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Portuguese adopted adolescents' perception of attachment relationships to parents

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Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


The establishment of emotional bonds is one of the most important tasks of the adoptive family. Most research about attachment in adoption focuses on young adopted children, as opposed to adoptees in other stages of development. The present study aims at assessing the adopted adolescents' self‐perception of attachment relationships with their adoptive parents, by pairing them with a group of institutionalized adolescents and another one of adolescents in the community. One hundred sixty‐five adolescents (55 adopted, 55 in residential care, and 55 living with their birth family), aged 12 to 19, participated in this study. Data were collected using the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment to assess attachment relationships with parents on three dimensions: trust, communication, and alienation. The results showed that adoptees perceived their relationship with their parents in a similar way to peers in the community and presented higher results when compared to institutionalized adolescents in trust and communication and lower scores in alienation. The results highlighted the relevance of family context experiences and suggested that adoption can offer the possibility of building a secure attachment relationship, which is not the case in the context of collective care, as happens within institutionalized care.