Late adoptions: Attachment security and emotional availability in mother-child and father-child dyads

Claudia Piermattei, Cecilia Serena Pace, Renata Tambelli, Ester D'Onofrio, Simona Di Folco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A growing body of research suggests that a history of neglect, abuse and institutionalization can negatively affect late-adopted children’s attachment representations, and that adoptive parents can play a key role in enabling adopted children to earn secure attachments. Still, only a few studies have explored the quality of caregiver–child interaction in adoptive families. The present study aimed at verifying both the concordance of attachment in adoptive dyads (mother–children and father–children) and the relationship between attachment representations and parent–child interaction. The research involved 20 adoptive families in which the child's arrival had occurred between 12 to 36 months before the assessment, and where children were aged between 4.5 and 8.5 years. Attachment was assessed through the Adult Attachment Interview for parents and through the Manchester Child Attachment Story Task for children. The emotional quality of parent–child interaction was assessed trough the Emotional Availability Scales. Our results pointed out the presence of a relation between attachment representations of late-adopted children and their adoptive mothers (75%, K = 0.50, p = .025). In addition, we found that both insecure children and mothers showed lower levels of EA than secure ones. Some explanations are presented about why, in the early post-adoption period, child attachment patterns and dyadic emotional availability seem to be arranged on different frameworks for the two parental figures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Early online date8 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2017


  • late-adoptions
  • attachment
  • emotional availability
  • adoptive mothers and fathers
  • parenting


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