Following on from my research into well-being in adults adopted as infants, I have created this video which offers insight into how attachment styles are formed; the history of attachment theory (Bowlby, Ainsworth), the introduction of type D Attachment (Main & Solomon), and how in particular type D attachment often follows a traumatic event.
If you are an adoptive parent, are considering adoption parenting or are an adoptee struggling with your own attachments or unprocessed trauma, this video could be a good one for you to watch to better understand adoptee attachment. It's about 18 minutes long.
Type D / Disorganised Attachment
In 1986, Main & Solomon furthered Bowlby and Ainsworth's work into attachment style. They devised "Type D Attachment" which was defined as 'disorganised' and 'fearful'. The work at the time focussed primarily on children who found their parent(s) to be fearful as a result of some sort of frightening behaviour.
Fast forward to 2021 and we now know that emotional or psychological trauma (e.g. neglect, separation from biological parent) can also create a similar traumatic response in the brain, resulting in the child going on to develop a Type D attachment style in many cases, along with dissociated behaviour.
In my video, which you can see below, I explain exactly how this is set up in the adoptee, but also how this can be reinforced (worsened) in childhood.
How to heal
I discuss a two stage process to working through adoptee attachment issues and trauma response, but essentially this is broken down into two parts:
- Learning how to ground oneself in order to reverse the fight/flight/freeze response to perceived danger
- Creating a coherent narrative to begin the healing process
The healing can be done in many different ways, but usually it's a combination of working through feelings by oneself (self development, meditation, mindfulness practice, journaling), with a competent therapist (e.g. PAC-UK, Carolyn Spring) and with a community of others who help us to feel we are not experiencing it alone. I also recommend this book by Lucia Capacchione which helps us connect with the trauma and heal from within. Self-compassion is a good way to start to release any shame and begin to create a coherent narrative about ourselves.
Whether you're an adoptee, know someone who's an adoptee, in a relationship with an adoptee or parenting an adoptee, whilst it might seem a huge task, please know that healing from this is very possible with the right support and understanding.