Older Child Adoption what you need to know

Within the last forty or so years, there have been changes in terms of children available for adoption and how adoptions are handled. In the past, children who were placed for adoption were basically placed as infants with young couples who were unable to conceive. Today, children who are available for adoption are older children who are in the foster care system as a result of some form of abuse or neglect.

Many of these children are older children who have had the opportunity to bond with there birth parents. Many of them maintain sporadic visits with birth parents as well as extended family members who are significant persons in their lives.

In the United States, the agencies are mandated to allow visitation with the family and to implement a dual plan (adoption or reunification). This process can be very difficult for the older child as they are visiting with their birth parents or significant person and at the same time, they are being prepared for adoption.

It is very important that prospective families understand the issues regarding adoption, loss and grief, visitation and behaviors. Prospective adoptive parents should learn parenting skills as well as behaviors exhibited by the older child who is on referral for adoption. The child may have mixed feelings but lack coping skills necessary to help them deal with their feelings. Adoptive parents must be aware of the fact that older children can sometimes become verbally and physically aggressive. The may become distant at times, their grades may drop and they lack interest in things that they once found joy in.

There are many many behaviors that they may exhibit. The key for adoptive parents is to acknowledge the behaviors and seek professional help if needed. Adoptive parents must be sympathetic and become a listening ear. The most demonstrate that they can be trusted and not share information about the child unless the information is shared with a professional who is working with the child.

Adopting an older child can be a wonderful experience as long as the adoptive parent is respectful of the child and is willing to meet the emotional needs of the child as well as the physical needs. Older children test the waters to assess if the adoptive parents really love them as much as they say. Increased behaviors may occur after the honeymoon period. If there is continued contact with significant persons in the child’s life, the adopted child may pit one parent (adoptive) against
the other (biological). Adoptive parents must reaffirm there love for the child but maintain firm appropriate boundaries. Adoptive children like biological children feel safe with boundaries.

Patience will definitely be a virtue when it comes to adopting the older child. The prospective adoptive parent must realize that not only are they leaving a family, they are also leaving rules and guidelines, lifestyles, morals and other issues that are known to them. In other words, they must give up what is comfortable with them, to learn new rules with their new family.

Let’s imagine your love one, someone dear to you. Okay, I am knocking at your door, you open it and I tell you that I have found someone better for you to love. Of course, you are not interested in leaving your love one. You have no choice however. You must quickly pack your bags, go meet a total stranger, start visiting with them and then you are told it is time to go and live with them. The house is different…..it smells different. The people are different….you are afraid of them. The rules are different….too many to learn. A person they call your aunt comes over, an uncle, a cousin…..too much to bear. You are ready to explode like a soda in a shaken can. Worst of all, there is no one you know and trust to talk to about your feelings.

In conclusion, adoptive parents must engulf themselves in learning more about their adopted child by taking the time to bond. Adoptive parents must create new family rituals that include input from the child. Adoptive parents must be firm, yet flexible…..and willing to go the extra mile in order to help the child feel wanted and loved.