Adoptive children’s routines are vital in the development of the child. For many parents, routines will be in place which are guidelines; they are flexible. For adoptive children, a simple deviation in routine could cause a huge set back for their stability in that home – care needs to be exercised.
This is not to say that if you hold the child’s left hand instead of the right one day, they will have a breakdown, but each child is different, and often they come with idiosyncrasies that need to be respected.
I am dying to take the boy down south to stay at his grandparents, but we are being very cautious. For him, sleeping in a different room, or even a different bed could send his young brain into meltdown. We have achieved so much with his attachment so far, I would hate to undo our (and his foster carer’s) hard work, with a whimsical trip to my folks.
I posed the question to my twitter friends and got some excellent responses, but it occurred to me that we have to take a leap of faith at some stage with his attachment, if we are going to have any semblance of a normal life.
Indeed, becoming overly cautious could be to his detriment. I would not want to be in a position where I am refusing sleepovers, holidays and school trips for the sake of my own deluded sense of attachment. Surely some form of common sense has to be applied here?
The question is how, and where?
Adoptive children – sleeping routine
Our concern, as I mentioned, is his sleeping arrangements. We are going to Centre Parcs in the summer, and he needs to be comfortable away from home, so that leap of faith I mentioned, we are starting to take.
What I realised is how well the adoption introductions went. This was with great help from the foster carer, but the boy did effectively move house with relatively little disruption. The last thing I want him to think is that he is moving house again, but I have become more confident that he has the capacity to cope with a slight routine change.
What my wife and I decided was to keep one major thing constant, and start preparing him in small steps. The one big constant is us. We put him to bed, we get him up again, and we give him his milk. If we keep this constant, the disruption should be minimised.
Stage one is underway; he is now happily sleeping in his travel cot in his own room for his naps. This allows him to get used to both his cot and his room in small doses. We are continuing to sleep him in his own cot during the night.
So far, so good I am happy to report, although his habit of running his hand across the travel cot mesh, like some kind of prison inmate can be irritating.
The next stage is a nap in the travel cot away from home, this is due at the end of the month, I am excited and anxious in equal measures.
To those who are unfamiliar with adoption issues, this may sound like we are giving the boy unnecessary bubble-wrap treatment, but I would stress the importance of a routine with adoptive children.
All children need boundaries and routine, but to a twenty month old brain that has been exposed to uncertainty, doubt and change, it is essential that he is given some kind of stability from which he can begin to trust the very people he depends on.