Enhancing Parenting Quality for Young Children Adopted Internationally: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2020 May-Jun;49(3):378-390. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2018.1547972. Epub 2019 Jan 16.


Children adopted internationally are often dysregulated biologically and behaviorally due to prior experiences of institutional care or caregiving changes and thus are in need of enhanced parental care. The present study assessed whether parents randomized to receive Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC) demonstrated significant improvements in parenting quality when compared to parents receiving a control intervention. Participants were 120 internationally adopted children and their adoptive parents. Sixty-three (52.5%) of the children and 113 (94.2%) of the primary caregivers were female. Children were adopted from several countries and predominantly from China, Russia, South Korea, and Ethiopia. The majority of parents identified themselves as White/non-Hispanic (95.0%). At the start of intervention, parents ranged in age from 26.2 to 51.1 years old (M= 39.7, SD = 6.0), and children ranged in age from 6.8 months to 48.4 months (M = 21.9, SD = 9.0). Sensitivity (i.e., contingent responsiveness to a child's cues), intrusiveness (i.e., physical and/or verbal behavior that interferes with a child's autonomy), and positive regard (i.e., positive affect expressed towards a child) were assessed at preintervention, immediately postintervention, and at annual follow-up visits. Parents who received ABC showed better parenting quality at postintervention than parents who received a control intervention, and these effects persisted at a 2-year follow-up. Findings add to the growing evidence that ABC improves parenting abilities, extending findings to adoptive parents and demonstrating that improvements in parenting quality were sustained several years after completion of the intervention. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00816621.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Adopted / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Object Attachment*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / education*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Republic of Korea

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00816621