Adoption Older Child

Eighty-seven percent of all children adopted are under the age of ten. Forty-six percent of these children are under the age of six. Research shows that after age eight or nine a child has a significantly decreased chance at being adopted. It is the perception of challenges of adopting an older child that create this statistical imbalance. It should be understood that every challenge comes with a reward.

Learned behavior:

The first challenge often present in an older child being considered for adoption is learned behavior. When you don’t raise a child from birth you aren’t the one that teaches them and guides them to become the person they are. You as a parent may not find all behaviors and personality traits ideal. Prospective parents need to realize that all parents, even biological birth parents see strengths and weaknesses in their child. Becoming a parent is about unconditional love, the ability to both look past faults and work to improve them.

Lack of bonding:

Another challenge those that adopt older children often face is a lack of the child parent bond. Infants naturally bond to their caregivers as a survival instinct just from every day care, but older children, especially those that have been hurt in the past require more love and attention to form the bonds of trust a parent and child have. However, the reward of giving a child back their faith in human compassion is ample reward for the work required to bond with an older child. It may take time, and a lot of it, to heal the emotional damage an older child has suffered.

Missing out on early years:

While not a challenge per say the third reason many adoptive parents shy away from older children is they worry they are missing out on some part of parenthood if they don’t get to parent through the baby, toddler, and preschool years. While this may be one disadvantage of older child adoption, those stages are what are generally regarded as the hardest in a child’s life from a care givers point of view.

When deciding what age of child to adopt prospective parents should consider all sides, the challenges and their rewards. Adopting any child, or even parenting any child comes with challenges. It’s simply a matter of choosing which challenges you wish to overcome. With an older child do not expect things to be instant or easy, but know that you are giving a child at a statistically proven disadvantage the miracle of love and the blessing of family.

Citation:

Adoption rates by age

http://www.cwla.org/programs/adoption/adoptionfactsheet.htm

Adoption rate decreases after age 8-9

http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/FactOverview/foster.html