Early intervention in adoptive families: supporting maternal sensitive responsiveness, infant-mother attachment, and infant competence

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1997 Nov;38(8):1039-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1997.tb01620.x.


Results from adoption studies suggest that adoptive families may experience special impediments with respect to the developmental progress and outcome of their children. Based on attachment theory, two early intervention programs were designed to support families in the Netherlands with an internationally adopted child. The intervention aimed at promoting maternal sensitive responsiveness, secure infant-mother attachment relationships, and infant exploratory competence. Ninety families with an interracially adopted infant (71 from Sri Lanka and 19 from Korea) were assigned to either a control group or one of two intervention groups. All of the children, 44 boys and 46 girls, were placed for adoption under the age of 5 months (M = 8 weeks). The first intervention group (N = 30) received a personal book, which focused on sensitive parenting. The second intervention group (N = 30) was provided with the same book as well as with three video-feedback sessions at their home. The control group (N = 30) did not receive intervention. In the control group sensitive responsiveness and security of attachment were comparable to outcomes from normative samples. The least intensive program, the personal book, did not bring about change in mothers or infants. In contrast, intervention effects were established upon maternal sensitive responsiveness, infant competence, and infant-mother attachment in the group that received both the book and video feedback.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoption / ethnology
  • Adoption / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Korea / ethnology
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Netherlands
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parenting*
  • Parents / education*
  • Sri Lanka / ethnology