3 to 4 Years
The 3-year-old asks, "What's that?" The 4-year-old adds, "Why?" In this social stage of learning how to cooperate with other children, friends gain importance. It's a time of growth from depending solely on a parent toward counting on other adults too; it's less scary now to be away from Mom or Dad. Dramatic play bears significance at this age: acting out and dressing up as a firefighter or an ambulance driver, trying on different roles. Young people now look at their small world and puzzle out their place in it, starting with family -- which raises unique issues for young adoptees.
Reaction to adoption issues at this age can show up as anxiety. Children are questioners now, figuring things out: If I left here and came there, then is this home, where I'm really going to stay? Unsure, they might not want to learn the answer, so they may refuse to go to school or to sleep; they could experience night fears or night terrors.