*Insecure Attachment/Dependency Bonding*

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PattyB

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Aug 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/5/97
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Identifying Insecure Attachment and Dependency Bonding
in Adopted Children

by Cathy Helding


(For the sake of readability, the male gender has been assigned
to the child in this article. Of course it applies equally to
female children, so if you like, just mentally insert she and,
in place of he and him.)

Most adoptive parents are aware of the importance of attachment
to a child's emotional health. The ability to trust, and form
reciprocal relationships, will affect the emotional health,
security, and safety of the child, as well as his development and
future inter-personal relationships. An unattached child is a
danger to himself and society. He has no sense of belonging to
anyone, nor anyone to him. This results in all of his inter-
actions with people taking on equal significance. He is at risk
with strangers, and a patsy when it comes to peer pressure.
Since his ability to form a conscience depends on being able to
take on the standards and values of important others, (hopefully
his parents), he lives by his whims and unchecked impulses. He
does whatever he feels like, with no regard for others. He is
unable to feel remorse for wrong-doings, mainly because he is
unable to internalize right and wrong. He may be savvy enough to
speak knowledgeably about standards and values, but he cannot
truly understand or believe what he is saying. He may tell you
that something is wrong, but that won't stop him from doing it
if he pleases.

Children who are adopted after the age of 6 mos. or so, are at
risk for attachment problems. Normal attachment develops during
the child's first two years of life. Problems with the mother-
child relationship during that time, or breaks in the consistent
caregiver-child relationship, prevent attachment from developing
normally. There are a wide range of attachment problems, that
result in varying degrees of emotional disturbance in the child.
The severity of attachment disorder seems to result from the number
of breaks in the bonding cycle, and the extent of the child's
emotional vulnerability. One thing is certain; if an infants needs
are not met consistently, in a loving, nurturing way, attachment
will not occur normally. What often occurs is a type of attachment
called a dependency bond. A young child who is abused or neglected,
often becomes attached to the abusive parent out of dependency
alone. His life literally depends on his relationship with that
parent. He is helpless to make his needs known to others, and of
course has no way to meet them himself. Many of the elements of
healthy attachment are missing from this kind of relationship. Yet
the child may look very "bonded" to the parent. Children who have
experienced frequent moves may also exhibit signs of dependency
bonding. Their immediate need for security and safety, forces
them to act out an insincere attachment. They may subconsciously
feel the need to "look good", in order to be accepted and taken
care of.

So how can we tell the difference between a child who "looks"
attached, and a child who really is making a healthy, secure attach-
ment? This question becomes important for adoptive families, because
some adopted children will form an almost immediate dependency bond
to their adoptive parents. To mistake this as secure and healthy
attachment can lead to many problems down the road. Just because a
child calls someone "mom" or "dad", snuggles, cuddles, and says "I
love you", does not mean that he is attached, or even attaching.
Saying "I love you", and knowing what that really feels like, can be
two different things. Attachment is a process. It takes time. The
key to its formation is trust, and trust becomes secure only after
repeated testing. Normal attachment takes a couple of years of
cycling through mutually positive interactions. The child learns
that he is loved, and can love in return. The parent's give love,
and learn that the child loves them. The child learns to trust
that his needs will be met in a consistent and nurturing manner,
and that he "belongs" to his family, and they to him. Positive
interaction. Trust. Claiming. Reciprocity (the mutual meeting of
needs..give and take) These must be consistently present for an
extended period of time, for healthy, secure attachment to take
place. It is through these elements, that a child learns how to
love, and how to accept love.

Older adopted children need time to make adjustments to their new
surroundings. They need to become familiar with their care givers,
friends, relatives, neighbors, teachers, and others with whom they
will have repeated contact. They need to learn the ins and outs of
their new household's routines, and adapt to living in a new physical
environment. Some children have cultural or language hurdles to over-
come. Until most of these tasks have been accomplished, they may not
be able to relax enough to allow the work of attachment to begin. In
the meantime, behavioral problems related to insecurity and lack of
attachment, as well as to other events in the child's past may start
to surface. Some start to get labels like, "manipulative", "super-
ficial", "sneaky". They may begin to be seen as "users", or play
one person against another. Sooner or later the family may decide
that this kid is all "take" and no "give". He "gives" only when it
is to his own benefit. He can seem to be very selfish and control-
ing. On the inside, this child is filled with anxiety. He has not
developed the self esteem that comes with feeling a valued, contri-
buting, member of a family. He cares little about pleasing others,
since his relationship with them is quite superficial. He is a
child who doesn't "wear well". He seems to fit in only when it
suits his purposes to do so.

If his attachment problems are recognized, he can be rescued from
problems that will most certainly plague his future. His parents can
take steps to help him through the attachment process. With help
such as appropriate therapy, particular parenting strategies, or re-
parenting techniques, an older adopted child can make secure attach-
ments within his new family, that will serve as a foundation for
emotional health, contentment, and success in years to come.


(c)copyright 1994, Cathy Helding
all rights reserved
Reprinted with permission

=====================================================================

Patty B... Bastards and Friends...Unite! and Fight!

http://www.openadoption.org/ -*- http://www.AdoptiveFam.org
CUB: http://www.webnations.com/cub
FAS/FAE: http://www.accessone.com/~delindam/ -- http://www.nofas.org
& http://www.nacd.org/

Int'l Soundex Reunion Registry: PO BOX 2312, Carson City, NV 89702-2312

LynnW

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Aug 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/8/97
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One of the problems with this, is that often it is difficult to
discern whether the child has an attachment problem, or is acting out,
testing the parents to see if they will "keep" him. Depending on what
the child has been through previously, this can last a long time. lso,
you can't discount fetal alchohol syndrome where many of these
problems also exsist

> Children who are adopted after the age of 6 mos. or so, are at
>risk for attachment problems. Normal attachment develops during
>the child's first two years of life. Problems with the mother-
>child relationship during that time, or breaks in the consistent
>caregiver-child relationship, prevent attachment from developing
>normally. There are a wide range of attachment problems, that
>result in varying degrees of emotional disturbance in the child.
>The severity of attachment disorder seems to result from the number
>of breaks in the bonding cycle, and the extent of the child's
>emotional vulnerability. One thing is certain; if an infants needs
>are not met consistently, in a loving, nurturing way, attachment
>will not occur normally. What often occurs is a type of attachment
>called a dependency bond.

But they are strongly bonded none the less.

A young child who is abused or neglected,
>often becomes attached to the abusive parent out of dependency
>alone. His life literally depends on his relationship with that
>parent. He is helpless to make his needs known to others, and of
>course has no way to meet them himself. Many of the elements of
>healthy attachment are missing from this kind of relationship. Yet
>the child may look very "bonded" to the parent.

They don't look it, they are.


Children who have
>experienced frequent moves may also exhibit signs of dependency
>bonding. Their immediate need for security and safety, forces
>them to act out an insincere attachment. They may subconsciously
>feel the need to "look good", in order to be accepted and taken
>care of.

This is also called self-preservation. They adapt to whatever
situation they're put into. They must, or they know theyll be moved
again.


>
> So how can we tell the difference between a child who "looks"
>attached, and a child who really is making a healthy, secure attach-
>ment?

It's very difficult. Sometimes the only way you find out is to have it
blow up in your face.

This question becomes important for adoptive families, because
>some adopted children will form an almost immediate dependency bond
>to their adoptive parents. To mistake this as secure and healthy
>attachment can lead to many problems down the road.

But it can be just as strong. Remeber, this is the same bond that they
have given to an abusive parent. But, sometimes, an immediate bond can
occur. There is something deep within the child that touches something
in the parent. It happens.

Just because a
>child calls someone "mom" or "dad", snuggles, cuddles, and says "I
>love you", does not mean that he is attached, or even attaching.
>Saying "I love you", and knowing what that really feels like, can be
>two different things. Attachment is a process. It takes time. The
>key to its formation is trust, and trust becomes secure only after
>repeated testing. Normal attachment takes a couple of years of
>cycling through mutually positive interactions. The child learns
>that he is loved, and can love in return. The parent's give love,
>and learn that the child loves them. The child learns to trust
>that his needs will be met in a consistent and nurturing manner,
>and that he "belongs" to his family, and they to him. Positive
>interaction. Trust. Claiming. Reciprocity (the mutual meeting of
>needs..give and take) These must be consistently present for an
>extended period of time, for healthy, secure attachment to take
>place. It is through these elements, that a child learns how to
>love, and how to accept love.

If they are capable of it.


>
> Older adopted children need time to make adjustments to their new
>surroundings. They need to become familiar with their care givers,
>friends, relatives, neighbors, teachers, and others with whom they
>will have repeated contact. They need to learn the ins and outs of
>their new household's routines, and adapt to living in a new physical
>environment. Some children have cultural or language hurdles to over-
>come. Until most of these tasks have been accomplished, they may not
>be able to relax enough to allow the work of attachment to begin. In
>the meantime, behavioral problems related to insecurity and lack of
>attachment, as well as to other events in the child's past may start
>to surface. Some start to get labels like, "manipulative", "super-
>ficial", "sneaky". They may begin to be seen as "users", or play
>one person against another. Sooner or later the family may decide
>that this kid is all "take" and no "give". He "gives" only when it
>is to his own benefit. He can seem to be very selfish and control-
>ing. On the inside, this child is filled with anxiety.

Not always. Sometimes these kids are empty inside. They don't feel any
anxiety. They don't really fel anything. It may be hard to believe,
but it's true

He has not
>developed the self esteem that comes with feeling a valued, contri-
>buting, member of a family. He cares little about pleasing others,
>since his relationship with them is quite superficial. He is a
>child who doesn't "wear well". He seems to fit in only when it
>suits his purposes to do so.

But you also have the other type of kid, the one who seems to fit in
everywhere. The chameleon.

> If his attachment problems are recognized, he can be rescued from
>problems that will most certainly plague his future. His parents can
>take steps to help him through the attachment process. With help
>such as appropriate therapy, particular parenting strategies, or re-
>parenting techniques, an older adopted child can make secure attach-
>ments within his new family, that will serve as a foundation for
>emotional health, contentment, and success in years to come.


I disagree. Many ar child has been so damaged that they are simply
unable to truly bond. No amount of therapy or parenting techniques
will make a difference in the bonding - only in the behavior. That is
the harsh reality. It may seem as though they have, and it may look
like he has, but he hasn't. With luck, they will grow into adulthood
with both the parents and kid beleiving they have bonded. However,
with some bad luck, something will happen to show that this bond has
been a fraud, and the kid will "kick the parent to the curb" as it
were, with not a second thought. The teen years are usually when this
happens if it's going to. And, it's aboslutely heartbreaking.


>
>(c)copyright 1994, Cathy Helding
> all rights reserved
> Reprinted with permission

Out of curiosity, is this written out of theory or experience?
..............Lynn

PattyB

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Aug 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/12/97
to LynnW

On Fri, 8 Aug 1997, LynnW wrote:
> From: war...@iname.com (LynnW)
> Subject: Re: *Insecure Attachment/Dependency Bonding*
> Message-ID: <33e9eb60...@news.earthlink.net>
> References: <Pine.SUN.3.96.970805...@voyager.cris.com>
> Reply-To: war...@iname.com

Lynn,

Yes, I agree with you. But, since Mrs. Helding is writing about insecure
attachment and dependency bonding, the issues of FAS/FAE, as with many
other disorders, were not included. Have you read _Holding Time..._ by
Martha Welch? You'll find three URLs with reference to Fetal Alcohol
Syndrome in my signature line(s).



> > Children who are adopted after the age of 6 mos. or so, are at
> >risk for attachment problems. Normal attachment develops during
> >the child's first two years of life. Problems with the mother-
> >child relationship during that time, or breaks in the consistent
> >caregiver-child relationship, prevent attachment from developing
> >normally. There are a wide range of attachment problems, that
> >result in varying degrees of emotional disturbance in the child.
> >The severity of attachment disorder seems to result from the number
> >of breaks in the bonding cycle, and the extent of the child's
> >emotional vulnerability. One thing is certain; if an infants needs
> >are not met consistently, in a loving, nurturing way, attachment
> >will not occur normally. What often occurs is a type of attachment
> >called a dependency bond.
>
> But they are strongly bonded none the less.

I believe that a dependency bond is most definitley a negative form
of attachment. As with children who use nothing but negative behaviors
in order to gain attention from adults/caregivers. Please re-read Mrs.
Helding's first sentence just below this...that type of dependency bond is
NOT healthy, yet it's required for the *survival* of the child (in the
child's view).

I am certain that Mrs. Helding will agree with mnay of your points. I
am happy to forward a copy of this post to her -- hopefully she will
have time to respond. Are you a parent to a child with RAD? (Reactive
Attachment Disorder?) FAS/FAE?


> >(c)copyright 1994, Cathy Helding
> > all rights reserved
> > Reprinted with permission
>
> Out of curiosity, is this written out of theory or experience?
> ..............Lynn

Since Mrs. Helding is the adoptive parent of several teens with RAD,
I can assure you that she draws on both theory AND experience in
writing about these very serious concerns.


Patty B...

LynnW

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Aug 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/14/97
to

On Tue, 12 Aug 1997 02:54:51 -0400, PattyB <Patt...@cris.com> wrote:

>
>Since Mrs. Helding is the adoptive parent of several teens with RAD,
>I can assure you that she draws on both theory AND experience in
>writing about these very serious concerns.
>
>
>Patty B...

Well, I'm speaking from experiencce too. I hold my hat out her,
adopting older kids is tough. No question about it. We adopted 8 and
one thing I learned was that there was always something to learn. That
no one really had the answer. At least that's what I found out. I took
stringest issue about once a kid is past 6 months old they have
trouble bonding. I know too many parents who have found that not to be
true. Regardless, it's a tough road to hoe, and my regads to Mrs.
Helding.

Lynn

KD

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Aug 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/15/97
to

One of my grand daughters came into the family at 8 months, totally
passive, unable to smile, turn over, bond, anything. As she has grown
she has fit the image of the Romainian orphans and we now know she
likely is a drug/alcohol baby and she also has missing parts in her brain.
So, we immediately started by making her look us in the eye when we
talked to her and laughed, etc. It was hard at first, but after almost a
year, she was able to look us in the eye "normally" and now can say a few
words, is learning sign (she doesn't hear things right) and is outgoing,
bouncy and definitely holds her own with her siblings-she is 3 1/2
and is getting some (but not enough) schooling. We will be fighting to
get her whatever she needs to succeed-without the money and medicaid there
is no way the family could get the help for her. Our family did, of course,
adopt her and all but one of her siblings-who also have problems.
(The one was given to another home at birth by the state.)

MrE

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Jun 20, 2011, 12:52:42 PM6/20/11
to
But kids with Attachment Disorder wont bond with a careprovider no matter how many boundies you set with them! Now what is a parent to do? This is a real problem and I've often thought of creating. a support group to teach parents how much they are at risk from these malicious children. Parents need protection too!
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