Levels of attachment security between foster and adoptive dyads using the MIMBRS observational method.
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Bickell, Jennifer A.
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The quality of the attachment relationship between foster and adopted caregiver-child dyads influences the overall quality of placement in the home. Attachment status also contributes to a host of positive and negative outcomes for a foster or adopted child. In this study, I investigated the impact of permanence on levels of overall attachment security between foster and adoptive parents as measured by the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM). Attachment behaviors were coded using the Marschak Interaction Method Behavioral Rating System (MIMBRS) (McKay, Pickens, and Stewart, 1996). Quality of interaction scores, as well as parent attachment behaviors, child attachment behaviors, and overall attachment behaviors using the MIMBRS, were compared between foster and adoptive caregivers. As hypothesized, adopted parents displayed significantly higher levels of parent attachment behaviors compared to foster parents. However, overall attachment behaviors (obtained by summing parent behaviors, child behaviors, and dyad behaviors) and child behaviors were not significantly different in foster and adopted dyads, suggesting that other mediating factors, such as maternal sensitivity or parental stress may impact attachment security in ways that permanence alone does not. However, there were notable trends in the direction of overall higher levels of attachment behaviors in adoptive dyads. Additionally, foster/adoptive fathers scored lower on attachment related behaviors than foster/adoptive mothers. Surprisingly, overall attachment security did not correlate with length of stay at placement or age at placement. These results suggest attachment benefits for adoptive families and raise questions regarding the process of attachment in non-biological fathers.