3 Things to Know Before Adopting an Older Child

By RedWallPPC
November 26, 2023

If you’re considering adopting, you’re most likely picturing an infant.

Few parents consider adopting an older child.

Some are worried they won’t be able to connect. Others think their adopted child will be too set in their ways.

All of them overlook a very obvious truth – that adopting an older child can be just as rewarding. It takes a delicate approach and a careful temperament, and a few things set it apart.

That’s what we’re here to discuss, so let’s dive right in.

1. What Makes Adopting an Older Child Different?

Unlike adopting an infant (or a child during their formative years), adopting an older child has a unique dynamic.

Older children bring with them a wide variety of experiences and expectations. Some of them have been through foster care and adoptive families before.

That’s why, more than ever, it’s crucial for you to build connections and establish ground rules from day one.

Building Connections and Setting Ground Rules

Teens rebel. It’s what they do.

And when you adopt a teen, you have the double trouble of a rebellious, pubescent individual striving to find themselves and an out-of-place child who isn’t sure how to be a part of a new family.

As parents, you have to build trust while remaining patient. You have to establish clear ground rules without suffocating your child’s sense of freedom.

And no, it isn’t easy, particularly when adopting a child.

The best advice is to take it slow, learn to listen, and forgive yourself (and your adopted child) when either of you make a mistake.

2. Navigating Education and Development

When adopting a teen, you’ll need to pay extra attention to the teen’s educational needs. The choices they (and you) make now have the potential to impact the rest of their lives and careers.

Take the time to assess their needs and capabilities. Speak with educational professionals and take a vested interest in their performance. This may include recognizing gaps in your adopted child’s education and addressing them with dedication and the help of additional tutoring.

Developmental Milestones

Regardless of their age, every child reaches developmental milestones.

In the context of older child adoption, the manner in which these milestones manifest can vary wildly. Stay attuned to emotional maturity and celebrate your adopted child’s achievements, no matter how small.

3. The Importance of Patience and Compassion

Patience, compassion, forgiveness.

Each is a vital cornerstone of any adoption process, and all are the more important with older children. Approach setbacks with understanding and allow room for growth and healing.

A patient environment lays the groundwork for connections that last a lifetime.

Involving Your Existing Family

Some families expand through older child adoption – and older children are more “switched on” when it comes to existing family dynamics.

That means that open communication and inclusive activities help forge stronger bonds. Collectively, this approach creates a sense of unity and belonging.

Choose Compassion

Adopting an older child might seem like a greater challenge, but that only makes it all the more rewarding. With a healthy mix of perseverance and compassion, it is your sacrifice that can give a child a better start in life.

At Heart of Adoptions, we help parents just like you who are seeking to adopt and raise a child as their own. Click here to get in touch.