Has anyone ever adopted older children? 7 to 10 yrs old?
I'm interested to hear what your experience has been. I'm having those moments of worry such as "Can I be a mom to a 10 yr old?"
My husband and I adopted two boys from Peru. My oldest, M, was legally 7 (although biologically probably 9.5) when he joined our family in 2010. My younger son, J, was 5 at the time of his adoption in March of 2012.
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
the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow -
This book is the one that I always recommend first to parents adopting older
children. It really helped us understand what we were dealing with and
how to best approach it. It can be scary, because they talk about really
bad cases, but it was so relatable and helped us avoid many
Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families - This book was the first that really captured
how I felt. It's more about the impact that raising a hurt child can have
on the rest of the family, and was very honest. I couldn't believe that
the emotions I felt were actually being written about so openly;
in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents.
For more information about Reactive Attachment Disorder
(RAD) and understand children with attachment difficulties, I recommend When Love Is
Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD, Healing
Trust (3 CD set), and Taming the Tiger While It's Still a Kitten
(lecture on CD with booklet, https://www.attachment-store.org/taming-the-tiger-while-its-still-a-kitten.html).
They really helped me get the full understanding of the child's mentality as
they go through the process. I
personally felt that the techniques were too heavy-handed, but that's likely
because I wasn't dealing with a child who had RAD. Still, the insight
into their fear and how they act and manipulate relationships because of it was
invaluable in understanding my sons.
These books/CDs really made me feel like I had a better understanding of
what they had to go through, how they were going to do it, and why they were
acting the way they were. It made me
feel more in control, because I knew what we were going through was normal, I
wasn't completely messing up, and that this was all just part of the process
they had to go through.
If you have any specific questions, I'll be happy to answer
them. A quick search on my posts for the last 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. These evaluations are not fool-proof, but will give you the
best idea of the child's prognosis based on the available information.
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.