by Nikki E.
It is not a word that stirs up positive feelings and warm fuzzies.
In labor, "transition" is that excruciating time period when most women begin to say "I just can't do this anymore".
In adoption, "transition" refers to that period of time beginning the day your child comes home and ending at the point when you feel he is comfortable in his new family.
Transition in adoption can last anywhere from just a few months to upwards of a year depending on whether or not there are bonding "issues" on either side of the equation and depending on how much effort each side expends.
We have adopted children who were 3 1/2, 8, 2 and 15 years old upon arrival to our home. The two youngest were much like babies when they came home. Both were diapered. Neither could speak. They were utterly dependent on Mom and Dad for the meeting of their needs. Bonding is easy, in my opinion, when someone needs you THAT much. I got to hold and bottle feed Ezekiel for many months, looking into his eyes. Kyle was using a sippy cup but I often chose to tilt him back in my arms and rock him while he drank his pedia sure. I hoped, in both cases, I was emulating nursing - lots of eye contact, singing softly, cuddling them to sleep. It was blissful and the bonding happened spontaneously. Of course there were hard moments and bumpy times - sleepless nights, inexplicable crying (me AND them - ha ha) but those early days with my tiny ones were mostly happy and characterized by joy.
Here are a few VERY early pics of Kyle . . .
And Ezekiel . . .
When the child joining your family is much older, transition takes a bit of a different turn. For us, it was marked by some awkwardness, a few misunderstandings, a lot of time feeling like we have a house guest and plenty of "on your best behavior" for everyone involved. Time and familiarity helped bring the walls down but some strategies that I found EXTREMELY helpful in getting to know our newest family member (15 years old upon arrival home) may prove useful to someone out there in "cyberland" who is preparing to bring an older child home.