Patty Cogen, Ed.D., M.A.


1. Language: Use simple, repetitive language for basic daily things and activities. Narrate to your child what is happening some of the time. You can introduce a few simple words in sign language with children over six months to ease the language barrier. Learn a few basic words in your child’s language if you can. This may be difficult if Mandarin is not your child’s language.

2. The plane ride home: Expect your child to cry, perhaps the whole way. Children feel scared and confused. Tell them what is happening, even if you think they won’t understand. Plan to spend a lot of time in the bathroom ( it’s private and no one can hear you or your child). Bring along candy or bags of cheerios to keep little hands and mouths busy. Run the water a lot and let your child play.

3. Arrival Home: Don’t plan to do anything for a week after you arrive home. Don’t have house guests or entertain. Keep visits short, and at your house. Don’t hand your baby around to everyone. Don’t let your mother “take over” by taking the baby to “give you a rest”.

4. Division of Caretaking abroad: If there are two parents, have both do some caretaking(1/3 , 2/3) with the larger share going to the one who will do primary care at home. With single parents, the parent should do the majority of the care-taking while using the accompanying adult to help with all non-child work.

5. Childcare: Your child has had to share a caretaker, most likely with other children. Research has shown repeatedly that in the first three years of life children do better over the long term and in the short term with one-to-one care. Multiple caretakers in larger daycare facilities allow your child to continue their survival modes of behavior: taking care of themselves and not causing trouble. Daycare people will think of your child as “easy” and pay more attention to the loud, difficult American children who expect attention. Think of how your child will feel being placed in a daycare after having had two weeks or more of individual care with you. If at all possible, hire a individual to care for your child in your home.

6. ” Parent Juice” and Your Work Schedule : Children who are attached and who are becoming attached, “fill up” with “parent juice” when they are with you. Birth children, even as old as three years and who are securely attached, run out of “juice” within 4-6 hours. Newly adopted children under three years have less capacity, although they may appear to have more due to their psuedomaturity. It’s tempting to try to work four long days and have three days with your child. But in fact, your child will do better if you work five, or even six, shorter days so they don’t have to wait so long to “refuel”. “Doing better” means, developing a stronger, less anxious attachment, falling apart less when frustrated and when you come home, experiencing less sleep disturbances, and making better progress with social skills and overall development.