Foster care and orphanages around the world are full of older kids needing families. Adopting a child over the age of 10 brings with it special challenges and rewards. The following key ingredients will help you succeed.
- Time. You must have the time to spend with an older child in order to fully integrate them into your family. Your schedule must accommodate this extra family focused time.
- Patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you don’t become a family in a couple of months. For every year of age of the child adopted, add an extra month of adjustment. A typical 15 year old will take almost 1.5 years to fully integrate into the family.
- Information. Get as much information as possible on the child’s history before you decide to adopt.
- Preparation. Learn as much as you can about issues facing children who are older at adoption. Creating a Family’s Older Child Adoption section is a great place to start.
- Get buy in. If possible, meet the tween or teen and begin to establish a relationship before they move in. Ask them if they want to be adopted into your family. This is not usually possible in international adoption.
- Build a support system. Before the child moves in line up therapists and connect with other families that have adopted older kids. Your agency can connect you with families or find them online through forums and support groups, such as the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group.
- Don’t divide loyalties. Allow the child to love their biological family. Don’t ask them to forget. They can’t, and they shouldn’t have to feel they are betraying you with this love.
Today’s Creating a Family show on Adopting Tweens and Teens—Special Issues to Consider with Mark Lacava, Adoption Therapist and Clinic Director with the Modern Family Center with Spence-Chapin Adoption Services was chock full of great information on adopting teens and tweens. Listen in if you are considering adopting a child in middle school or high school.
P.S. The Creating a Family shows on raising a child that has been sexually abused that I mentioned on the Adopting Tweens and Teens—Special Issues to Consider show were:Ursula Le Guin