With every adoption, as with anything worthwhile, there are challenges and rewards. Some families are up for the challenge of adopting an older child, feel called to meet this great need, or simply feel that adopting an older child best meets their family’s season of life.
Regardless of why, there are certain characteristics consistent in families who are good candidates to adopt an older child or a sibling group with an older child.
While desire to adopt and become a parent is, of course, the primary characteristic needed, there are some traits which seem to stand out in parents with successful older child adoptions, including:
- Willingness to advocate for your child in many areas of life;
- Demonstrated consistency, day after day, month after month, etc.
- Use of open and clear communication strategies;
- Flexibility and a willingness to adjust;
- Fully committed to the adoption process and journey;
- An active lifestyle or one conducive to the child’s age and needs;
- Openness to learning new skills and exploring alternatives;
- Willingness to actively seek out parenting assistance and supportive services when needed;
- Being technologically adept (smart phones, computers, etc.);
- Ability to recognize that the child’s behaviors are not personally directed at you!
- Ever-present understanding that the child’s past experiences and/or current fears greatly influence who they now are.
Parents who choose to adopt an older child know they want a family, but they also want a child who knows that they need them too. Older children available for adoption have usually voiced their desire for a forever family; they just haven’t found one yet.
When you both know and accept that you need each other, the adoption becomes a relationship based on understanding and acceptance.
You can begin sharing interests and activities from day one, whether those are sports, hobbies, arts, or simply board games. You can immediately begin having fun together-laughing, joking with each other, and building rapport. You both have great hope for the future and are willing to make the relationship a priority.
A parent needs to be willing to make the effort to educate themselves, prepare their support system, examine the school system in their area, be willing to attend family therapy, gather information on agencies and organizations who can help them with parenting and activities for the older child. If your family decides to adopt an older child, it is also important to be flexible with your schedule and lifestyle so a child can enter it and be a true part of it.
More importantly, they need to come into this relationship with love, awe, appreciation, anticipation, excitement, and enjoyment. Adopting an older child is a journey, a developing relationship, and a wonder to behold. It is the opportunity to REALLY positively change a life forever, and more often than not, that changed life is that of the parent.
MLJ Adoptions is a Hague Accredited International Adoption Agency based in Indianapolis, Indiana. We provide ethical, compassionate and attentive adoption services to loving and committed families from across the United States and around the world.
We’ve successfully placed over two hundred and fifty children through our international adoption programs in Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Samoa and Ukraine. MLJ Adoptions believes that every child deserves a loving and permanent family including older children and children with special needs. We also facilitate an Orphan Hosting Program from Ukraine each winter and summer for several weeks.
Our Special Needs Program connects these children with loving adoptive families willing to meet the needs of these special children. We focus on preparing parents by providing education and direct support to ensure that children are placed with families who are equipped and empowered to parent their child successfully. We continue to provide services after placement to ensure that our families are encouraged and supported before, during and after placement.