Have you heard of the “honeymoon period” that often comes along with adopting an older child? It’s the time when the child is first placed in the new home and things can seem “good” and peaceful. For each family, the honeymoon period is different and can last for different lengths of time.
For my family, with both of our adopted children (they were adopted at the age of 5) the “honeymoon” lasted about two weeks. With our first adopted child I was actually relived when it was over. He was so determined to make us want to keep him. He would try to do everything for me. I would find him on his hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor or trying to scrub windows for me. He would try to take everyone’s dinner dishes to the sink as soon as they were done eating. I knew the moment the honeymoon period was over.
What can you expect when the honeymoon period comes to an end? It’s different for each family. Often times, children will regress several years soon after they are brought into a new home. They might not have ever had a mommy figure in their lives. They have probably never been “babied” before. Both my boys did this in their own ways. One of mine took to crawling on the floor and babbling like a baby while reaching his hands out to me to pick him up. To give him the “babying” that he had missed, I actually spoon fed him for a couple of weeks, carried him around (as much as my back would allow me) and would rock him to sleep while singing to him. I allowed him to be that baby as long as he needed to. He needed to see that I could and would be his mommy.
They will also fully expect you to decide to send them away and will test you repeatedly to prove this point. We would continuously reassure our boys that we were going to be their parents forever no matter what they did and that they never had to be in another home. It never dawned on me that they didn’t have a clue what forever really was until one day one of my boys asked me what forever meant.
So, how can you make this transition time easier? For starters, don’t overwhelm your child. They need to bond with you and their new family. For us (and I would highly recommend it for others) it meant no outside visitors, including extended family, for several weeks. Children, no matter the age, need to get use to their new home. We took ours to church, to the store, maybe an occasional restaurant, but other than that, we just stayed at home getting to know each other and starting the bonding process.
Above all, providing your child with unconditional love and acceptance will help you both survive the honeymoon transition. Entering into the adoption with complete commitment will also ensure that you as the parent will outlast the honeymoon period and live to see another day.
Have you adopted and gone through the “honeymoon period”? We’d love for you to share your experience with us.