Date of Conferral
Tracey M. Phillips
Lacking a healthy attachment to a caregiver and having in-utero methamphetamine exposure have been linked to a variety of cognitive delays, developmental delays, and mental health issues throughout a person's lifespan. It is unknown if there is a relationship between in-utero methamphetamine exposure and the ability to build a healthy attachment to a caregiver. The purpose of this generic qualitative study was to improve understanding of the perceptions of caregivers about attachment efforts for foster children under the age of 3, who have had in-utero methamphetamine exposure. This study was guided by attachment theory. Purposeful sampling was used to select 7 participants who had provided care to foster children with in-utero methamphetamine exposure within the last year. Data were collected through the use of semistructured interviews, which were conducted in-person, audiotaped, and then transcribed. Data was analyzed through text searches of themes, axial coding, and repetitive words. Trustworthiness was obtained through member checking and generating a rich description of the participants' experiences. The findings revealed that many of the participants feel that these children do not respond to their efforts to build a healthy attachment to them. They also felt that the foster children did not process stimuli, such as touch, in the same way as other children; that the foster children found such interactions to be aversive. The findings of this study have the potential to impact social change by assisting therapists, caseworkers, and foster parents better understand the needs of foster children and to create a foundation for interventions to better serve foster children with in-utero methamphetamine exposure.