Q: I am considering toddler+ adoption (3 ½ to 4 year old girl). What are the risks and benefits? I have one older child (girl-age 10).
A: So much depends on you and the child, but generally the benefits to adopting an older child/toddler include:
- You will have more information about the child’s personality and interests and can choose a child that will fit well with your family.
- You will probably have more medical and developmental information on the child enabling an IA doctor to give you a more realistic picture of her health risks.
- The child will be able to take care of herself better than a younger child.
- No diapers and bottles.
- Fewer years of daycare expenses.
- The child will be able to fit into your lifestyle sooner. (Go skiing, go to movies, garden, and help with chores.)
- You still get to experience lots of first: first taste of ice cream, first Christmas with presents, and first bike ride.
- Your child may be able to share his past with you—the good, the bad, and the ugly—allowing you to help him integrate his past into his present.
- Your daughter may be able to relate more quickly to a pre-schooler who can play and talk (or least will be able to talk as soon as he learns English)
The disadvantages are that your child has a past and comes to you with the baggage of her past. You have no control over the quality of her prior care and often have little knowledge of her past unless she is able to tell you. She will have habits and behaviors already established, some good, and some not so good. Also, if you are adopting a child from another country, the child will have already established fluency in another language and will have to learn English. This transition time when you and the child are not able to communicate can be frustrating to both parent and child since you are both used to being able to communicate.
Check out the following Creating a Family resources on toddler adoption:
- The Ups and Downs of Adopting a Toddler (1 hour radio show)
- The Topsy Turvy World of Toddler Adoption (blog)
- Toddler Adoption and Attachment—Good News (blog)
- Toddler/Older Child Adoption Booklist
Let me put in a plug for adopting a child from the US foster system. There are likely not a lot of healthy preschool age children outside of sibling groups, but it is still possible to find a 3-4 year old especially if you can accept certain special needs. The adoption is free and monthly adoption assistance may even be available to help with living expenses until the child is 18. To see some of the US children in foster care, visit AdoptUSKids
Image credit: [abdulrahman]_kazim
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