Choccy we are going through similar thought processes, so thanks for asking the question! And thanks for the thoughtful replies too.
As you said it would be a step into the unknown at any age, and it is when you think this thought further that, at least for me, it means there is no point in going for an older child for the only reason of the fewer 'unknowns'. On the contrary you might be kidding yourself into thinking 'this is safe, we know there won't be x, y, z problem' and then how would you feel when that problem turned up anyway? (Because the SW weren't entirely honest or aware... or because it hadn't been spotted... or simply another problem you hadn't thought of excluding) I think when you go for adoption you have to in some sense embrace the thought of unknowns and risks, so that when something does turn up you just get on and deal with it. Rather than fooling yourself into believing you can control these things and then being shocked/disappointed/feel guilty towards birth child/feel embarrassed/whatever when something turns up despite your careful choices and attempts to control things. (not you in particular!)
So I guess as people have said we really need to ask ourselves what age child we'd want to adopt and go from there. In my case (we are probably going to be looking at very young ones) it's not because of a deep wish to parent a baby again (on the contrary, having a 3yo now I find it quite difficult to consider going back to the baby phase); but rather a question of timing, tied up in DS' age. So we considered delaying adopting a child for many years, in order to get an 'older' child with fewer unknowns, but have recently come to the conclusion that it would be kidding ourselves regarding the unknowns and they are certainly not enough reason to delay for another 6-9 years.
BTW have you read 'when Daisy met Tommy' by Jules Belle (I think)? I found it quite insightful regarding adopting with a young BC.
To be honest I had never imagined having a baby join us, so in terms of 'what age do I want to parent' it was 'as young a child as possible to give a good gap between them and DD' . Also, I realise that I hadn't allowed myself to be choosy (we aren't up to that stage in the formal discussions yet) and was open to any child who needed a family, whilst taking into account that we had a BC. So now it feels a bit selfish to be realising I would quite like a baby if possible (I was very ill for DD's first 2.5 yrs and couldn't care for her as much as I'd have liked).
As always Lilka's response is full, detailed and bang on the money.
From a more personal perspective I have adopted two children who were both under 2 when placed with us. Our DD was in FC from 5 days old and that was straight from hospital, our son lived with BM (they Re half siblings so same BM) until he was 3 and a half months old then went into FC. Ours DS' early experiences on paper would have made him a much more difficult to manage child, there were all the reasons he was removed from BM (which I am sure you can imagine) followed by an extremely poor foster placement, so poor we were advised by our SW to put in an official complaint about the carer. However, he is a more resilient child, he attached to us much quicker than our DD and has coped with change etc much easier. That being said DD is in no way a hard child to parent and is a joy and is now very well attached and settled.
I suppose what I am saying is that each child is different and some of the issues or resilience won't come through on the CPR or until they have been home with you for sometime. So think to yourself "what age of child do I want to parent" and go from there. As you say you are very lucky to have the choice hopefully
We have adopted three children. They were aged 2 and a half. 6 months and 6 months when they came home. Parenting all three has been a pleasure and a challenge. Out of the three of them the eldest, who was the eldest when she came home, has the least problems. The younger two have FASD, which was not a surprise with the youngest, but has been a battle to have diagnosed. Deep down I always wanted the "baby" stage, so we were very fortunate to be able to have two babies. As you go through the assessment things will become more clear, as far as ages etc go.
I think I was at the 'wistful but OK' stage before we found out that this LA really needs adopters of babies. Now it seems like an unexpected opportunity but also a step into the unknown, which I guess it would be with any age!
Another thing to think about is that some older children may well have been in a stable foster home for some time. A family friend recently adopted a 2.5 year old girl who had been in a wonderful foster home since she was less than a year old. I don't think there is a blanket rule that a younger child is better, it depends on their circumstances. I'm not trying to be negative either but even a baby can experience trauma and be affected by it, especially if their attachment relationships have been poor. I think the more open minded you go into the process, the easier it will be to cope with whatever the future may hold. All the best of luck!
I do, yes. You are right that all of those LO's have experienced some disruption/trauma in their lives, to a greater or lesser extent, and some of them will most likely have been exposed to substances in the womb. And that this will have an effect to some extent. Obviously all older children have this as well though.
The unknowns are scary. And yes babies have even more unknowns than older children
But I do think you have to go with what you want, as long as what you want is reasonable and achievable!
If you really want to parent another little one from a young age, and those children are available in your LA, then it sounds like a good situation to me.
I think you have to ask yourself how important the earliest two years are to you and how you would feel if you couldn't experience that with your child. If you find that idea upsetting it would probably be best to keep a low age range. Your husband may also really want the babyhood bit. Be brutally honest with yourself. If I told you now, "choccy, you can never experience the learning to walk, chubby 11 month old, pushing the pram with the tiny one in stage ever again" would you feel very sad and/or empty? Or wistful but okay about it? Or something else. And how would your DH feel?
However if you wouldn't be very upset to miss out on the first two years then considering the 2 and 3 year olds could be right for you. However...it's important to remember that a 2/3 year old also has many of the same unknowns a baby has. IME it's not until about 4/5+ and the child starts school that you really see a lot more. Yes it's true that a 4 month old baby would probably not be showing signs of classic autism whereas a 3 year old would most likely be, and it's also true that attachment disorders and sensory processing issues etc become easier to see in a 2/3 year olds than a baby, but when it comes to insecurites and mild issues or even mild learning difficulties/ADHD, they don't always show themselves till a little later. There are many adoptive children who do very well at home but when start school problems start appearing.
Also a 3 year old has in all likelihood experienced even more trauma than the babies. Age is not in itself an indicator of issues - background and amount of trauma is the best indicator. An older child who comes into care following their loving parents tragic deaths is likely to have much less issues than a 1 year old in care following battering and broken bones and serious neglect. But most of your LA's 3 year olds will have experienced chaos and neglect since they won't have been removed at birth, so you need to be thinking about coping with that as well.
The LA we hope to sign up with have (rather surprisingly) quite a few children waiting wh are under 2yrs, most of these being under 1.
DH sees this as a great thing, given the children (hopefully) won't have been moved too many times and may have less (albeit conscious) memories of trauma.
I think he's fooling himself a bit as all children in care have experienced trauma even if this is 'just' not being with birth parents, and secondly a high percentage may have aspects of FAS which aren't yet known about.
Having said that of course I am thrilled that there are such young children waiting, both for the age-gap to DD (5) and the opportunity to parent another littlie from a young age.
I think we should look at a range of ages rather than fixate on 'the youngest will be most straighforward'. Can anyone see what I mean?