Helping adopted children cope with change

Any sort of change for children is huge, and with adopted kids even the most minor change can be a big deal.

Last October we moved school, moved house and country when we relocated to Paris.

Let’s just say it’s been one of the hardest times in all our lives, but we are surviving.

Preparing for change:

Before school started in September 2015 we told the kids that we would be leaving London because of Daddy’s new job.

We knew this wouldn’t be welcome news and when it broke it was met with howls, screams and tantrums. Any reaction is better than no reaction – right?

Going back to school in September with the knowledge they were leaving was tough. This translated into perceived ‘bad behaviour’ back-chat, aggression, not paying attention in class, scuffles in the playground, meriting the head teacher’s attention. Let’s just say we cut a lot of slack.

Feelings

Before and since the move we’ve been seeing a range of emotions from anger, fear and anxiety to loss and more recently grief.

Interspersed are sparks of joy and happiness – making a new friend, a finding a new cool park to play in, scoring a play date.

This is a shared adventure. We’re all in this together and there are a lot of new unknowns for all of us:

New home – all of us

New job – daddy

New school – kids

New language – all of us

No job – mummy

Making new friends – all of us

Worry Monsters

Worrymonsters

We employed these little helpers. Worry Monsters, as we call them,
are cool dudes who eat your kids worries and then poop out!

These creatures were a huge help, calming fear and anxiety before the trip. Once the kids could feed their worries get them out of their heads we noticed a palpable change in anxiety levels.

I know I shouldn’t have but I did take sneak a peak, their worries were totally rational: learning the language, making new friends and missing old friends.

Proper good byes

We had proper good byes, a little party for the kids and a party for the grown ups.

Memories

We have memories boxes of our recent lives: school uniform, good-bye cards, pictures of home and well-thumbed life-story books.

Expected the unexpected

I knew they would miss England, London, school, friends and family I was ready for that.

I knew there would be a lot if anger at us – I was ready for that.

I knew they would regress – I was ready for that.

But what I hadn’t expected, and maybe I should have, has been onset grief and loss from their early experiences before they came to live with us. I am dealing with the fall out from this.

What’s life like now?

Paris is our new home for now, and we are all getting used to living here.

The first few weeks were tough. Both kids hated their new school, didn’t understand what was going on, but they have persevered and are making progress with French, and starting to make new friends.

We’ve got through the Paris attacks and we’ve made it through Christmas. Santa has been and gone, and everyone made it on to the nice list.

We are slowly starting to appreciate some of the positives of life in Paris.

  • Chocolate: You get to eat a lot more chocolate in France.
  • School dinners are better: three courses, with entrée, main and desert.
  • Longer lunch breaks: 90 minutes and no rushing. It’s all about learning to enjoy you’re food.
  • Half day Wednesdays: School finishes at 1.30pm!
  • Three hours of sport, twice a week.
  • We see the Eiffel Tower on the way to school

What we don’t like so much:

  • Dictee (yuk).
  • Endless verb conjugation.
  • French grammar and English grammar.
  • Memorising French poetry.
  • Learning to write with a fountain pen in cursive.
  • There’s a whole lot more homework!

But things are slowing getting better. I have found a mum to go running with, we may try and bit of skiing and friends are starting to visit.

Oh and we might get a dog.

Tooting Mama

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