Caregiver attachment representations and caregiver-child interactions in adoptive and foster dyads.
McGowan, Faith Perez.
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The aim of the study was to assess the relationship between child-specific caregiver attachment representations as measured by the Working Model of the Child Interview (WMCI) and the quality of caregiver-child interactions using the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) in a sample of adopted and foster children (aged 2 ½-9) and their caregivers. Attachment theory suggests that caregiver representations are the driving force for caregiver-child interactions and attachment security in both biologically related and adoptive caregiver-child dyads. Caregiver attachment representations (Balanced, Disengaged, and Distorted) as measured by the WMCI were hypothesized to correspond with the quality of parent-child interaction ratings on the MIM, coded using the Marschak Interaction Method Behavioral Rating System (MIMBRS). One-way ANOVA, Kruskal-Wallis, and post-hoc analyses were completed to distinguish differences in scores between WMCI classifications and three MIMBRS scales (Parent Behavior, Child Behavior, Overall Summary), as well as three MIMBRS subscales (Dyad Social Involvement, Child Task Focus, and Child Facial Expression/Affect). Caregivers classified as Balanced displayed higher quality parent attachment behaviors than caregivers classified as Disengaged; however, parent behavior ratings did not differ between Balanced and Distorted caregivers. Overall attachment behaviors (summing Parent Behavior, Child Behavior, and Dyad Behavior), child attachment behaviors (including task-oriented and affect-oriented behaviors), and dyadic behaviors (social involvement) were not significantly related to caregiver representations. Using exploratory analyses, caregiver-child dyads displayed more optimal dyadic interaction behaviors when the caregiver was classified as Balanced in comparison to dyads where the caregiver was classified as Nonbalanced (Detached or Distorted). Additionally, adoptive dyads scored significantly higher than foster dyads on the Parent Behavior, Dyad Behavior, and overall attachment behavior ratings. This study underscores the relationship between caregiver representations and caregiving behavior for adoptive and foster caregiver-child dyads, with variability in attachment between adoptive and foster dyads.