>Turn-keys: Transitions

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 Photo by Danielle, from Domodossola, Italia, from Wikimedia Commons

Ok, so I’ve written about a couple of turn-keys in adoption adjustment, here, and here, and here
There is another key in the process of adjusting in an adoption.  {Now, if you haven’t adopted older kids, a lot of this might just be gabble to you…I know.  And I will put up this disclaimer…this will be disjointed due to my hard to pin down thoughts but also due to the assault on my mind from allergies, and my muzzy head which swings back around to my meandering thoughts. Fair warning.  But if you have adopted older child, I think you will probably understand what I’m talking about.}
It’s a player in all adoptions but I’d say, in my experience, it is a very BIG player in older child adoption.   And really, you could quite fairly say it’s more of a pass key than a turn-key.  But it is a turn-key in that I don’t think you get in, make progress, continue to connect, without this:
Transitions.

Another simple term.
Transition.
To go from one state to another, one place to another, a change on some level.
Transitions are hard.
Heck, transitions mean change and change can be hard on all levels, for any or all of us.
Lots of kids have problems with change, transitions, big or small.
How often have you had to give the “five minute warning” that it’s gonna be time to go?
Like, every day, right?
Right then, you see what I mean. 

In adoption adjustment, that term comes in all shapes and sizes and forms.
Because adoption is pretty much NOTHING BUT transition.  
It’s all transition, all the time.
Whew, no wonder it’s hard!
No wonder we are all so tired!

Of course there are all the obvious, literal transitions:
from the past to the future,
from then to now,
from first family to second,
to new ways,
new families,
new language possibly,
new culture,
new city and country,
new place, new people.
With no time out to breath the familiar.

But the transitions that are the turn keys, the ones that open the doors or close them shut, are usually the emotional transitions.  Yeah, swinging emotions and moods. And those, well, those are complicated.

The parent trying to help a newly or recently adopted child, especially an older child, adjust faces a steep and swift learning curve for navigating these emotional transitions.  And there are NO books or articles or experts who can guide  you precisely through them.

But those emotional transitions, the swings, pack a wallop.
And I guess the reason I want to post on it is that it’s just SO easy to get blindsided by them.
By which I mean, and this is one of those keys:  Transition comes at a cost.

I think that it is best to know that MOST of the time, it seems, one step forward, or two, or more, will almost always be followed with the two step cha cha back.
Sometimes giant steps backwards, sometimes, if you’re lucky, only small ones.
But those steps aren’t only simple regressions, they can be emotional spirals of grief or anger or dark deep untouchable mood or acting out.
Because that’s how it plays, it seems.

Maybe those steps forward, are just kind of so scary, way deep down where it can’t be touched or explained completely, that the only thing that makes sense somehow is to follow the trigger, ride the swing down.
It’s primal reaction in a way.
It can’t be just halted.
If it could, oh I think, I know,  all of us would.
Halt it.
But it can’t.
It seems that it has to be moved through.

And it’s in the moving through it, the swinging through it, that the healing comes. 
Hard to remember…but it is.
That’s why it’s a key.
A passkey AND a turn-key.
Emotional transition.
Without that emotional, moving, transitioning, through it, they can’t get beyond it.
It will snag you, them.
It has to be passed through and over and beyond.
But sometimes it has to be done again and again.
Yes, swung through again and again.
Yes, it’s exhausting.
For the them, for you, for everyone.

Luckily, a key is made of strong stuff.
And it works to turn those locks, to tumble them…as many times as necessary.

Then, at some point, different for each emotional scar or hard place, for each child, that key finally turns, tumbles open that lock for good.
The swinging can stop.

We aren’t there yet on most of these transitions.
We are still swinging.
But I trust, and pray, that sooner or later (hopefully sooner), that key will turn that lock for good.
And my child from hard places can leap out of that swing, flying free from the spiraling hard emotions.

I’ll be waiting to catch her and laugh with her at the giddy free air of it.

Until then, I hang on tight to the key, holding her, holding on to the swing.
Waiting for that leap.

5 thoughts on “>Turn-keys: Transitions

  1. >You have an amazing amount of wisdom. Thank you for sharing it with us!I've thought a million times about the e-mail's you sent to me after we brought Eli home. You'll never know how much encouragement your words brought me. I remember thinking "You're wrong! He will never sleep!" when I first read something you wrote me. Then, I thought – "wait. How many kids does she have? She must know." 🙂 Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. >We have soon-to-be six year old twins from Ethiopia. Identical on the outside, but not so on the inside! We have been through LOTS of tough transitions with one of them, both big and small. Her sister does much better… who knows why? Still having trouble, but things are better every day. You are so right about one step forward two steps back… you have to learn to appreciate the step forward when it happens, right?

  3. >the thing is – I wish transitions led to solid ground … but they don't seem it always seems to be shifting,shifting … and that is so unpredictable.

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