Highlights from Articles
Some articles, to be found in the reference database, are highlighted. See Selwyn et al (2014) ‘Beyond the Adoption Order: challenges, interventions and adoption disruption’
April 2014 the Department of Education from the UK published on te website the important publication of J.Selwyn and collegues 'Beyond the Adoption Order: challenges, interventions and adoption disruption.
At the time the study began, there was some debate about the prevalence of adoption disruption, with various commentators citing disruption rates ranging from 5% to 50%. The researchers were surprised of the low disruption rates of 3.2% they found after adoption orders, lower than Special Guardian Orders and Residence Orders.
Adoption provides a stable family for maltreated children unable to return home. Parents commit themselves and their resources to children who need the same kind of family experiences as any child, but also need much more besides. Given what we now know of the challenges and impact on adoptive parents and the pain and distress of young people who struggle to live in a family, the spotlight now has to be shone onto post adoption support.
Attachment therapy Colonnesi and Stams, University of Amsterdam, studied the use of the ‘basic trust’ method, a new attachment-oriented intervention aimed at improving parental mind-mindedness, promoting positive parent–child relationships, and reducing child psychopathology in families with adopted children. Twenty families with adopted children (2–5 years of age) with attachment problems were tested before and six months after the intervention. Positive medium-to-large changes were found in children’s insecure attachments to their mothers, disorganized attachments to both their parents and conduct problemsmothers who had spent more time with their adopted children perceived less peer problems in their children after the intervention. (Colonnesi et al, 2013).
April 2012 at EurAdopt Open Days Adoc coordinator Gera ter Meulen held a presentation on articles published in international scientific Journals of the last two years An overview of the presentation.
Precocious Puberty. Research on Central Precocious Puberty in 250 children in Spain showed that CCP is a rare disease whose risk markedly increases with both national and international adoption but is not influenced by immigration. Ref. Soriano-Guillen et al
Methylation: interface between genes and environment. Experiences in early childhood may lead to biochemical changes in chromosomes and to differences in the expression of genes. This was shown in a study on the serotonin transporter gene 5HTT in 143 adults, adopted as baby. The long variant of the gene was a protecting factor against unresolved trauma, but the protection disappeared if the 5HTT promoter had a high degree of methylation. Earlier research had already shown that experiences of maltreatment in childhood had major influence on methylation, and the higher levels of methylation of the long protective variant of the gene were associated with less unresolved loss or other trauma. The study showed that methylation does not only influence the expression of the genes, but also influences behaviour, in this case the resolving of a traumatic experience. Methylation may serve as the interface between adverse environment and the developing organism. Ref: van IJzendoorn
Comparing effects institute and foster care. Van den Dries et al compared the physical, cognitive, and motor development of infants (11-16 months) adopted from foster care with infants adopted from institutions. The study showed that(modest) physical growth delays were similar for formerly fostered and post-institutionalized children. For weight and head circumference (but not for height) a catch-up over time was found. The daily cortisol curves, showing the hormonal stress regulation of the formerly fostered and post-institutionalized children, were almost comparable to non-adopted children. The former foster children outperformed the post-institutionalized children on mental and motor skills. The influence of pre-adoption foster versus institutional rearing seems more pronounced for cognitive and motor development than for physical development and hormonal stress regulation. The outcomes suggest that pre-adoption foster care is less detrimental to children's cognitive and motor development than institutional rearing (Ref. Van den Dries).
Attachment and emotion regulation. Oosterman et al examined whether the quality of relationships with foster caregivers, measured as attachment, was associated with autonomic nervous system reactivity of children during the Strange Situation Test. Children with a background of neglect and those with disordered attachment showed most sympathetic reactivity during the procedure. Moreover, children with disordered attachment showed less vagal regulation than children with ordered attachment. The findings show that the quality of relationships with current caregivers, and to a lesser extent specific experiences of neglect, may have an impact on children's abilities to regulate emotions in the context of environmental stress and challenges (Ref.
Indiscriminate friendliness. Indiscriminate friendliness is well documented in children adopted internationally following institutional rearing, but is less studied in maltreated foster children. However, this study shows that foster children exhibited higher levels of indiscriminate friendliness than nonmaltreated children. Inhibitory control was negatively associated with indiscriminate friendliness. Additionally, the foster children who had experienced a greater number of foster caregivers had poorer inhibitory control, which was in turn associated with greater indiscriminate friendliness. The results indicate a greater prevalence of indiscriminate friendliness among foster children and suggest that indiscriminate friendliness is part of a larger pattern of dysregulation associated with inconsistency in caregiving. (Ref. Pears).
Hurt et al found no significant effect of gestational cocaine exposure on neurocognitive function at middle school age in a group adopted children – the effect of age and childhood environment appeared to be more pronounced (Ref. Hurt)
Information obtained from 419 case files was used to investigate the associations between the foster child's adjustment to the foster family and factors in the histories of the child and the parents, as well as factors in the relationship between foster children and their biological parents while they are placed in foster care. Problems in the foster child's prior history, particularly attachment disorders and the experience of replacements, affect the extent of adjustment to the foster family. In-home visits by the child and the absence of parental permission to stay with the foster family are two factors related to the parent-child relationship that impeded adjustment. In general, parental problem factors did not affect adjustment. The fact that many foster children come from problem-laden backgrounds raises the question of whether foster parents are always sufficiently equipped to cope with these problems. (Ref. Strijker)
Larger families, one-parent families, and families with a stepparent showed elevated risks for child maltreatment. Adoptive families, however, showed significantly less child maltreatment than expected. The findings are discussed in the context of parental investment theory that seems to be applicable to stepparents but not to adoptive parents (Ref. Van IJzendoorn)