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NiamhMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 22-Oct-19 16:39:38

Peachypips78

What a lovely post. We have two boys aged 12 and 9, and I always wanted more children but couldn't. I've often wondered about adopting an older sibling pair as I know they aren't as easy to adopt. Do you think this balance would work?

Hi @Peachypips78 below is a response from Rebecca:

"We would encourage anyone thinking of adopting any children and especially older children to either talk to their local children services team or reputable agency to discuss their needs and specific family dynamics to see if it is right for them.

First4Adoption has some helpful information about things to consider if you already have children and are considering adoption, and also about adopting siblings."

jigsawmaniac Sat 19-Oct-19 08:45:05

This is a lovely post. I am an adopter of a younger child and was thinking now too old to do it again; this has given me a whole new perspective on considering adopting an older child.

Isaididont Fri 18-Oct-19 20:13:57

Really enjoyed hearing your story. Thank you for sharing this and I’m so glad your daughters have a forever family now.

stealthbanana Thu 17-Oct-19 23:45:03

I don’t have any experience of anything like this, but your love and compassion show through your writing. What a wonderful post. I wish you all the best with both children xxx

GinisLife Thu 17-Oct-19 18:09:11

I foster a 16 year old who has been with me for 3 years. It has its challenges but I wouldn't change him. He does have a reasonable relationship with mum and sees her every month but while he wanted to go home in the early days he changed his mind after 18 months and opted to stop with me and continue to see her monthly. If you're considering it please do it. These children deserve a good home and security. Please never do it for the money, do it for love.

justanothernameonthewall Thu 17-Oct-19 17:45:51

This is a beautiful post. My DH is involved right at the beginning of some of these children's lives, and it's heartwarming to hear that there is hope for them to go on and have a happy, normal, family upbringing.

Peachypips78 Thu 17-Oct-19 16:30:02

What a lovely post. We have two boys aged 12 and 9, and I always wanted more children but couldn't. I've often wondered about adopting an older sibling pair as I know they aren't as easy to adopt. Do you think this balance would work?

Mackerz Thu 17-Oct-19 16:28:01

Your story is inspiring. We are struggling with secondary infertility and are beginning to think about adoption.

TheVoiceInTheShed Thu 17-Oct-19 15:40:08

What a wonderful positive guest post.

MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-19 14:18:52

Guest post: "The day we met the girls for the first time was very emotional"

Rebecca, a mother to two girls adopted through the children’s charity and leading adoption agency Coram, writes about adopting older children

Rebecca

Adoptive Parent

Posted on: Thu 17-Oct-19 14:18:52

(9 comments )

Lead photo

"We felt determined that older children should be offered the same opportunities to find their forever family"

For some prospective adopters, the age of the child is an important consideration - with many expressing a preference for babies and younger children. However, when my husband Andy* and I decided to adopt, we were looking at it from a different perspective.

Andy and I met later on in life and while we tried to have biological children, we knew that time wasn’t on our side. We had discussed adoption very early on in the relationship and it was something that we were both interested in.

Through some friends of ours who were foster carers, we learned that many older children grow up in long-term foster care because they are considered “too old” to be adopted once they reach the age of five. We also learned that, no matter how fabulous the foster carers may be, children often feel distanced from them - in a strange zone where they no longer feel part of their birth family, but don’t truly feel part of the foster family either.

Every child deserves to feel part of a family, be that through birth or adoption. This realisation had a profound effect on us, and we felt determined that older children should be offered the same opportunities to find their 'forever family'.

We felt encouraged by the training and support we were offered by our adoption agency. They were very honest about the realities and prepared us for the worst-case scenarios. But they also empowered us as parents to deal with these potential challenges.

We were told about two sisters, Ellie* (six and a half) and Freya* (three and a half), who were in care. The day we met the girls for the first time was a very emotional one. Their foster carers had prepared them so well that they couldn’t wait to meet us and we were able to start the bonding process immediately. We have built a strong relationship with the girls’ foster parents that continues to this day. We really leant on them for support and they have become like extended family to us now. The girls had already grieved for their birth family, we didn’t want them to lose the bond with their foster parents too.

There are specific challenges to adopting older children. From a behaviour perspective, there can be years' worth of bad habits to be discouraged as well as boundaries to be instilled.


There were, however, some challenges in the early stages. The girls had each gone through slightly different trauma. Freya had suffered a lot of physical abuse from her birth mother. Andy bonded with her very quickly but as a female, she was scared of me and she wouldn’t let me near her at bedtime or bathtime for the first two weeks. There was a lot of screaming and head-banging because she was scared and didn’t know how to communicate. I had to earn her trust but that wasn’t easy. It involved me putting her to bed every night for two weeks with plenty of tantrums, episodes of regression and being very scared. I had to reassure her this was her safe and forever home and meet her unmet needs. Thankfully we got through it and bonded very well. We have a lovely relationship now and now she knows she’s safe and understands the difference between her birth family and her forever home.

Ellie, on the other hand, struggled with guilt as she was the one who disclosed the abuse she and her sister were experiencing. She felt that she’d split the family up. Children can be incredibly loyal to their birth families, regardless of how they were treated sometimes. But we reassure her that what she did was very brave, she saved herself and her sister from future abuse.

There are specific challenges to adopting older children. From a behaviour perspective, there can be years’ worth of bad habits to be discouraged as well as boundaries to be instilled. But, more importantly, older children will remember more about their previous lives and might struggle with memories of bad times. But they will also remember the good times. Older children are more likely to miss their birth families, regardless of how they treated them. They will also miss their old school friends and may find moving to a new school challenging.

But the good news is that with love, attention, consistency and structure, this can be overcome. We always tell the girls, "Don’t let your past define your future. You can be who you want to be" and this has really resonated with them. Our girls are now flourishing both at home and at school. They are confident, make friends easily and enjoy activities they’d never had the opportunity to do before.

I will say that both Andy and myself have stuck together very tightly, parenting in a very consistent way with both of the girls - especially when instilling boundaries that were not there before. Both of our girls had no boundaries in place with their birth family, so it was crucial that we were very consistent in this way and we are now reaping the benefits of this. Recently, Ellie said that she was happy we had rules because it made her feel safe.

To anyone considering adoption, I would encourage them to explore the possibility of adopting an older child who may otherwise have to grow up in long-term foster care. Don’t feel it’s too late to make a difference in the life of an older child. Don’t feel that you won’t be able to bond with them or that their behaviour is set in stone. The benefits more than outweigh the difficult moments. Your social workers will help you through this. Our lives have changed so much but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are complete as a family and it’s amazing.

*All names have been changed

By Rebecca

Twitter: @Coram

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