Adopting an Older Child

Many people want a baby when considering adoption. They believe this is the better option. But they shouldn't rule out adopting an older child. Adopting an older child (which in the adoption world is over two-years-old but more often in the 8-plus range) can have its challenges, but also advantages.

The Advantages

· Sometimes a match can be better made. As the child gets older, you get an idea of their personality and interests which can help you in the match selection.

· You know of any mental or physical limitations right away and can deal with them immediately. With a baby you often have to wait for the child to grow older to find out about any problems. Often you can have specialists evaluate childhood history, skills and talents, and milestones before the adoption process so they can provide you with the tools necessary to deal with any issues should you choose to go through with the adoption.

· Older children are more interactive giving you the chance to do bonding activities with them right away like baking cookies, hiking, cycling or planting a garden.

· Many older children are more self-sufficient than a baby would be. They can do chores, eat on their own, dress themselves and play on their own.

The Disadvantages

There are disadvantages to adopting an older child. As the adoptive parent you will miss out on the baby stages which are crucial development and bonding stages for a child.

Often older children will come from either emotionally or physically abusive situations which can make bonding to the child more difficult.

The child might be confused about what is going on and will act out in frustration and anger. Children old enough to have developed relationships with relatives or foster families may have a harder time adjusting and could possibly resist getting close to you.

It may take more effort to earn their trust and prove to them that you're not another person in a long line-up of people who have left them. Extra effort will be needed to teach him or her productive behaviors to replace inappropriate ones.

If your child is especially challenged with issues that aren't easily resolved, you may go through a more strong grieving process where you first deny there's a problem, and then get angry about it before finally accepting it and acknowledging you need to take care of yourself too.

Occasionally you may get resistance from family or friends who may not accept an older adopted child as easily as they would an infant. This will especially be the case if your adopted child is older than any biological children.


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