Adopting Older Children

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?"




Re: Adopting Older Children

  • We have had older children through foster care (only up to 5) and have adopted a teen, so I can't really answer your questions, BUT there are people on our fb adoption page that have adopted kids in your age group.  Create a post asking to join, because I can't remember who the mods are who can invite you.
    Married on 3.20.2004. It took 30 month, 2 failed adoptions and IVF for our first miracle. We have had 9 foster kids since he was born and started the domestic adoption process when he was 10 month old, we had 4 failed matches in that time. After our daughter was born we brought her home and spent 2 weeks fearing we might lose her because of complications that came up. But Praise God all went through and she is ours forever! Expecting again after IVF Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    Pregnancy Ticker Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers image
  • 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 books are:


    Parenting 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 pitfalls--especially triangulation;


    Wounded Children, 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; and


    Attaching 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 RADHealing Trust (3 CD set), and Taming the Tiger While It's Still a Kitten (lecture on CD with booklet,  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. 

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