Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Special needs adoption, Children with disabilities-Psychology, Parents of children with disabilities-Psychology, Adoptive parents-Psychology, Attachment behavior, Post-traumatic stress disorder in children, Attachment, Adoption, Special needs, Child welfare


The purpose of this study was to examine the ways in which adoptive families are able to form attachments with children who have suffered trauma (abuse and neglect) and instability (multiple moves, school changes and people who come and go). The question that this study attempted to answer is: How do families describe the process by which attachment is re-organized in successful special needs adoptions? This study was part of a large-scale nation wide study (AdoptUSKids) conducted by Dr. Ruth McRoy, Ph.D. and was funded by the U.S. Children's Bureau . One hundred sixty one successful adoptive families who adopted children from the child welfare system were interviewed using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Data collection ended in February, 2007. This relational project used a mixed methods design and is cross sectional as it looks at these families at one point in time. The 161 families who participated in this study were interviewed and were given a booklet of self report measures. 76% of the families interviewed rated their level of attachment as "very attached". In addition, these families identified the activities they felt were instrumental in the development of the achieved level of attachment. Finally, type of abuse was found to significantly influence adoptive parent's attachment. These findings have implications for both child welfare workers and clinicians alike as the information can be used in family selection, training and in the clinical setting.




iv, 89 p. Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 73-79)