There’s something to be said for
adopting an “older child.” They come to you with a distinct history; a personality already formed
in a life before they knew you. The journey is different than when the
adoption is that of a newborn baby.
Tips from Adoptive Parents of Older Children:
“What I Wish I Had Known Before the Adoption”
It’s okay to need help. Many parents, adoptive or not, are ashamed to admit that they might be
having trouble in their family – particularly one that they wanted
so badly. When you find yourself needing help, don’t try to deny
it or handle it quietly on your own. Get help!
Consider the fact that your prospective adopted child might appreciate
(and even need) the opportunity to say yes. Older children needing placement often had difficult situations in their
past – things have happened to them. Some have been abandoned, others
neglected and others mistreated. Some have been removed from their families
or sent off with new ones or placed in group homes. All this is often
done without any explanation or preparation or warning. They don’t
get to choose what’s happening to them. This can leave them feeling
powerless. Don’t let the wonder of their own adoption be one more
thing that “happens” to them. Talk to them about it. Visit
with them and let them get to know you and their “new” family.
Give them the opportunity to say yes.
The most important thing you can do for your adopted child is bond with them. Almost any older child you adopt will have had major interruptions/disruptions
in their world and with their primary caregivers. Many may have never
had an adult that they were able to create a bond with regardless of the
number of adults that passed through their life. Some may even have developed
defensive survival skills to protect themselves from the lack they have
experienced that will make it difficult to generate a bond even when there
is an adult ready and willing to do so. It’s extremely important
that you take immediate opportunities to develop a bond or at least the
beginnings of a bond. When you are spending time with your adopted child
in the very beginning, step in to comfort them. These are the moments
when they will be the most scared and vulnerable. Establish yourself right
away as the one/s they can turn to. Establish yourself as Mom and Dad.
If you need additional tips and hints on how to successfully adopt an older
child, please get in touch with the Arizona adoption lawyers at
Arizona Family Law Attorneys. We are available to answer your questions and address concerns you may
have about your prospective adoption.