Many adoption agencies in Oklahoma focus on infant adoptions. At Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoptions, we also focus our efforts on helping prospective families see the benefits and beauty of adopting an older child. Older child adoption can be challenging, but it’s also one of the most rewarding and selfless acts an adoptive parent can do. Why? Because it gives the benefit of home and family to a foster child.
What Is Older Child Adoption?
Most adoptions that take place in the United States are infant adoptions – the adoption of an infant or young child. Older child adoptions are adoptions of children that fall outside of this age range. Often these children are adopted through the foster care system, though in some uncommon cases older child adoptions happen outside of foster care.
In contrast to infant adoption, older child adoption carries some negative stereotypes. Many people think that older children in the foster care system are difficult or have severe problems. Others think that older children can never be “true” members of an adoptive family. However, these negative preconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth. Families with older adopted children are just as strong, loving, and whole as any other family.
The Difficulties of Older Child Adoption
Older child adoption can and does create strong families. Yet, adopting an older child is not without its hardships. Children that have been through the foster care system have often had trauma or problems in their lives. It can be difficult to coax them out of their shells and build the trust that a family relies on.
Here are a few of the challenges that many adoptive parents face when adopting an older child:
- History – Many children are in the foster care system because of difficulties with their birth parents or because of some traumatic event in their past. Working through these issues can take time and patience. You can’t expect a foster child to “run into your arms” after having been in foster care for months or years.
- Health or Behavior Problems – Some foster children have health and behavioral issues that a foster parent or adoptive parent will have to deal with. There is no denying this fact. Often, behavioral problems are reactions to their own past. You can work through these issues, but some children will always carry remnants of their pasts. Other foster children have lifelong health issues. You’ll need to be able to help your child through these problems.
- Siblings – Foster children aren’t always alone. Many foster children enter the foster care system with their siblings, and they obviously prefer to stay together. If you were planning on adopting only one child, you might have to adjust your expectations to care for a sibling group.
- Your Own Expectations – One of the hardest things about adopting an older child is readjusting your own expectations. Many adoptive parents start their journey with thoughts of a tiny infant in their arms. The realities of adopting an older child might be difficult to deal with at first. Over time, though, you’ll find that you couldn’t have imagined doing it any other way.
Why You Should Consider Adopting Older Children
With the above list of potential difficulties, you might think that it’s not worth it to even consider adopting an older child. The truth, though, couldn’t be more different. Adopting an older child is one of the most giving and rewarding things a parent can do. Here are just a few reasons you should consider it:
- It’s Faster – Adopting an older child through the foster care system usually takes far less time than adopting an infant or going through an international adoption.
- It’s Less Expensive – Adoption through the foster care system costs significantly less than adopting an unborn child or infant. Foster parents can also get assistance from the state to help offset the costs of caring for foster children.
- It Makes a Difference – More than anything else, the biggest reason many adopt foster children is because it makes a difference in a child’s life. Many of the children in the foster care system have low expectations about their chances to find a forever family. By providing the gift of a loving home to those children, you’re giving them a better chance to succeed in their own lives. You will make a difference to them that will last forever.
Do you want to learn more about becoming a foster parent in Oklahoma or adopting children from the Oklahoma foster care system? Contact us today at Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoptions. We can help you along the journey of becoming a foster parent and finding a child who needs your help, guidance, and love. Call (405) 949-4200 today or visit our Facebook or Google+ pages to learn more.