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Three Fantastic Reasons To Consider Adopting Older Children

Although some parents choose to adopt children of a specific age, others are less concerned. In fact, for many adoptive parents, the primary concern is that the child be in need of a home and a good fit for what they are able to offer. Unfortunately, the fact that many adoptive parents don’t want to miss infancy and toddlerhood means that older children can sometimes be more difficult to place. If you’re in the process of deciding whether or not adopting a child is right for you, read through these great reasons to choose an older child or teen. 

The Most Important Reason: They Really Need You

It’s a sad fact that, the older a child becomes, the less likely they are to enjoy a successful adoption. Older children frequently get cycled through the DCFS system, hopping from foster carer to group home and back again. Research has even shown that these children tend to age out of the system directly, suddenly being dropped on their own two feet at the age of 18.

As is the case for many children, many simply aren’t ready–and having a lack of stability in early life can put them at high risk for drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, or chronic poverty.

The book, “Achieving Permanence for Older Children and Youth in Foster Care,” does an excellent job of highlighting why getting these children into stable homes is so important. It highlights how having a sense of permanence and being able to create “roots” with a family can help to provide them with the stability needed to move forward successfully. It also ensures that the adoptee gets to experience normalcy, gaining an understanding of what they should be striving for as healthy adults.

Better yet, having a family before they venture out into the world can mean having the opportunity to experience familial love and protection for what may really be the first time. This can instill the self-esteem, confidence, and security needed to make healthy decisions and healthy connections.

They Get to Be Part of the Decision-Making Process

For younger children, this is commonly not the case–placements are generally issued by the agency. While this is necessary, it can sometimes leave children feeling unimportant or detached from the new family. When you start the adventure required to adopt an older child, chances are they’ll be part of the decision-making process. This is especially true if you plan to adopt a teen. 

Generally, both adoption agencies and the courts will encourage the older child to be an active part of their adoption. Although it may seem questionable to allow a child to have a say, giving him or her a bit of control over their future can actually be very helpful. Doing so allows them to feel as if they are in control of their lives.

Instead of the decision being taken out of their hands and a placement issued, they can actively work with you to develop a relationship before the full transition occurs. You will get to know your child, and he or she will get to know you. Through this process, a bond can be developed before the full transition occurs. There’s also more time to develop trust between the family and the child, ensuring that neither are blindsided by issues after the adoption occurs.

The importance of trust cannot be understated: many older adoptees have experienced abuse, neglect, or severe instability throughout their lives. Keeping the child involved will help to ensure that things move forward at a pace that is most comfortable for them, preventing issues down the road. The bonding process isn’t always easy–you’ll no doubt have at least a few challenging experiences–but it’s almost always healthier for the child.

You May Be Their Last Chance

For children who are coming up on age 15 or older, the fact that they may never be settled with a family can be frightening. While many do become accustomed to living in foster or group homes, these are never a true match for a stable, permanent family. An article by CNN highlights that over 23,000 children simply aged out of care in 2012–a startling percentage of the over 200,000 introduced to care in the same year.

What happens to these children?

The statistics aren’t good:

  • One in five children will become homeless after 18
  • Just half of children over 24 will be able to hold down a job
  • Fewer than 3% of children will make it through college or university
  • Over 70% of women will experience early pregnancy before the age of 21
  • The rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in these children has been identified at nearly one in four

These statistics are why emancipated children are automatically considered high-risk teens and young adults in many areas of the United States. By adopting an older child, you may very well be helping to reduce the risk that they will experience serious challenges like jail time, drug addiction, or even the loss of their own child later in life.

Older children are every bit as deserving of your love as adorably cute infants and toddlers. In many ways, they come with their own unique set of rewards and experiences. If you would like to discuss whether adoption is right for you, contact a licensed adoption agency  through this link today.

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