Adopting Older Children — The Bump

Adopting Older Children

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to this board. My husband and I recently decided to consider adopting after learning that I have a medical condition that will make having a baby of our own very difficult. We always pictured ourselves having a family of four, so we're hoping to adopt 2 children eventually. After researching infant adoption, we decided that we may have a hard time affording 2 infant adoptions, so we're now considering adopting slightly older children (between the ages of 2 and 6). Can anyone who has adopted older children give us some advice on the challenges we might face especially with adopting more than one child.

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Re: Adopting Older Children

  • If you're looking to adopt 2 older children, look for a sibling group of 2. They'll be easy to come by because not everyone is willing to adopt more than one. Older children will come with abandonment issues, attachment issues and/or any other thing that might come with the background they may come from (abuse is a big one).
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  • We have not adopted yet, we are still fostering, until future children in our home become available for take it, for what it's worth.

    We love, that the siblings have each other, that they are bonded in a way that you could never imagine.  It's a beautiful thing. 

    A challenge for us, is we fear if another sibling is born, that we may not be able to adopt that one, after we have already adopted a sibling set.  Other challenges could be, if they experienced the same thing, it could be double the amount of trauma (aka behaviors in the home) issues that you encounter. 

    Our home has been open 90% of the past 2 years because we do accept siblings. Those are harder to place, especially when they have behavioral issues. It will be easier to be placed with a sibling group than a singleton, but it will be more work :)

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  • The thing you have to keep in mind is that older children are available because they have suffered some kind of trauma in their lives. This means that they might have difficulties attaching to new families, and might be dealing with a variety of other mental and physical health issues. Often, they have stored up a lot of anger that will have to find an outlet, and without the right kind of intervention, they may develop unhealthy relationships. Many have learned how to survive by whatever means necessary, and that can result in a difficult homelife because they might not understand what is and is not appropriate in family life and society in general. It's not an easy road, but it is highly rewarding.


    If you are seriously considering this, I highly recommend you read a few books on attachment and older child adoption. Three great books are:


    Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow;


    Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families; and


    Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents.


    For more information about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), I recommend When Love Is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD.


    Another good book, but geared to parents adopting younger children is Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft.


    If you have any specific questions, I'll be happy to answer them. A quick search on my posts for the two years will give you an idea of what our transition was like. I've tried to be really open here and share both the good and the bad. It might make me seem a bit manic, but I think we often only hear about he good, and it leaves a lot of perspective parents either going into situations without enough of a feel for what it could be like, or running away because of the really difficult, "worse case" situations described in the books.


    There's also a yahoo group called "adopt older kids" ( that can give you an idea of what some of these families experience.


    Finally, if you decide that you do want to adopt an older child, I strongly advise that you should have the medical files of any child you are considering adopting reviewed by a doctor who specializes in adoption. Such a doctor should be able to help you not only evaluate the child's health, but also identify other risk factors, such as the child's likelihood of attachment issues/RAD, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), and other risks depending on the child's background. The doctor would also be able to help you determine if the child has any developmental or other delays, how severe they are, and what level of treatment the child might need.

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