When a family is looking to adopt a child, they may start with looking for mothers who are about to give birth. Then, they can raise a child from the time it’s born.
However, others would rather adopt an older child. Perhaps they believe there is more of a need to adopt an older child or having an older child in the home would be more conducive to their lifestyle. No matter what the reason, there are challenges parents are going to deal with – as well as a multitude of rewards they will experience as well.
Here are some things to know about legally adopting an older child so you can decide if it’s the right decision for you and your family.
The Challenges and Rewards of Adopting an Older Child
An older child might have been in and out of foster homes where an adoption just didn’t work out. Perhaps they are scarred by their experiences because they’ve been let down so many times before. They might also be abuse survivors and/or contending with the fact that their parents gave them up for adoption in the first place.
It could be more difficult to communicate to an older child that you’re going to love them and care for them, no matter what. If the older child is a teenager, they are coming of age, and dealing with all the normal issues teens face, too.
Additionally, it could be hard for you and the older child to adjust to them coming into your home. Perhaps you have other children or a routine, and they are not having the easiest time fitting into it.
You might have to adjust your expectations as the child gets used to how things work in your home. Remember to be flexible, and don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals like mental health counselors and social workers to help make the transition easier.
All children have love to give and deserve to be loved as well. It doesn’t matter what age your adopted child is; what they want is to feel safe and secure and that they can freely express themselves. They seek out validation from you and want to know you love and respect them.
An older child may have gone through more trauma than an infant, but that doesn’t mean they are incapable of opening up their heart to you and your family. In fact, it may end up being much more rewarding adopting an older child because you know you are truly making a difference in their lives. You are taking them out of a system they felt rejected them and showing them what a warm, loving home looks like. That alone could be worth all the challenges.
Legally Adopting an Older Child
The process for adopting an older child is the same as it would be for adopting a younger child. You will need to go to training, undergo a home study, find a match with the older child and navigate the legal process. Keep in mind that the child’s wishes are going to factor into the decision on whether or not you can adopt them, since they are older.
Each state has different requirements for adopting a child. You’ll need to meet with social workers and fill out various court forms in order to complete the adoption. You could also hire an adoption lawyer to guarantee that you are fulfilling all the legal requirements. Adoption is expensive and time-consuming, and you want to make sure that you aren’t wasting your energy or money. With a lawyer on your side, you can do it the right way the first time around.
While adopting an older child comes with its fair share of challenges, there are so many rewarding upsides as well. This isn’t a decision you take lightly, but when you do decide to do it, make sure you go about it the correct way by following all the legal steps for your state and hiring a lawyer who can help. Then, you can make sure that everything will go as smoothly as possible with your adoption, and you can welcome an older child into your loving home.
If you are considering adoption, the process can be complicated and confusing. Contact an experienced family law attorney in your area to discuss your situation and to get started.