The experiences of adoptive parents rearing children with reactive attachment disorder : A systematic literature review
Abstract: Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is characterised by severely underdeveloped or absent attachment between a child and a caregiver. Adopted children who have experienced adverse early experiences prior to adoption may have lacked opportunities to form selective attachment relationships and, in rare cases, may have a diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder. The needs of adoptive families rearing children with special needs, such as children with a RAD diagnosis, are unique and it is crucial to understand the experiences of the families in order to increase the understanding of how to provide support and adequate services and interventions that respond to the needs of the families. Previous research focusing on adoptive parents’ experiences rearing children with a RAD diagnosis is scarce. Therefore, this systematic literature review aimed to explore their experiences. After a comprehensive literature search, seven articles that addressed the study aim and met the predefined inclusion criteria were included. A thematic synthesis was carried out to combine the results of the included articles. The findings suggest that adoptive families rearing children with a RAD diagnosis experience a wide range of challenges in their everyday lives, such as a lack of social network support and adequate support, services and interventions from professionals and service providers. Some facilitative factors, such as adoptive parents’ willingness to stay committed to their children, were found. Further research is needed to find out effective interventions to address the complex challenges adoptive families and their children with a RAD diagnosis experience. Study limitations and methodological considerations are discussed.
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