Development and Psychopathology

Special Section Articles

Infants' responsiveness, attachment, and indiscriminate friendliness after international adoption from institutions or foster care in China: Application of Emotional Availability Scales to adoptive families

Linda Van Den Driesa1, Femmie Juffera1 c1, Marinus H. Van Ijzendoorna1 c1, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburga1 and Lenneke R. A. Alinka1

a1 Leiden University


In a short-term longitudinal design we investigated maternal sensitivity, child responsiveness, attachment, and indiscriminate friendliness in families with children internationally adopted from institutions or foster care in China. Ninety-two families with 50 postinstitutionalized and 42 formerly fostered girls, aged 11–16 months on arrival, were studied 2 and 6 months after adoption. Maternal sensitivity and child responsiveness were observed with the Emotional Availability Scales, attachment was assessed with the Strange Situation procedure, and mothers reported on children's indiscriminate friendliness. The postinstitutionalized children showed less secure attachment, whereas the former foster children did not differ from the normative distribution of attachment security. However, at both assessments the two groups of adopted children showed more disorganized attachments compared to normative data. Adoptive mothers of postinstitutionalized and former foster children were equally sensitive and their sensitivity did not change over time. Postinstitutionalized and former foster children did not differ on indiscriminate friendliness, but children with more sensitive adoptive mothers showed less indiscriminate friendliness. The former foster children showed a larger increase in responsiveness over time than the postinstitutionalized children, suggesting that children's responsiveness is more sensitive to change than attachment, and that preadoption foster care is more beneficial for the development of children's responsiveness after adoptive placement than preadoption institutional care.

(Online publication January 31 2012)


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Femmie Juffer or Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Leiden University, Centre for Child and Family Studies, P.O. Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands; E-mail: or


This study was supported by Grant NWO 400-03-208 from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (to F.J., M.H.v.IJ., and M.J.B.-K.), Wereldkinderen (to F.J.), a SPINOZA prize (M.H.v.IJ.), and VIDI and VICI Grants from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (to M.J.B.-K.).