5 Facts to Know About Adopting an Older Child
Adopting a child is never an easy decision. The decision becomes much harder when that child isn’t an infant. There are many myths surrounding the adoption of older children, but below are a few facts that every potential adoptive parent should know.
Older is Relative
As you might expect, the term ‘older’ is relative when it comes to children who are free for adoption. Depending on the area, any child who is no longer an infant may be considered ‘older’. In fact, the ‘average’ adopted child would be considered older in most areas – at eight years old, these children are well beyond the age at which most typical private adoptions occur.
More Time in the System
Older children tend to spend more time in the system than their younger counterparts. Most children in foster care spend between two and five years waiting to be adopted. The amount of time spent in foster care tends to rise dramatically as children get older. In fact, it is statistically much more unlikely for a child to be adopted after he or she reaches his or her teens.
One of the major benefits of adopting an older child tends to be having more information about the child’s past. There will tend to be more records about the child’s health, psychological history, and even family history for older children, whereas newborns tend to come with precious little information. This can make adopting an older child somewhat more predictable, although there are often major holes in what is available.
Adopting an older child is typically less expensive than adopting an infant. In fact, adopting a child over five will typically allow an individual to claim some kind of adoption assistance. Depending upon the state, this might mean receiving a stipend every month, free health care, or even free college tuition for the student. States generally try to assist in the placement of older children whenever possible. Even in states without significant adoption assistance, there have still been many other individuals who have found unique ways to help families adopt.
Looking for a Home
Perhaps the most important thing to know about adopting older children is that these children really are looking for homes. While they may have quite a bit of emotional and psychological baggage, many of these children desperately want families. These children typically spend more time in the foster system and tend to want permanence. Given that older children are generally given some say in whether they are adopted, these matches tend to only happen with the child’s permission.
Adopting an older child certainly has its challenges, but it has its rewards. It can be difficult but it can change a child’s life. If you are considering adopting an older child, know this – there are thousands in the system now, and many simply want a permanent family to whom they can come home.