In the USA, the average age of children awaiting domestic adoption is 9 years of age. While babies and toddlers are usually adopted quickly, older children sadly have to wait several years to be adopted, if at all. However, adopting older children can be equally as rewarding as adopting younger children. It simply requires an open mind, open heart, and a slightly different approach.
There are so many benefits to adopting an older child, which sadly a lot of prospective adoptive parents aren’t aware of. Listed below are some of the key benefits you should consider before you rule out adopting an older child.
- No Baby Years -. The early years can be quite the strain on family units and can leave parents stressed and completely worn out. Avoiding this time period can give you the chance instead to focus on building a strong bond with your new child from the moment of their arrival to your home.
- Aware of the Past – An older child not only has a more complete history that can be told to you via caseworkers, but they are also aware of their own experiences and feelings. This means you can work with your new child to discuss, explore, and potentially overcome hurts of the past.
- Healing – Leading on from the previous point, domestically adopting an older child means that through conversation with the child and working together, you can truly help begin the healing process.
- Grow Together – Because they are more aware of themselves and are able to communicate more openly with you, you’re able to work with your child to build trust and form a strong bond.
- Quicker and Beneficial – While probably not your primary concern when adopting, adoption of an older child is usually quicker and easier, and the child will have a variety of financial benefits in place, such as free college tuition.
- There’s Still Firsts – Whilst many adoptive parents want to relish the usual firsts such as first words and steps, there are plenty of first for parents of older adopted children to enjoy, such as the first time they call you ‘mom’ or ‘dad’, or say ‘I love you’, not to mention other social and emotional milestones.
Of course, adopting an older child isn’t without its challenges, and while even young children who are adopted will have their own struggles, with older children these issues are usually more outwardly expressed and keenly felt. Some potential challenges you might face include:
- Fear of rejection
- Lack of trust/scepticism
- Unresolved grief
- Difficulty bonding (on the side of the child)
- Attachment problems
Of course there may also be challenges specific to your child, such as disabilities, mental health conditions, or spectrum disorders such as autism or FASD. All these potential problems should be considered, and potential strategies researched before deciding whether adopting an older child is suitable to you and your family dynamics.
Love Conquers All
If you weigh the pros and cons of adopting an older child and decide it is the best option for you, then remember with love, persistence, and patience great things can be achieved. Remember that love isn’t just shown by words or displays of affection, it is shown through deeds, listening, and understanding, and your child is likely to be far more receptive of this than you realize.