In the adoption world, a child who is 5 years old or older is considered an “older child.” Being considered an “older child” means waiting even longer for a family as the chances of adoption decrease significantly.
About 43 percent of waiting children are nine or older, but 72 percent of adopted children are under age nine. Further, the average age of children when adopted from foster care is 6.6 years. In comparison, the average age of waiting for children is 8.2 years, according to research by The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption and The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Although the transition may be simpler for a younger child, every child deserves a home, and these older children have been through a lot. Especially when considering that the average number of years a child stays in foster care waiting for adoption is three years.
Many of these children have been without a solid routine and don’t wholly trust adults. As the adoptive parent, it is your role to establish trust and routines in their life by meeting their basic needs, establishing rules, setting boundaries, and creating consequences for their actions. In this blog post, we’re sharing a few tips to help when adopting an older child.
A routine will help you and the child get used to this new life together. Older children have probably been in and out of foster homes, leaving their lives to be disrupted regularly. By establishing a solid routine, you will help establish trust. Routines will also help the child relax as they know what to expect. Try keeping mealtimes and bedtimes consistent.
Know There Will Be a Honeymoon Phase
Your child may be on their best behavior when they first arrive. This is mainly an indication of a honeymoon phase. It will help to remember that this child has faced a lot of challenges in their short life. Once they become more comfortable, undesirable behavior might be on display. Remember that it is nothing related to you; they are simply just adjusting to this new life.
Provide Access to Food and Drink At All Times
By having food and drink available, you are showing the child that you will provide and take care of them. This does not mean that you should indulge.
Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep
Many people have made promises to the child that they haven’t kept. Don’t be one of those people!
When we think of overstimulation in a child, we think of newborns and small children. However, overstimulation can also happen with older children when put in a new environment and routine. Usually, we’re excited to have our child that we want to do all the things we’ve ever imagined, but it can be very overwhelming for them. We suggest that you don’t bring them to every event put on by the neighborhood; this can compound stimulation and do more harm than good.
Look in the mirror, take a deep breath, and say “I’ve got this.” You have changed the life of that child by choosing to adopt them. It will take time for you and your new family to adjust, however, you are resilient and can do it!
Every adoption is as unique as the adoptive parents themselves, but the journey doesn’t have to be harrowing. At Stuart & Blackwell, we understand just how stressful the adoption process can be, and we’re here to help you find the path to adoption that’s right for you.
We specialize in Arizona adoption law, and we have the experience, knowledge, and compassion to help you welcome your child into your loving home. Contact us at (480) 420- 2900 today for your free consultation.