No matter how it happens, adding a child to your family presents a significant change to your life. When your adoption journey includes adopting an older child, this event also makes a huge life transition for your child.
Though most foster care systems, including the Department of Child Services in Indiana, support reunification for children removed from their birth home, the reality is that returning to their birth parents is not safe for some children. In those cases, the children may live with a relative or wait for adoptive parents. As of 2016, the average age of a child waiting for adoption was 7 years old.
In adopting, if you feel called to welcome a child into your family through adoption, you may want to plan ahead for the unique gifts and challenges of adopting an older child.
How will you commemorate your child’s birth family?
Though not all the memories of their birth family may be happy, adopted children still often hold high emotional regard for their birth parents. You should think through the specific situation of your child’s birth family and consider whether some members of the birth family can still contribute to your child’s life. As long as the legal and custodial plans are in place, your son or daughter’s birth family can offer wonderful mentorship and support for your child throughout her or his life.
If visitation with the birth family is not a good idea, your child may appreciate a special ritual or tradition to honor her or his birth family on birthdays or holidays.
Is your support team in place?
Raising a family truly takes a village. Your child should engage in therapy or counseling to help address any trauma experienced in her or his birth family. You should also know where to reach out if you need help processing the changes to your role as a parent. While you may have other kids, every child is different. Adopting an older child both gives your son or daughter the chance to grow in a healthy environment as well as expand your horizons as a parent.