So You’re Thinking About Adopting An Older Child…


adopting an older childOlder child adoption is available through MLJ Adoptions, a Hague-Accredited agency working with several intercountry adoption programs. We work with foreign countries where adopting an older child is an option because there are no adoptive homes for them in their home country. Because the term “older child” can mean any child 4 years of age and older (depending on the country), these children can be available for adoption by themselves or as part of a sibling group. Generally, these children have been waiting patiently for a loving home that can help meet their needs. They wish desperately to become part of a loving family.

Families who consider adopting older children often choose to do so because they are at a stage in their life where they want children, but do not want to deal with the intricacies of adopting an infant or toddler and juggling diapers, lack of sleep, midnight feedings, day care dilemmas, and potty training. They feel that a child who is more self-sufficient is a better match for their family. This is one reason why adopting an older child often appeals to single parents who wish to adopt. Sometimes adults have waited to stabilize other areas of their life first, such as finances, job security, or property ownership, before they consider starting a family. Some adults may have postponed marriage or decided not to marry at all. Their chronological age may be older because of these decisions, and when they do decide that they want children, older aged parents are sometimes not favorably considered for the domestic adoption of babies or very young children. Children who are considered “harder to place,” such as older children, are more readily available to older parents who wish to adopt, and the adoption process can sometimes occur more quickly.

Parents who choose to adopt older children also know that they want a family, and they want a child who feels the same way. Older children available for adoption have usually voiced their desire for a forever family; they just haven’t found one yet. When you both know and accept that you need each other, the adoption becomes a relationship based on mutual understanding and acceptance. You can begin sharing interests and activities from the first day together, whether those are sports, hobbies, arts, or simply board games. You can immediately begin having fun together by laughing, joking with each other, and building a rapport. You both have great hope for the future and are willing to make the success of the adoption a priority.

When you adopt an older child, whether internationally or domestically, you will generally have more of the child’s history available to you. Due to the length of the child’s time “in care,” more records have been accumulated and more data—medical, social, psychological, educational, behavioral—is often available to the adoptive parents. This is usually not the case on younger children or those who have only been available for adoption for a short time. Additionally, because the child is older, he or she can communicate directly with you about his past experiences, likes and dislikes, achievements, hopes, fears, and dreams. Putting the pieces of his or her life together can be somewhat easier when you have those details.

Older children simply have fewer options for a permanent family. They often exist day in and day out watching their friends in the orphanage or their foster siblings become adopted and they become more depressed about their own situation. Their desire for a forever family and a real place to call home looks bleaker as each day passes. They start to feel “unlovable.” By adopting the older waiting child, you can TRULY make a difference in their life! You can absolutely change their world by offering them the opportunity to be adopted! You may be pleasantly surprised by how adopting an older child changes your world, too!

If you are thinking about adopting an older child, contact MLJ Adoptions. We have options for older child adoptions in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Samoa, Mexico, Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, and Haiti. We want to help both you and that waiting older child achieve the dream of a forever family!

Karlene Edgemon works as MLJ Adoptions’ Director of Social Services. Throughout her 25 year social services career, Karlene has been able to watch adoption transform the lives of children and she is always brainstorming new ways to support adoptive families before, during and after their adoption.