Correspondence between caregiver relationship-specific attachment representations and child attachment representations in adoptive dyads.
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Dean, Grace E. (Grace Elizabeth)
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This study investigated the relationship between child-specific caregiver attachment representations as measured by the Working Model of the Child Interview (WMCI) and child attachment representations as measured by the Story Stem Attachment Profile (SSAP), using a sample of adopted and foster children in Central Texas. Participants ranged in age from three to nine years and were referred to the study by community mental health providers, private adoption agencies, and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The attachment literature suggests that attachment security can be transmitted from one generation to the next in both biologically related and adopted dyads. Thus, it was hypothesized that child attachment representations as measured by the SSAP would correspond to caregiver attachment representations using the WMCI. Analyses were conducted using both the broad SSAP attachment classifications of Secure, Insecure, Disorganized, and Defensive Avoidant, as well as individual story themes subsumed under these categories. While the study did not find evidence to support correspondence between SSAP classification and WMCI classification, exploratory analyses using logistic regression obtained significant results on a thematic level. Children who were able to acknowledge adult distress in their stories were more likely to have a caregiver who was classified as having a secure attachment on the WMCI, whereas children who disengaged from the story-telling task and/or incorporated bizarre or atypical material in their stories were more likely to have caregivers who were classified as insecurely attached on the WMCI. Furthermore, children who were referred to the study by the Texas DFPS were less likely to have a caregiver who was classified as securely attached to them as compared to children referred from other sources. Younger age and increased length of time in current placement were associated with greater likelihood of having a clinically significant low Security score on the SSAP. Given the sample size limitations of the current study, further research will need to be conducted in order to replicate the results of the exploratory analyses and further characterize the relationship between child attachment representations, caregiver child-specific attachment representations, and relevant demographic factors.