Realities of Adopting an Older Child

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Adoptive Families Blog

Are you thinking about older child adoption?Are you hoping to adopt a child? If so, reading about the realities of adopting an older child in this article might help. In the adoption world, you may hear the terms “older child adoption” and “non-newborn adoption” both used. Today, Lifetime is going to guide you through this type of domestic adoption, providing useful information about adopting an older child to help you determine if it’s right for your family!

Just as with newborn adoption, adopting an older child comes with both blessings and challenges. Every child has a past and may need help adjusting to his or her new family. With attention, security, and lots of love, a child of any age will flourish.

Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is an older child adoption or non-newborn adoption? Adopting an older child involves a child over six weeks old. Many hopeful adoptive parents wonder what the differences are between a match with a pregnant birth mother and a match with the mother of an older child.

Newborn Adoption

Lifetime focuses on the health and well-being of the birth mother while she is pregnant because ultimately it effects the child.  Lifetime obtains her medical records and background information and arranges for you to talk to or meet her. She may need financial assistance or counseling which can be arranged to help her get through the pregnancy and the emotions that come with it.

Realities of Adopting an Older Child

With a non-newborn adoption, Lifetime will obtain the information above. There is no financial assistance permitted when adopting a non-newborn, but we do help guide the birth mother to resources that can help if needed and always recommend counseling.  Her role is vitally important because she will help us gather info such as her child’s medical records, school records, and daycare records. Lifetime also asks the birth mother about her child’s routine, behavior, and what they like and dislike. You will spend time meeting the child and there will be a transition plan with suggested counseling involved. 

Lifetime has even created this shopping checklist for older child adoption, so you can get all the needed essentials ahead of time. 

Additional Travel

With an older child adoption, you’ll meet with the child and his or her birth mom before the placement. You will likely travel at least twice; once to meet them and again once placement happens. You may have to travel multiple times if you’re not able to stay for the duration of the transition plan.

A Time of Transition

non-newborn adoption will involve a time of transition

Hopeful adoptive parents need to understand that with older children, the transition of going home with you can be trying. There will probably be a “honeymoon period” when your child is on their best behavior and assessing their new environment and routine. Once they get comfortable, your child will probably test you with different behaviors. But it’s important to remain consistent and work together. You will get through it and build a new routine.

Remembering Your Child’s Birth Parents

Always remember to talk positively about your child’s birth parents and allow your child to talk about their past. It’s a good idea to have a photo of your child’s birth parents in their room. This shows your child that you embrace their past and don’t want to change their memory. Your child may wish to stay connected to family members. Depending on the situation, this should be just fine. Try to consider it like this an extension of family; a child can never have too much love!

Consider creating a life book for your child, and ask their birth mother if she has photos and stories to share. By being truthful and up-front with your child right now, you can likely avoid issues as your child gets older. Avoid changing your child’s name: it confuses them, and birth mom may find it disrespectful. You can get creative and hyphenate or choose a middle name.

A Final Note

Give yourself time…the realities of adopting an older child might not be an easy adjustment at first. Don’t feel ashamed if you need to seek help. Make sure you put into words how you feel when talking to your child. Things like “I love you,” “we are never going to leave you,”  and “you are important to us” are words that will be so valued by your child.

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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