Birth to 5: Growth, Development, and Adoption

Birth to 1 Year

During the first year, an infant grows from being mostly asleep to more often awake, from horizontal to vertical, from receiving to sending. A lot happens in this time: At first, others must lead the newborn to interact, then baby gradually learns how to draw others into play. Physically, infants cannot manipulate things, but with growth come rudimentary handling skills. Likewise, the ability to communicate broadens, with smiles and laughter becoming welcome additions to the primal expression, crying. The prerequisites to life, social relations, and other skills are forming in these first 12 months.

Even very early in a person's life, adoption means change and a loss. Babies react somatically -- bodily -- in their patterns of sleep or eating. They may lack vitality. Infants and toddlers may express forms of grief. At ages 6 to 12 months, a baby's need for primary care is strong, producing an intense attachment to the caregiver. Your baby can perceive the loss of an individual and may go through denial, or exhibit searching behaviors, looking for the previous caregiver. Babies might express their vulnerability, frustration, and anger by uncontrollable crying, disinterest in food or play, depression, or withdrawal.

The transition of adoption -- moving from one environment to another -- represents a mixed time. Because even while the bodily adjustments may feel unpleasant, they combine with the joys of new parents falling in love with a child and the child falling in love with you. Usually, the earlier the change occurs, the fewer or shorter-lasting are the transitional behaviors.

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