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ABSTRACT:Infants adopted from institutions experience inadequate care prior to adoption and are therefore expected to show elevated sustained social withdrawal behavior shortly after being adopted. Social withdrawal is expected to decrease as they adapt to their new families. Sustained social withdrawal was assessed 1 month’ post adoption (Time 1) and again 6 months later (Time 2) via the Baby Alarm Distress procedure (A. Guedeney &J. Fermanian, 2001). At Time 1, 22.5% of the infants scored within the clinical range for social withdrawal whereas a significant decrease in social withdrawal was indicated at Time 2, with none of the infants scoring above the cutoff score. As predicted, maternal depressive symptoms and insecure attachment were associated with a smaller decrease in infants’ social withdrawal. High maternal expectations for efficacy were associated with a smaller decrease in social withdrawal. Infants’ temperament, gender, age at adoption, developmental level, and maternal marital status were unrelated to the level of change in social withdrawal. Participating in a preventive intervention was not associated with greater change in social withdrawal. These results highlight the beneficial effect of adoption and the role of maternal depression and attachment security in decreasing sustained social withdrawal among internationally adopted infants.

Expert’s note: This study is interesting because it shows that the ADBB in its complete form can be used by nursery teams and in the follow-up of young adopted children to evaluate their adaptation after being confronted with institutionalization and separation. It also allows to have a tool that detects quickly what persists as a disorder, or what is initiated as a difficulty in the parent/adopted baby bond and thus to be able to intervene very early on in pronounced difficulties. This research can also have a certain validity for the follow-up of babies placed in foster care.