G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)
International adoption: Symptoms of attachment disorders and their associations with the child’s background and developmental outcome

List of Authors: Raaska Hanna
Publisher: Turun yliopisto
Place: Turku
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-951-29-6264-8
eISBN: 978-951-29-6265-5


Many internationally adopted children have lived their first years of life in an environment with limited opportunities for primary caregiving. The lack of consistent care increases the prevalence of attachment disorders among them. Less is known about the influences of attachment disorders on a child’s later course of life.

This study is part of the Finnish Adoption Study. Parents of all Finnish children who had been internationally adopted by legal adoption organisations between 1985 and 2007 were sent questionnaires (N=1450). Parental evaluations of the children’s symptoms of reactive attachment disorder (RAD) at the time of adoption, their later learning or language problems using a screening scale, and children’s self-reported school bullying experiences were evaluated. Each child’s attachment-related behavioural problems were requested in a follow-up survey 1.9 and 3.8 years after adoption and compared with a Finnish reference group.

This study indicated that Finnish internationally adopted children have at least three-fold prevalence of learning and language problems compared with their age-mates. A child’s symptoms of attachment disorders were associated with learning or language problems at school age as well as with his/her school bullying experiences. The adopted children had more attachment-related behavioural problems two years after adoption than their age-mates, but the difference was no longer evident four years after adoption. In conclusion, this study showed that the symptoms of attachment disorder indicate a risk for an adopted child’s later developmental outcome. The findings demonstrate the need for comprehensive clinical examinations and planning of treatment strategies for children with symptoms of RAD. 

Internal Authors/Editors

Last updated on 2019-20-07 at 04:47