Opinions on age differences re: foster care — The Bump
Adoption

Opinions on age differences re: foster care

Hi, We are currently waiting for our background checks but I am wondering of others' opinions on age differences. I have a 2-in-august daughter and we were originally thinking a much older child/teenager would be best since they are a bit more independent physically/needy in a different way than a toddler. However, one agency we talked to said that they wouldn't want us to have a teenager with a toddler and that an elementary school aged child would be best. We are hoping to adopt in the future, possibly two - three years from now so at this point, it would strictly be fostering. Thank you for all thoughts.

Re: Opinions on age differences re: foster care

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  • @Marshmallowevening brings up a very good point about vulnerability of your toddler and understanding the foster's background.  Also, if you have two kids in the house with such a wide range of ages, it can make it more difficult to plan activities that are fun and stimulating for both children. 

    We are hoping for a bio little one soon, so we chose foster ages up to 4 years old.  While initially we know there will be more chaos, we think long-term it's a better fit for the family.

    That said, if you bring the right child into your home, with love and patience it should work out.

     

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  • I think preserving birth order in adoption is a much bigger concern than it initially appears.

    Adoption/foster professionals often cite jealousy and the child's understanding of how they fit into the home as a reason for preserving birth order, but there's a much bigger side to it that they often choose not to discuss when not relaying the circumstances surrounding a specific child.  Many older children who are in foster care or are available for adoption have experienced trauma in their lives.  This could be as simple as losing caregivers through death, but more often means witnessing or being the victim of abuse, neglect, or other violent behavior.  Children who have suffered these types of trauma often act out those types of behaviors on younger children around them.  This can happen even if they are getting all the emotional and psychological help they need; it's often part of their process as they learn to cope with what happened to them/what they witnessed.  So in the minds of many adoption professionals, placing an older child, who may have had a turbulent past, in a home with young children is not ideal in most situations.

    Having adopted "older" children, I can attest that it the whole family goes through a significant and difficult transition period.  Knowing a child's past can somewhat prepare you for some of the issues you may face, but it is common for unforeseen behaviors to crop up as the child processes past traumas (some of which may be known only to that child) and adjusts to the concept of being loved unconditionally.  Things in foster/older child adoption situations always get bad before they settle in to normal, and how that process will go with a child you know little about is a big unknown.

    Because of these facts, I would urge the greatest of caution before bringing an older child into your home while raising your daughter.  It can work; I know of a few families that made it work beautifully, but in most those cases, they knew the child a while before agreeing to foster them or the children lived together in previous homes/situations.  If this is a route you are really set on, please do so only after learning all you can about the child, their past, their potential behaviors, and any possible triggers they may have.

    I wish you the best, whatever you decide.


  • CS said it better than I ever could have. Many of the Child of the Week sort of listing I see for tweens and teens specifically say they do best in a family where there are either older children or no children already in the home. My assumption, like CS said, is that there is trauma to be worked through that can manifest as acting out on a younger child in the home. As CS said, it can be done, but I would go into it with eyes wide open.
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