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Adoptiekinderen en hechting - De Knoop

Adoptiekinderen en hechting

"Adoptiekinderen hebben niet méér problemen met hechting en intimiteit"
 

Bron: Volkskrant, 1 mei 2014
Tekst: Ianthe Sahadat (ANP)

Vaak wordt gedacht dat adoptiekinderen op latere leeftijd moeite hebben intieme relaties aan te gaan. Uit onderzoek van de Universiteit Leiden blijkt echter dat ze níét meer dan kinderen die bij hun biologische ouders zijn opgegroeid, kampen met problemen op het gebied van hechting en intimiteit. De hoogtijdagen van de adoptie van buitenlandse kinderen in Nederland zijn vervlogen. In de jaren zeventig stond adoptie voor idealisme, want was het niet prachtig om een verstoten baby of ondervoed weeskind uit Afrika of Azië liefdevol in je gezin op te nemen?"

In de decennia daarop namen de twijfels en de kritiek toe. Want waren die kinderen wel echt ouderloos en hoe pakte dat eigenlijk uit: opgroeien bij ouders die niet de jouwe zijn in een land dat niet het jouwe is? Het aantal adopties nam af. Vorig jaar kwamen er slechts 401 adoptiekinderen naar Nederland; tien jaar geleden waren dat nog drie keer zoveel.

Pedagoge Christie Schoenmaker betreurt die negatieve maatschappelijke kijk op adoptie, omdat ze tijdens haar promotieonderzoek op een heel ander beeld stuitte. Namelijk dat adoptiekinderen zich net zo goed blijken te kunnen hechten als kinderen die bij hun biologische ouders opgroeien. 'De kinderen hebben stuk voor stuk negatieve ervaringen gehad voorafgaand aan hun adoptie, hun basisvertrouwen kan daardoor geschaad zijn', zegt Schoenmaker. Vervolgens blijkt het van fundamenteel belang dat de ouders zich 'ondersteunend' opstellen, zoals pedagogen het noemen: ingaan op de behoeften van een kind, een kind troosten als het verdrietig is, of geruststellen als het overstuur is. 'Het bieden van die veilige basis is cruciaal voor hoe deze kinderen zich als jongvolwassenen opstellen. Een ander durven vertrouwen, je kwetsbaar durven opstellen - het zijn allemaal voorbeelden van een goede gehechtheid.'

Schoenmaker maakte voor haar onderzoek gebruik van gegevens uit de unieke al bijna 25 jaar lopende Leidse Longitudinale Adoptie Studie. Onderzoekers volgen voor deze studie een groep van 190 buitenlandse adoptiekinderen al sinds hun aankomst in Nederland. Internationaal zijn er geen vergelijkbare langlopende studies. De betrokken kinderen zijn allen tijdens hun eerste levensjaar in Nederland aangekomen en komen uit Sri Lanka, Zuid-Korea en Colombia. Schoenmaker onderzocht de groep op hun 23ste, als jongvolwassenen. Eerdere meetpunten waren direct na aankomst als baby en bij 7 jaar (vroege basisschooltijd) en 14 jaar (adolescentie).

Schoenmaker legde de verzamelde gegevens van de geadopteerde jongvolwassenen naast een vergelijkbaar onderzoek over vertrouwen en intieme relaties bij studenten. 'Er bleken geen substantiële verschillen te bestaan. Heel opmerkelijk. Dit is een uniek bewijs dat de ondersteuning van de ouders belangrijk is, ook bij ouders en kinderen die genetisch niet verwant zijn.' Volgens de Utrechtse emeritus hoogleraar adoptie René Hoksbergen was het al wel bekend dat adoptie van kinderen onder een jaar een vergelijkbare hechting kan opleveren. In dat opzicht verbaast de uitkomst van de studie hem niet. Hij heeft wel moeite met de neiging van onderzoekers 'het adoptieaspect te bagatelliseren'. "Je moet niet doen alsof het hetzelfde is als opgroeien in een biologisch gezin, dat is lariekoek', zegt Hoksbergen. 'Elk adoptiekind zal in de loop van zijn leven vragen krijgen over identiteit, zich thuis voelen of verbondenheid. Adoptie is en blijft tegennatuurlijk."