Every child has specific emotional and physical needs. It is important to understand that an older child will enter your home with additional needs based on their history prior to joining your family. Don't let this scare you away from older child adoption, but just understand a traumatic history will more than likely be a need you will journey with your child through life.
Through no fault of their own, most older children who are available for international adoption were born with a fixable special need, one that can be easily corrected under the right medical supervision. However, because of financial circumstances or cultural mores within their country, they are considered undesirable. Undesirable! Trust us when we say this is so far from the truth!
Do your research:
•learn about their medical condition and future treatments
•call future providers and ask questions about what treatment could look like
•find support groups of parents who also have children with your child's special needs
•reach out to your insurance company and familiarize yourself with the coverage your child may require
•locate therapists in your area who specialize in adoption
•talk to your local schools to see what accommodations will be necessary, if any for your child's special need
Don't be scared away. Doing this ahead of time automatically elevates your status to advocate for your child alongside the title of parent.
How Do I Connect with My Adopted Child’s Heritage and Culture?
For an older child, their heritage and culture have been a significant part of their identity. You shouldn't attempt to change this part of the child but instead embrace it. When possible, immerse yourself in their culture whether that be through cultural camps related to their heritage, community events celebrating the foods and essence of their native land, and language classes so you can familiarize yourself with their native tongue, to name a few.
How to Build Trust With An Older Adopted Child?
Before building trust with a new child, it is extremely important to listen to that child. This way you understand their sentiments and open a two-way line of communication.
It is easy for most children who have gone through traumatic loss and are in the adoption process to be anxious, feel isolated, and have trouble relating to others. Patience and understanding is a key component. Sit back. Observe. Notice the nonverbal cues too. Create a consistent and safe environment that provides not only affection but honesty and care as well.
Sometimes, Blessings Come in Twos, Threes, and Even More
Sibling sets in adoption are also considered "special needs" because there are fewer adoptive parent prospects willing to take on more than one child at a time.
Siblings might double or triple the responsibilities, but the joy is magnified by that much and more as well. Siblings have known each other for their whole lives. They feel more secure and protected as they have each other as they move into a new chapter of their lives. Sibling adoption is definitely something to consider.
Name Change: Is it worth considering for an older child?
A legal name change is part of the adoption process. When it comes to adopting an older child, consider their thoughts about this change. Older children have already developed individuality and identity and their name is a big part of that.
Most adoptive parents choose to change the child’s last name as a sign of welcome to their family. On the other hand, some adoptive parents are okay with keeping the child’s previous surname to honor their background. Some consider hyphenated surnames, with their previous ones and new ones while others make the surname the child's middle name.
Their foundational years have been spent going by a certain name. They have memories made with their original name. Would they be comfortable with this big change? Consider opening this possibility to them and honor whatever decision they make.
As mentioned before, do not be fearful of looking at an older child adoption as a way to grow your family. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. You will amaze yourself with the knowledge and courage gained as you evolve into an advocate parent for your special needs child. It will be perhaps the absolute best journey you will ever take.