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Advice on Adopting Older Children

Jun 26, 2014

Adopting a child can give a child the lifelong home they have always dreamed of.  Many people consider adoption as a process in which a baby is given to adoptive parents shortly after birth and is raised by the adoptive parents throughout the child’s lifetime.  However, the option of adopting older children can also be an incredible experience that brings stability and happiness to an older child’s life.  In the system, an “older child” is generally age 2-9, although children can be adopted through age 18.  According to adoption expert Jill Boyer, older children who are waiting for adoptive families tend to be of school age, siblings, and minorities. 

Many older children are adopted out of the foster system in what is sometimes called the ‘foster-adoption’ process.  Foster parents provide short-term temporary housing and care for many older children in the system.  A foster family does not generally intend to adopt the foster children in a long-term situation.  However, a foster-adoption family is one that has agreed to foster a child or children in hopes of gaining approval in a long-term adoption situation. 

It is important for prospective foster parents to be aware of some information and issues before considering the foster-adoption process. Boyer says the plan of the juvenile courts and the Department of Children and Family Services is for (foster) children to be able to return to their biological families- that is the preference.  Therefore, families involved in the foster-adoption process need to be emotionally prepared to bond with children who may return to their biological parents. 

If the biological parents are deemed to be unavailable to parent the child, the foster-adoption process begins.  After the biological parents, foster parents are the next choice as permanent parents for the child.  Many children in the foster-adoption process are older children who may have been in the foster system for a longer time period, possibly years.  According to adoptive parent Stacy Earl, there are benefits of adoptiong older children because many children at this age are in need of love and excited to be involved in family life. 

Adopting an older child is a fantastic way to add to your family, and it provides an older child with a stable home in which to develop and flourish.  Older children have already developed personalities and skills, so it is often easier to determine how well a child will fit in with the parents, other siblings already in the home, and the home lifestyle.

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I was a teenager in the foster system for awhile and my foster parents were amazing. I know some foster kids don't have good experiences but my foster parents really helped me turn my life around when I was in a bad place. They also ended up adopting me which was a great experience. I strongly encourage anyone who wants to and is in the position to be a foster parent because you can really help older kids who are struggling.

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