Adopting An Older Child

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Why consider adopting an older child?

A good reason to consider adopting an older child is that in New York City alone, more than 60 percent of the homeless population in municipal shelters is former foster children. The price they pay emotionally is high, because they leave the system never being adopted with the chance of a stable existence or family support system.

Statistics found by Westat, Inc., of Rockville, Maryland, showed that 2.5 to 4 years after young people left the foster care system, 46 percent had not finished high school, 38 percent had not held a job for more than a year, 25 percent had been homeless for at least one night, and 60 percent of the young women had given birth to a child. In total, 40 percent had utilized public assistance or were incarcerated.

Even though many states label older children as “special needs” does not mean the child has physical or mental problems. It could be the child has formed a special bond with the foster parents, is a child who is biracial, or has siblings from which they cannot be separated. These children work hard to please their caregivers. They need patience, unconditional love, and supervision. Many states subsidize adoptive parents of foster children and supply medical coverage for the children.

Do the research and ask questions about the older child’s background. Always ask the agency the child’s name, sex, age, reason for placement and number of placements. Ask to talk with the caregivers, foster parents, or group home where the child resided. As with other child adoptions, know the child’s medical history, developmental level and whether the child is in therapy sessions. The agency will be able to disclose, if any, known or suspected dangerous activities the child has been involved in like gang affiliations, fire setting, lies, sexually acting out, or stealing. It would be important to know if the child has any unusual habits, likes, or dislikes. Working with a reputable agency will make sure of the child’s legal status and any religious concerns pertaining to the child.

My sister’s experience in working with foster care children led her husband and her to adopt the children they were assigned after taking care of them for several months. They went through the home study classes and questionnaires. Although they had already raised two birth sons and had two granddaughters, they felt that they could still use their parenting skills to work with foster children. The foster children’s ages ranged from 3 to 14-years old.

Understandably, adopting an older child might not work for some couples. If you aren't in a position to adopt a child right now, please explore the opportunity to sponsor a child through Compassion International.



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