Okay, so you’ve made the decision to adopt, now you need to decide what age child? Do you want to look for an infant, a toddler, a pre-teen or a teenager? Do you want one child or a sibling group? Probably the most important question here is what can YOU handle? This decision is going to affect everyday of the rest of your life and most importantly, everyday of the rest of a child’s life.
Start with a list. Look back at the reasons you decided to adopt. Was it because you wanted a family? Was it because you wanted to provide permanency, safety and love to children who didn’t have this? What is your lifestyle like right now? What will it be like a week from now and a year from now? Do you have other children, what are their ages and are they adopted? These are all important questions to consider when trying to decide what age child you want to adopt. Here are a few pro’s and con’s to also consider:
Life History: If the child has been involved with any social service agencies there will probably be more of a history available then in an infant adoption. Full disclosure is mandatory in an agency placement, this means the adopting family is required to receive ALL facts before making the decision to an adoption. If a social worker has been working with a family she will have documented all of their strengths, emotional and medical history’s and will have looked towards other family members for permanency before looking to the public. This will mean you will know about other relatives.
Shorter Wait: If you are able to open your hearts and your home to an older child, or a sibling group – chances are you will find a child sooner. There are more children over the age of 4 waiting to be adopted then infants.
Discovering special needs sooner: Possible fewer “surprises” when it comes to behaviors and or disabilities. With infants it may take years to surface.
Done with the baby stuff: Older children don’t need potty training or 3am bottles!
Bonding: When adopting older children there is always a possibly of attachment issues. With a baby there is more of an opportunity for bonding and attachment in the first few months of life.
Teaching opportunities: With infants you can start raising your child with your values, morals and rituals. With an older child you may need to “unteach” a child a few things.
Learning to be a parent: With an infant, you are given an opportunity to “grow” into your role as a parent with your child. With an older child, you are thrown into a whole new world fast.
Adoption is a wonderful way to build a family. Don’t forget it is FOREVER!!