Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Question from a Parent about Transition Times

My question is about transition. Here they like to drag it out upwards of 6 months (at least for school age kids). What is a good transition time for kids? Does it depend on age?


Blogger Phyllis said...

Super question. I think geography and age are important considerations in making a transition plan. Personally I don't like the longer transition times because I think it creates split loyalties for some kids and they can feel like they don't really belong in either household.

Traveling to another state to attempt to bond with a child/children in a hotel/motel seems "false". How can it truly represent how a child will fit into the family if visits are conducted under artificial circumstances?

When we were foster parents children were moved in or out of our home sometimes with less than an hours notice. And we were rarely provided with the same level of information we receive for a pre-adoptive placement. While I don't necessarily advocate sudden placement moves I think its vastly preferable to a transition plan that stretches into many months.

I'm eager to see other comments on this important topic.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Gina, an adoption worker in TX. writes:

Mine are done on a case by case basis with the kids. I have found with my toddlers that it helps the foster parents in the transition when it is a slow transition…..about a month. I think out of state placement with school age kids should consists of a visit in the state the kids reside, and the kids need to visit the adoptive family’s home. I think some workers move too fast with the pre-placement visits, and that is reason for some of the disruptions. If the adults stopped and thought about how they would feel moving into a stranger’s home, they would have better results with their kids. I do think 6 months is too long.

6:17 AM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Jodi comments:

I think that every situation is different and we need to consider the child first and foremost. I am currently working with a child who was adopted when he was six months old. He is now thirteen and his adoption has been terminated. His adoptive mother has mental health issues and this played a big part in the termination. He is very angry and scared and it will take him a long time to trust. I think a long transition is very appropriate for this child and we need families that are willing to be patient and become a friend with a child without scaring the child that they may make it a long term commitment. He does not trust anyone right now and does not believe that adoption is forever because it was not for him. Someone needs to help this child to develop trust in them and then work towards adoption.
In other cases it obvious that a quicker transition is appropriate.

Jody L. Poultney, MSW
Post Legal Adoption Specialist

6:19 AM  
Blogger Think Tank Moderator said...

Laura, a social worker in Washington state, writes

I believe that a good solid transition for a child who can comprehend that a move for an adoption is about to take place should take about two to three weeks maximum. The first step is for the child’s social worker to meet with the child and to have a “Moving Book” all prepared that includes pictures of the new family, the home, the pets, the other children in the family, the parents, etc., (we have a copy of a cute fill-in-the-blanks, add pictures, type book that we use). The social worker tells the child about the family and why she or he selected this family and why she or he thinks they are a good match for this child (this must be done by a professional). The child is given the book to keep and to take back to their foster home to read and look over that night. It is essential that from this point on there will be daily contact of some sort throughout the duration of the transition between the child and the adoptive family. The very next day, the social worker picks the child up and takes him or her to a neutral setting to spend no longer than a half hour meeting the new adoptive parent(s) (only the parents). This often occurs at a park, McDonalds, or a zoo or other very neutral setting. After the brief meeting, the child and social worker sit down and process the visit. The very next day, if circumstances permit, the family comes to where the child is living and may have lunch and see the child and see the child’s room and toys and belongings, etc., and spend more time getting acquainted (this visit may include the adoptive siblings). The following day, the child goes to the new family’s home for the first time and spends a half day or so, having lunch and seeing the home and the pets and the new room and the other children, etc. From this point forward, the transition follows a formally outlined and detailed schedule of visits that may include visits with one or both adoptive parents at school or at daycare or in the home or whatever is agreed upon in advance. It may include phone calls if physical contact cannot occur on a given day but some kind of contact must occur. By the weekend, you may want to have the first overnight visit, but it should be short; perhaps it could be Saturday from 4:00 PM to Sunday at noon. The following weekend may be for the whole weekend. The move-in date should already be set. I tell everyone in advance, if things are going smoothly, you will call me and try and rush the schedule and accelerate the move-in date and I will refuse. The transition must take its natural course to work appropriately. Before the move, it is imperative that there be the celebration in the old home and the time for good-byes. The night before the move is the only time we have no contact with the new adoptive family. We have the foster family have a party and celebrate the success of this child’s future. Our best case scenario is that everyone has been working together and the child is excited and everyone is celebrating together and the next day is filled with many hugs and kisses and smiles and promises to keep in touch. While I don’t know the circumstances in the case mentioned, I would not advocate a six month transition. It is frustrating for all, does lead to divided loyalties, and the only case I have seen where there was a long transition, the child shut-down thinking it never would happen. The child’s behavior spiraled out-of control and the family ended up changing their mind and taking another child. School is never as important as finding the right family and getting moved in with them. Children will adjust to a new school if the family situation is right for them. Laura

6:20 AM  
Blogger Treasured Grace said...

I have read all the comments but am wondering what do you do with a child under the age of 1.
I am thinking that a shorter transition is better but how do you go about that?
Any advice is appreciated,

10:56 AM  

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