respond to the signals from their children or respond inappropriately to their children's cries for attention will form insecure and anxious attachments because the infants are unable to consistently depend on the maternal figures for predictable and safe responses.
In order for the infant to feel that the maternal figure is accessible and responsive, a certain amount of interaction must occur. Though the most research has been done on face-to-face interaction, studies have found that bodily interaction is also important in sensitivity and development. It is not how often the baby is held that reflects attachment, but how the baby is held and whether or not the baby desires to be held that matters in attachment development. Another factor that is important is sensitivity to the infant's feeding signals. There lies some controversy in whether infants who form insecure attachment relationships with their mothers do so because the mother is particularly insensitive to her child's needs or because of differences in their personality (i.e. their temperament) and due to life situations.
There is a crucial interplay between parenting and child characteristics such as health, temperament, development and cognition. The children with the most sensitive, consistent mothers are the ones who are generally most healthy, happy and well adapted.

Health in childhood

Maternal sensitivity even in the first few months of mother–child relationships are an important factor to health in childhood, especially with obesity. A study using data from the National Institute of Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development assessed mother–child interactions and categorized them in one of two groups: sensitive or insensitive. Their child's growth (height and weight) was monitored throughout their childhood, from 24 months all the way to grade six, and body mass index was calculated. As the children grew, the percentage of overweight or obese grew too. From 24 months the overall overweight-obese percentage was 15.58% and by grade six, 34.34% of the children were classified as overweight or obese. More interesting is the difference between the maternal sensitive group and the maternal insensitive group. The children with the sensitive mothers started out with an overweight-obese percentage of 14.96% (24 months) and ended the research with 29.54% (grade six). The children classified with insensitive mothers had an overweight-obese percentage of 16.16% at 24 months and 39.28% at grade six. This shows a significant correlation between the mother's sensitivity and the child's risk for overweight-obesity during their elementary years. This is very important for obesity prevention programs for children.

Temperament in childhood

Current studies have shown a correlation between maternal sensitivity or insensitivity, negative discipline and childhood aggression. An experiment sampling 117 mother–child pairs showed a unique relationship between the mother's sensitivity and the use of discipline and the child's temperament level. Observations (of the mother's sensitivity to the child's needs, the child's aggression and temperament level and the relationship between the two) were made when the children on average were 26.71 months old (range of 13.58 to 41.91 months). The data were collected again a year later. Results show a year later that negative discipline is correlated with child aggression, but only when that mother is insensitive.

Development in childhood

A study by Jay Belsky and R.M. Pasco Fearon tested the correlation between childhood development and the sensitivity of the mother.   The hypotheses were:
  • secure attachment (observed at 15 months) and maternal sensitivity (observed at 24 months) produced the highest competencies in three-year-old children,
  • the least competent children would have a history of insecure attachment and maternal insensitivity,
  • and the children reared with mixed or inconsistency would fall in between.
The children were tested in five developmental categories: problem behavior, social competence, expressive language, receptive language and school readiness. Results highly support the hypothesis (i.e. maternal sensitivity and childhood development are positively correlated.) This is an important issue as it shows how influential the early experience of a child affects their future development.

Cognition in childhood

Mothers who were found to display higher sensitivity towards their children from preschool to first grade were found to have higher achieving children than those who displayed lower maternal sensitivity. The children of maternally sensitive mothers scored higher in math and phoneme knowledge than those who had a history of lower maternal sensitivity.
Maternal sensitivity has been shown to teach infants attentional skills, which are necessary later in life for emotional control, and other more complex cognitive processes.
In families with more than one child (twins or triplets), it has been found that maternal sensitivity is lower, as there are more needs to be taken care of by the mother and less time to form a unique bond, which in turn results in decreased cognitive development in the infants (relative to if the child were raised alone). Furthermore, in the newborn period, women who displayed high maternal sensitivity had children who were able to regulate their emotions and who had higher symbolic and cognitive skills. In the case of the triplets, the child that received the least maternal sensitivity was the one that showed the poorest outcomes cognitively and had the most medical problems.

Socialization in childhood

Maternal sensitivity has been shown to have an effect on children's socialization skills. In particular, some research suggests that children of more sensitive caregivers have high levels of effortful (i.e. emotional and behavioral) control. Such control is proposed to have been fostered from the infancy stage when the a sensitive mother's quick and appropriate responses to the baby's distress teaches the baby to adjust his/her arousal. This speedy regulation of arousal is then adapted into childhood resulting in the ability to regulate emotion and behavior well.
Caregiver sensitivity has also been found to have a connection with empathy in children. Generally, securely attached children have been found to be more empathetic compared with insecurely attached children. The reasoning suggested for this result is that because securely attached children receive more empathy from caregivers during times that they themselves are distressed, they are more likely to show empathy in a situation where someone else is distressed.


Adults' own understanding of maternal sensitivity affects their sensitivity towards their own children. Adults who had insensitive mothers during infancy were found to not be able to remember specific childhood events or their importance. They were not able to present an accurate description of their parents by use of memories, they were found to idealize experiences and are more likely to remember situations in which they were rejected. Adults who experienced higher maternal sensitivity during both infancy and adulthood were found to be less dismissive and more secure than those who did not. Adults who are preoccupied were found to also try to please their parents as they were young, and have a sense of anger towards them. About half of the adults who were found more preoccupied than others were found to have experienced divorce between their parents earlier in life, as well as other negative life events such as death of a parent or sexual abuse. These life events cause the security of attachment between mother and child to decrease as the mother's availability, as well as responsiveness may decrease, no matter the maternal sensitivity experienced prior to these events. Male adults were found to have experienced less maternal sensitivity earlier in life than females and were more likely to be classified as dismissive than females were.