Have you heard the saying “parenting isn’t for wimps?” Well, that’s especially true for parenting a child that you’ve adopted as an older child. Older child adoption brings on a whole set of challenges that infant adoption doesn’t. Older children come with a history, personalities, anger and hurt over what has happened to them and what they have lost. They might have attachment issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obstinate defiance disorder, among other issues. They might grieve their past even when it was a traumatic past. After all, it’s all they know and it’s familiar to them. You are not familiar to them.
After the age of two years old, a child is considered hard to adopt. Everyone wants to adopt the infants. Not so with the other children. The older the child is, the more unlikely they are to find a forever family.
We adopted our two youngest boys at the age of 5 (they are 8 months apart) and they had both already been in multiple homes. With our first adopted son, I or my husband use to spend hours the first two years he was home with us holding him securely and rocking him while he threw raging angry fits. He was angry. He was hurt. At one point during a rage when he had just turned 5 and we had only had him a month, he looked up at me and sobbed, “my bones are angry.” That is how angry this child was. All the way to his little bones. Now, at the age of 10, the angry fits are few and far between. It takes time to heal. This is the same child who today had a deep sense of compassion.
So, why if older children come with all these issues would anyone want to adopt an older child? Because they also come with much joy and love (don’t expect them to love you at first) and laughter. At the end of a rough day, when I’m asking myself the question, what have I done, one of my boys will come up to me and say, “I’m so glad you’re my mom.” There’s my answer.
Adopting an older child isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes tough skin, a willing heart, a for better or worse attitude, a good sense of humor (or warped sense of humor) and commitment to your child/children. Nothing less. If you decide to adopt an older child expect hard times and storms. However, look for the rainbow after the storm. You’ll find it!
Have you adopted an older child? We’d love to hear from you and love you to share your experience with us.