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Old 01-19-2009, 03:38 PM
phall0106 phall0106 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Manchester, PA
Posts: 2,492
Tell me about adopting an older child

This past week, Hallboy and I were at the Pennsylvania Farm show and there was a display of the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange. I stopped to take a look, most out of curiousity, but also because Hallboy has always said he wanted a little brother. Long story short, after an indepth conversation with Hallgirl1 and considerable thought of my own, I did some digging a bit deeper and discovered that there are a lot of kids who are waiting for homes--most of them are older, and too many of them are boys. Not that I'm thinking of jumping into anything any time soon, but am giving it some food for thought.

I'd like to know though if anyone has adopted an "older" child (anyone above the age of 5 it appears is considered an "older child"). I know these kids come with baggage (after all, they're not in the foster care system for kicks), but I'd be curious to hear how it differed (if at all) from a kid in the home since birth (either adopted or birth kid).
Old 01-19-2009, 04:02 PM
StGermain StGermain is offline
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Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Toon Town
Posts: 10,351
I have a friend and his wife who are adopting a Russian 12 year old. They also have a 6 year old son, to whom the wife gave birth. The wife is diabetic, and the first pregnancy was dangerous, so they decided to adopt for the second child.

She's small and underdeveloped compared to American adolescents, but seems to be a happy kid. Her parents were killed in a car accident 6 years ago and she's been in an orphanage ever since. They fostered her in a program that brings over older kids to try and find them homes and they fell in love. My friend is over there right now finalizing the adoption and bringing her home for good, so I can't give you much data about that.

Old 01-20-2009, 12:01 AM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: usa
Posts: 4,805
I think it's great that you're thinking about doing this. I haven't yet been in a position to foster or adopt, but it's something I've thought about too and plan to eventually do.

Here's a blog post I ran across from someone who adopted a child at the age of 7 (albeit internationally) that gives some perspective on the special emotional needs that kids who have experienced many losses and instability in their life may have: http://thevoiceofadventure.blogspot....-rlc-blog.html

You do have to go into this being aware that most children in foster care have experienced significant trauma, abuse, and/or neglect, and most likely will need some extra attention and guidance. But in some ways, it could be beneficial to have a chance to go into it having a better idea of what kind of personality and interests the child has than you would if adopting an infant.
Good luck with getting info about this.
Old 01-20-2009, 12:16 PM
Jimson Jim Jimson Jim is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Cincinnati OH
Posts: 519
I have first hand experience as a kid whose parents adopted older children. My parents adopted my brothers when they were 5 and 7 from Viet Nam and Thailand respectively in the 1970's.

My parents were part of an adoption group Friends of World Children or something like that. Many had problems with the adopted older children. Most of the problems started when the boys hit puberty. Problems ranged from acting out, minor criminal offenses to assaults both physical and sexual of their siblings. I would never say that older children shouldn't be adopted. It's important that you consider all the risks and benefits to your family.
Old 01-20-2009, 12:36 PM
Hal Briston Hal Briston is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: A nice chunk o' NJ
Posts: 14,187
Good timing for starting this thread -- my wife and I have a meeting with NJ's Division of Youth and Family Services tomorrow evening to look into the possibility of becoming foster parents for an older child. One of the criteria will be that the child be free for adoption, if down the road everyone feels that would be the right thing to do.

There's a very long road ahead of us in doing this, and who knows, this first step might turn out to be the last one. Still, we're going to take a look and if there is a child out there that looks like would be a good fit, we'd love to be able to open our home and hearts to them.
Old 01-20-2009, 01:09 PM
melodyharmonius melodyharmonius is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 2,796
my little sister came to live with us when she was 9 - she had been in foster homes since the age of about 5.

I loved my sister dearly, but she did have her share of emotional baggage. I couldn't imagine her not being my sister, but I often wonder if she would have not done better in a family where she had the parents undivided attention.

As it was, she was very competitive for affection, had tremendous problems with lying and stealing, seemed to thrive on negative attention, and had a hard time keeping a job past 90 days.

As children, I was 3 years older, much taller and somewhat stockier. My sister would tell people I beat her or hurt her or forced her to do strange things (like making her put scotch tape on her fingers and told her I would hurt her if she took it off). Because I was larger and more tomboyish, people assumed I might be really bullying her out of jealousy. Any comments I might have said as part of normal sibling interaction were tainted with this assumption and I often was made out to be the bad guy.

That being said, my sister and I were actually very close and companionable away from school or church or anywhere public. However, it was psychologically damaging to me to have so many people assume I was a bully - I struggled with it for a long time and was always leery of strangers that didn't know me better. I'm probably more apologetic and quick to please as a result of it.

A similar case occurred with one of the children of the adoptive family my sister lived with right before she transitioned with us. In this case, the boy was the same age as she was and started having tremendous problems with school and began wetting the bed at age 9. The parents realized my sister was doing the same things to him - telling tales and making him out as a bully to her. It was part of the reason they decided to return her to foster care.

I think my parents were not prepared to deal with this on a consistent basis because both of my parents worked a lot and there were 4 other kids already in the family (even though my brothers were mostly grown).

I also think my mom compared us older 4 kids whom she had raised from birth to my sister and expected her to behave the same, but my sister just wasn't trained that way and couldn't seem to adjust. My mom was also protective of me and felt torn between her child by birth and her child by choice. I don't always think my mom handled it the best way she could have, often to my sister's disadvantage.

That being said, I think that is all the more reason why someone who can should consider adopting an older child. Because they, more than anyone, need help.

I would give the following pieces of advice if asked:

1) Carefully consider how much time you truly have to focus on a child's issues.

2) Consider counseling with the child as part of your ongoing process (beyond just the rudimentary counseling offered through any services).

3) Consider the impact of integrating a child into your family, especially with other children in the home.

4) Assume that it is not going to be sunshine and roses at first - especially with sleeping (foster/adoptive children often wet the beds), communication, and acceptance.

5) Do it if you can!

Like I said, in spite of the issues, I will never regret having my sister as part of our family. I only wish she was still alive today (she passed suddenly at the age of 33 from an undiagnosed stomach tumor).


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