This is one area of child adoption that I have no personal experience in. However, I do know people that have gone down this road. It is not without its risks but can turn out to be one of the most rewarding of adoption experiences. This article addresses primarily domestic adoption of older children. Adopting an older child from abroad comes with its own set of unique challenges. These will be addressed in a separate article.
The idea of adoption is one that many people find to be a good match for them. However, most of the time the focus is on infants and younger children. This is so the family adopting them can feel that they are a part of the family from the very start. There is often a long waiting list for these younger children though and that can be hard. At the same time there are plenty of older children out there waiting to be adopted.
You may ask yourself if an older child will have difficulty bonding with you. This depends a lot on what their life was like and who was in their life prior to you. If an older child had formed an attachment to a primary caregiver in infancy and/or remained with a caregiver for some time before being adopted, the chance of that child having healthy future attachment improves greatly.
You may think that older children do not want to be adopted. This is simply not true. They may have trust issues from previous situations but this is not insurmountable. Love alone cannot “fix” many issues that they may have but with the right help and guidance from professionals, it is possible.
Many of these older children have had a difficult childhood to say the least. Therefore they do need a good home for them to enjoy their remaining childhood years. Many of them are in foster care programs due to being removed from their homes or being abandoned by their parents. Many people are hesitant to adopt older children though due to the risk of behavior problems and even learning disabilities.
Yet not all of the older children out there that need a home fit that common stereotype. Those with problems can often overcome them too with the right commitment and encouragement from their adoptive family. If you think that you may be interested in adopting an older child you can contact your local Human Services office. They can explain how you can go about doing so through their program. The laws are different in every state so they can give you the specifics.
“Those with problems can often overcome them too with the right commitment and encouragement from their adoptive family”
If you aren’t sure that you are ready for a commitment like that, you can get involved in the foster care program. Then older children will be placed in your care and you can see if it is an experience you are happy with. There may be certain children placed in your care that you would like to see become a permanent part of your family. You can let the caseworker know this and they will let you know if the parental rights have been terminated or not. If they have you may be able to pursue foster care adoption so that the child will legally be yours.
Being able to offer your home to older children that need adopting is very important. You may not have considered the idea in the past but now it could be something to look into further. There are quite a few advantages of it that you may find you like. For example older children are able to talk so they can tell you what they need and even what their fears are. Should they need counseling to deal with their past you can get that for them and be involved in their treatment.
With an older child, you can also see some of their development. With an infant you won’t know that they are going to develop like they should. Some people are very afraid of dealing with a child that has special needs. When you adopt an older child you can get their medical history and see how they are physically and emotionally. As a result that fear will be alleviated.
“Older children require less hands on care and you will get to sleep through the night”
Older children require less hands on care and you will get to sleep through the night. You may find that not having the burden of child care for an infant is also something you benefit from. You can also feel good about your choice to give a child a chance to have a real home and a real family. When they remain in foster care they will likely be moved around quite often. That can be very hard for them to adjust to.
The adoption of an older child isn’t right for everyone but it could be something you would enjoy. If so, take some time to explore the information about it. That way you can make a well informed decision about what you are getting involved with. There are plenty of great children out there that fall into this category and the would love the chance to have a permanent home. The stability that it can offer will allow them to focus on other aspects of their lives as well. Just remember that no matter how happy you are to have them in your life, to the older child, this may be viewed as just another stop. And change of kind can be scary. So be patient and understand that there will be challenges ahead. But in the end it will be worth it.