Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adopting an Older Child

With all the news about the young child that was adopted and then returned to Russia, parents who have been thinking of adoption might be reconsidering.

Monday morning on WUSA9 News Now, Jolie Perara, the marketing manager for FAMILY Magazine talked about adopting an older child. She talked about how when the child is not an infant, it is very different than adopting an infant and is sometimes a challenge. It is similar to adopting a child with special needs or one that has emotional problems.

Here are some things to think about:

Bonding will take longer.
(Especially if the child looks different than you)
Child will take longer to adjust as well.
You will need more time to devote to the child.
You may have more doctor appointments and need counseling.
Your child may need tutoring and help with school adjustment.
Your routine is going to change dramatically.

If you adopt an older, special needs, or troubled child, many may come with bad habits and emotional baggage. Certainly the bonding time may take longer. It may also take longer if the child looks a lot different than you do or than what you expected. This applies to infants as well. It takes time to get used to these things. You might take one step forward and two steps backward some days. Don’t let the guilt set in. Loving any adopted child is sometimes a challenge. You can still provide for him and nurture him just the same while both of you adjust.

Whether you are considering an older, special needs, or troubled child, consider carefully if your schedule and lifestyle are flexible. Adopting a child who needs extra time, attention, and care will mean a change in your routine. You may have doctor appointments, therapy sessions, counseling sessions, and school conferences on a regular basis. Problems occur unexpectedly causing sudden changes in plans.

Whether you have a specific child in mind, or are waiting for a referral, here are some things to do in advance.
--Find out all you can about the child. What is known about the child? What information is missing?
--Line up your medical, counseling, and educational services. Most communities have preschool programs for children with special needs ages three and four or who are at high risk.
--Line up your own support team. Do you have family members or friends that you can call when you need a break or need help?
--Look for support groups. You may want to join an adoption support group or a support group for children with special needs. Your local social services office or pediatrician should be able to help you find what you need.
--Look for books about adoption at your local library. Find ones both for yourself and for your new child.

Older adopted children often experience a “honeymoon” stage after placement in an adoptive home. This is followed by a testing period, accompanied by feelings of grief and loss for whatever home or family they once had. They may experience periods of depression or rebellion. Often individual therapy is necessary to deal with issues of separation and loss and family therapy may be useful, also.

Although adopting an older child is difficult, adding to your family and enriching the life of your new child is rewarding. Whatever the age and background of your adopted child, love, patience and flexibility are the keys to success.

Happy Parenting,

1 comment:

  1. I've been checking several family magazines but so far only Family magazine tackles family issues like this which can really help a lot of people. My brother is considering adopting a kid and his wife and him doesnt have any idea how or what to expect about the adoption. What i did was showed them some articles that tackles about this kind of issue...