Cand.Ed. Kristin Vonheim's dissertation for the degree of Ph.D.

The titel of the dissertation is:

Early interaction in families with internationally adopted children. An observational study of parent-child interactions at age two and three.

The purpose of the study is to develop knowledge about characteristics of early interactions in adoptive families. The study is based on videotaped interactions between mother and child when the adopted child was at age 2, and father and child at age 3. A total of 95 families participated in the study. The observations were scored according to scoring-manuals with guidelines for assessment of parent-child interaction.

Exploratory factor-analysis resulted in a set of factor variables, which reflect dimensions in the parent-child that highlight characteristics of interaction at each age. The results show that the adoptive mothers degree of positive attunement is of great importance for the quality of interactions. The adoptive fathers are task-focused and engaged, but they show a tendency to dominate the interactions on the cost of child-centered interactions. Both adoptive mothers and adoptive fathers display a high degree of accept and tolerance towards their children. Nevertheless the results indicate that it can be challenging to find a balance between child-centered and adult-centered interaction characterized by positive attunement and emotional presence.

The most prominent finding at age two is the absence of positive and negative affect in the adopted children's interaction style. This creates the impression of serious and “flat” children that in different degrees are involved in interactions with the mother.   They display little signs of defiance, anger or frustration. Protests against maternal instructions are mainly displayed through passive resistance by ignoring the demands and encouragements that are given. By the age of three, the adopted children generally give an impression of adjusting to paternal demands and expectations. They appear to be very compliant and “easy to deal with”.

The study shows that there are areas within the adoptive parents interaction style that can be strengthened in order to promote positive processes of interaction. Interventions with focus on awareness and knowledge about adopted children’s experiences and needs prior to adoption, as well as video based interventions, may contribute to the establishment of a realistic and caring platform for interaction.


Information in Norwegian:

Publisert 23. sep. 2013 13:40 - Sist endret 23. sep. 2013 13:40