Table 3

 Asking about attachment

ContextTime in adoptive placement; circumstances of removal from home, etc
Parental risk factorsParental childhood attachment; drugs, alcohol; mental health problems; learning difficulty; anger management problems
Experiences in the family homeCloseness; multiple carers; violence; abuse; parental predictability; physical care; routines (meals, day-night, etc); times of better care; other important relationships; role in family (“parental” role, scapegoating, “favoured child”, rejection); nature of sibling relationships
MovesNumber of moves; preparation for moves; response to moving
Use of closenessDoes he enjoy physical affection? Does he seek closeness? Does he do so appropriately (not sexualised)? Having sought closeness, can he use it? Does he accept offered comfort? To whom, if anyone, does he go if hurt?
Stranger awarenessIs he wary of strangers? Would he seek affection of strangers? Would he go off with a stranger? Was he affectionate immediately on moving in?
Need for attentionDoes he seek attention? Can he share attention? Can the parent chat with a friend or make a phone call? What does he do to gain attention?
Stress regulationDoes he startle easily, show normal fear, mood swings, excessive anxiety?
Emotional awarenessDoes he express a normal range of emotions?
Does he show empathy? Is he kind to pets, dolls, etc?
Does he show temper or aggression? When? How often? Is it excessive?
CommunicationDoes he understand nuance, humour, emotional content of language?
Does he use words for feelings? Does he understand non-literal meaning? Does he read non-verbal communication well? Does he “read” situations?
Body signalsDoes he respond appropriately to pain, cold, hunger?
Does he know when he has eaten enough? Does he take others’ food, eat rubbish, eat until he vomits?
Does he know when he needs the toilet?
Play patternHow does he use toys? Is he inquisitive? Is he imaginative? Does he get into roles—including feelings? Is he affectionate with soft toys, dolls, etc?
DisciplineDoes he accept authority? Does he allow others to take control?
Does he want to please? Excessively? Does he respond to praise? How does he react to discipline? Does he show conscience or remorse?
Behaviour in public placesWhat is he like out in public? Does he stay with the parent? If he runs off, does he look for or return to the parent?
SafetyDoes he have a concept of safety? Does he let this regulate his behaviour?
Peer relationshipsHow does he get on with other children? Can he cooperate? Can he share, or lose? Does he try to control others? Does he bully? Is he bullied? Does he understand social “rules”?
ConcentrationAre there ADHD type features?
ChangeHow does he react to change in routine, unexpected events etc?
Self-esteemCan he cope with teasing? Does he accept praise? Does he show pride?