Objective The aim of this study was to characterize the role of attachment in adoption, first by assessing the influence of adoptive parents on their late-adopted children and second by investigating the role of children’s attachment on an emotional understanding task. Design On children’s arrival into adoptive families, parents’ attachment was evaluated. After 12–18 months, children’s attachment towards mothers and fathers was assessed. Twelve months later, children participated in an emotional understanding task. Method Parents’ attachment was assessed using the Adult Attachment Interview. Children’s attachment and emotional understanding were evaluated respectively using the Manchester Child Attachment Story Task and the Test of Emotion Comprehension. Results A correspondence of 80% (security vs. insecurity) and 60% (security vs. avoidant or ambivalent insecurity K = 0.40) between mothers’ and children’s pattern of attachment was found. A secure state of mind in both adoptive parents was a protective factor towards children’s attachment disorganization. Finally, there was a significant association between children’s security of attachment and their performance on the emotional understanding task. Conclusion Adoption appears to be an intervention that assures the adoptive child an opportunity to catch up on emotional development and to partially resolve prior traumatic attachment experiences; adoptive parents play a central role in the emotional adjustment of their children.
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