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experiences on adopting an older child

3 replies

jshibbyr · 13/04/2012 20:16

hey, i am planning ahead and have been thinking about adoption for a long time, as having my own children may not be possible, i was just wondering what are your experience of adopting a child say over the age of 7, i know it's harder than adopting a baby/toddler but was just interested really

OP posts:
Lilka · 13/04/2012 21:24

I have adopted three times, older children twice. DD1 was 10 when she moved in, DD2 was 8. I chose older children because I didn't really want a baby at that time, and I felt that older children were overlooked. I felt happier with a child I could communicate with, and do things with

I have lots to say about older children, so I'll probably come back later when I think of something else!

Older children (above 5) often have a greater understanding of thir story or at least the current siutaion than a younger child. Usually they can communicate with you - so they can say when they want or need something and maybe begin to tell you how they feel, although they probably won't trust you enough for months or maybe years to start revealing their deeper feelings. I found it great to be able to say 'lets go for a bike ride' when I felt one of the DD's was stressed - both love excercising which helps them release stress. I enjoyed not having to wait to do things like cinema, making things together, them helping me cook and so on. Another good thing is that by school age a child usually has much less developmental concerns than a baby - things like autism, FAS or learning difficulties will usually have shown up by the time a child is 7+ although of course things like dyslexia can take longer to pick up on. Even so, whilst there's always uncertainty, there's less of it for an older child

However, older children have much more formed personalities, interests, and more experiences before you. Your child if old enough may have developed a moral code vastly different from your own, and you can't impress your own values on them as much. I might invite a horrified 'but you shouldn't try and mould all your rigid values on the poor child', but I've never tried to do that and I don't mean it in that way. To illustrate my point, a couple I knew were really upset when their newly adopted 7 year old used the n word in public when they saw some black people. Their child thought it was a normal word and thought nothing of using it. If child has been very young when adopted that issue would probably never have arisen, certainly not like that. As it was, they suddenly found themselves trying to deal with a child who had been taught really racist views by their original family, and didn't see anything wrong with it. They were stunned and struggled to change their childs views. I think things are much better now, but I don't like to ask because it's quite embarassing for them :( Just an example of that. My own DD2 popped out 'you stupid cunt' at me in her first week home, although I don't think that's actually common. As loving as she can be, she's very volatile.

Older children don't necessarily have worse problems than babies. The thing is though, that the issues will obviously take longer to show up in a baby. With an older child, you may find yourself dealing with very difficult behaviour early on without having years of good memories to look back on. It's harder to deal with aggression in a ten year old than a three year old generally. I've had awful awful times with my older kids, BUT I would do the same thing if I had my time over. That said, older children aren't right for everyone, so research it carefully. Things like attachment issues are a must to read about

HTH :)

jshibbyr · 13/04/2012 22:36

thankyou, similar to you my reasonings for older children is they get overlooked its that whole 'puppies are more wanted' and its interesting about them having more views at that age, having a 7 year old step brother he's stil very impressionable (huge age gap between my step silblings, and between my sibling) even my brothers amazingly impressionable... less so being 9, the being capable of them understanding and not having to go through telling them there adopted is appealing... despite babies being adorable :P

OP posts:
Lilka · 13/04/2012 23:08

Yes, they are still very impressionable, but they will have already picked things up from everyone else they've lived with which will have influenced them and so on. I just know some prospective adopters aren't so comfortable with that idea.

I will also add that frequently children with abusive or neglectful and unstable backgrounds, have an emotional age which is different from their actual age. Needing to regress a bit is common, as are social and behavioural delays. When DD2 moved in, her emotional age was at about 3/4, although she was 8. So I parented her like an older toddler. It worked, but it caused issues with school, family etc. Although we did get lovely bonding excercises out of it, it also caused stress for us.

Older children may have more need for contact than a younger child. Not always true, but both DD's have contact with their siblings and FFP's, and DD2 is very loyal to her mum. I have always been clear with her that I am not replacing her mum, although it has seemed like that to her sometimes. She writes letters, has met up with her, sends cards and photos etc. On the other hand, DD1 has no contact whatsoever with her original parents now, and no desire for it, however she is very close with her brothers and sisters. The other thing I tried with the DD2's was keeping in contact with their closer friends from their old schools. It did help in easing the transition, although predictably it trailed off as they grew apart. DD2 also was nowhere near the emotional age of her friends. But it was helpful in the short term, and not something you would do with a young child. You'll be facing the facebook issue sooner not later with an older child as well. My DD1 calls me by my first name usually, as she has issues with the word 'mum'. It's lovely when she says it, but not often.

It's very important that the older child is well prepared for their adoption. If they haven't been prepared for it and aren't happy about being adopted, there might well be big problems. Also very important to get as much informations as possible from SS

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