Ask AF: Adoption-Related Separation Anxiety?

When is anxiety adoption-related, and when is it just nervousness? The AF expert explains.


Q: My 3-year-old appears to have a higher level of separation anxiety than most children her age. Her preschool administrators believe that it’s related to the fact that she was adopted, but I don’t think this is the case. In fact, when I was young, I had a lot of anxiety, too. What can I do about this?

A: Are you concerned about leaving your daughter at school? Children tend to take cues from their parents. If this is a sensitive area for you, it’s possible that she’s mirroring the anxiety you are feeling. Talking with someone about the situation may help. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable your child will be.

Some schools tend to view many issues as adoption-related and, unfortunately, it can be difficult to change people’s thinking. Perhaps mentioning your own prior nervousness would help the administrators to see that, in your child’s case, adoption may not be the explanation.

You might also ask about arranging for a speaker to talk about adoption during a teacher’s meeting. Many parents have found this to be effective when their schools don’t quite “get” adoption.