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In your experience, do adopted children have an especially hard time with transitions and change?


Tough Transitions

My daughter has greater difficulties with transitions than her friends who were born into their families. If we know a transition is coming, we prepare. During the last week of school, she takes her camera to school and adds “good-bye” pages to her lifebook. When we moved, she put names, addresses, and phone numbers in a book, and she continues to write and send e-mails to her friends.
The Price Family, Indiana

Our older daughter, who is nearly seven, takes change in stride. But our younger daughter, who is three-and-a-half, does not deal well with change. A new teacher, a move to a new home, or taking a different route home from day care invariably upsets her. We have tried to introduce change here and there to show that it does not have to be bad. Now, when we take a detour, she will point it out to us, but she will not dwell on it for weeks.
Shannon Bringolf, Athens, Illinois

When I went to put my daughter to bed after the last day of second grade, I found her tearful. To her, finishing another year of school meant she was growing up; she told me she didn’t want to grow up and leave home.
I do think she is more sensitive than many of her peers. What helped? Nothing more than the passage of time, getting into the summer routine, and talking things over.
Cindy Leach, Strongsville, Ohio

To all appearances, my almost-six-year-old daughter seems to handle transitions well. But over the years, I have come to wonder if her response is a bit too stoic and have observed how she disconnects from those from whom she will be separating—by reclaiming toys, starting an argument, refusing to say goodbye, or saying things like “she’s not my friend any more, anyway.”
An Adoptive Families Reader, via e-mail

No Problem

Transition difficulties are specific to a child’s personality and the way she is parented, whether adopted or not. If we explain in detail what is going to occur or what has happened, our eight-year-old daughter, Marina, is flexible with transitions. She has changed schools, lost a grandmother and a dog, and yet been extraordinarily resilient. Knowing in advance what will occur seems to ease transitions greatly. We prepare her by placing upcoming events on her calendar.
Candace Maxwell, Colorado

I think it depends on the child. Our daughter is eight, and in the last five months we have moved 100 miles and she has changed schools, her home, her whole way of living—and has thrived. She is doing better than her father and I.
Lyn Johnson-Brightwell, Hampton, Virginia

I have been pleasantly surprised by the relative ease with which my seven-year-old daughter, who spent her first two years in an orphanage, handles most transitions. I think her social, “sunny side up” personality helps a great deal. I may have helped to foster her sense of security by keeping to predictable routines and activities in our first years together. She has been able to maintain friendships with a group of children that she met in preschool several years ago, and she is very close to a girl she has known since her orphanage days. I will probably never know what has helped her to manage transitions, but her teachers comment that she handles them better than many children her age.
Nina S., via e-mail

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