Monday, October 29, 2012

Things To Consider When Adopting An Older Child

My husband and I have talked about adopting a child. We're not really at a point to where we would go through the process, but it's something we'll consider if we're not able to have children of our own. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't mind adopting even if we do have a child, but that's beside the point. If we adopt, I'm thinking I'd like an older child-perhaps a pre- or elementary-schooler. If you are also thinking of adopting a child who is beyond 'babyhood', here are some things to think about.

-You won't have to deal with diapers or toilet training. However, you also won't see first steps or first words.

-Since there are already so many people 'in line' to adopt babies, you probably won't have to wait as long for a child.

-Older children often have traumatic pasts that can keep them from bonding with you and the rest of your family. For instance, a child whose parents were abusive may have a hard time trusting you. A child from another country may not adjust well to your culture, and one from an orphanage and/or previous foster homes may be dealing with feelings of resentment and anger. As you can imagine, this can greatly affect their behavior. Your child may need extra help, which can be difficult and expensive. Sometimes the state will help if you adopt a child from 'the system', but not always.

Also, the love and connection that comes automatically when you have a baby will take a lot more time and effort to develop for a child who has been mistreated or had years of being shuffled from home to home. You and your husband/partner will need a lot of patience and may have to 'undo' some behaviors and values before teaching them your own.

-If you adopt a child who is past infancy, you may know about emotional or medical needs ahead of time. This can be both a positive and a negative. For instance, a friend of mine adopted a nine-year-old with bipolar disorder. He has bipolar himself and, rather than bringing another child into the world who could have the illness that has tormented him, he wanted to give a home to a child who is already here. He is in the unique position of having 'been there', making him an excellent help to his child. However, some parents may not be able to handle things as well.

-As with any adoption, you'll have to consider how bringing an older child into your home will affect your other children. The child may bond with you, but what about other family members? Would they be able to treat the new child well or handle any problem behaviors?

Also, how would extended family- aunts, grandparents, cousins, etc-interact with the adopted child? For instance, I can think of a few people whose parents wouldn't react well if they adopted a child of another race or from another country. This can happen with a baby too but an older child will be more acutely aware of it, especially if it has happened before. While it's really sad that it's 2012 and we still have to think of things like this, it's a very real concern.

As you can see, there are a lot of things to think about when adopting an older child. While it might take a different sort of effort than with a baby, it can still be just as rewarding.

No comments:

Post a Comment