Adopting older children can bring both joys and challenges into a home. Not only are you dealing with the effects of any trauma, neglect or abuse the child may have experienced in his past, but
you are also dealing with that same child’s fear of being rejected once again, their conditioned responses to being parented, their desire for control, and their often skewed perception of the world and the people in it. You will also get to experience that same child’s awe in seeing a new and more wonderful perspective of the world, the joy he experiences when accomplishing new challenges, the happiness he expresses when feeling he is finally part of a real family, and the hope he now has for his future which formerly was not possible. As with parenting any child, you often find that you are in need of support and assistance to help meet all of their needs.
There are always going to be times when you will look to your family, friends, local mental health professionals, education experts, physicians, and community organizations for help with resources for your child. Each of these people and agencies will have good information for you and it will likely be tailored to what they have experienced, what they personally know about you and your child, and what is readily available in your community. This will and should always be your number one resource due to familiarity, easy access, immediate help, and experienced outcomes. However, there are also some good resources available to you and your child through other means. Here are just a few of them.
There are many excellent books on the market written by some of the best authorities in adoption for parenting older children. Whether found in your local library, bookstore or even on the web, here are a few of the ones you may want to consider:
Adopting the Older Child (1978) by Claudia Jewett Jarrett
Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child (2003) by Trish Maskew
Adopting Older Children: A Practical Guide to Adopting and Parenting Children Over Age Four (2014) by Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero
Parenting Your Adopted Older Child: How to Overcome the Unique Challenges and Raise a Happy and Healthy Child (2002) by Brenda McCreight
Parenting Adopted Adolescents: Understanding and Appreciating Their Journeys (2009) by Gregory C. Keck, PhD
Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children (2006) by Daniel A. Hughes
The Face in the Mirror: Teenagers and Adoption (2002) by Marion Crook
Adopted: The Ultimate Teen Guide (It Happened to Me) (2012) by Suzanne Buckingham Slade
Adopted Teens Only: A Survival Guide to Adolescence (2007) by Danea Gorbett
You can also easily find magazine and web based articles that relate to older child adoption. Some examples are:
“25 Ways to Nurture Hurt Children” by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky
“The Truth About Older Child Adoption” by Jen Hatmaker
The 7 Best Things About Adopting an Older Child by John M. Simmons
“The Joys and Challenges of Parenting Older Adopted Children” (11/1/14) by Dr. Gary Matloff
Adoption.com has put together additional resources on adopting older children.
The following are options for your child to experience and appreciate his culture in the company of other adopted children and families and increase his sense of belonging.
Additional culture camps featured at Adoption.com
Your family can participate in trips to help your older child better understand where he is from. When a child can understand his or her heritage and origin, he or she is better able to envision his or her future.
Besides accessing your support groups with MLJ Adoptions, these are some other ones focused on older child adoption:
This Yahoo Adoption Group includes a searchable database of groups with individual themes.
This Adoption.com Group includes a forum for families who have or are thinking about adopting internationally.
Adoption Therapists and Counselors
When selecting a therapist for your adopted child and family, it is important that you look for ones experienced in adoption. Here are some suggestions:
A list of professionals who are trained in TBRI, Trust Based Relational Intervention, can be found here.
CASE, the Center for Adoption Support and Education, maintains a listing of Graduates from its Adoption Competency Mental Health Training (TAC).
Professional listing by state for psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and counselors. You will need to check with them about their experience in adoption.
Post Adoption Services
Each state in the US offers Post Adoption services although each state separately determines who is eligible for these services and what services are offered. Many states do offer services for international adoptive families. Services can include therapy, case management, respite care, treatment planning, adaptive equipment, camps, education and training programs, support groups, special events, and community referrals. The Child Welfare Information Gateway maintains a listing (Adoption Assistance by State) of information. In many cases, these services are free.
Tutoring and Homework Assistance
Older children will often need assistance with their homework, language development, and special educational needs. Your school system and guidance counselors should be contacted first to connect with ESL classes, tutoring options, special education testing and placement, and formal study groups. Many school systems offer free or low cost tutoring programs which can be helpful for connecting your older child to programs and people in his own community.
Other options can be obtained on the web at sites such as:
Tutoring can be done between the student and their tutor over Skype when they cannot meet physically. Parents can also interview tutors via this tool.
Used by many colleges, universities and high schools in their long distance education programs, Scribblar offers live (real time) opportunities for students with options for audio, video and chat.
Free math and science homework assistance for students in grades 6-12 is available from Rose Hulman School of Engineering and Technology. You can call 1-877-275-7673 Sundays through Thursdays from 7pm-10pm.
While parenting the older adopted child can at times be stressful, you must remember that you are not alone. Be both ready and willing to seek assistance, ask for help from others and utilize resources to help you in this parenting journey. Parenting is a continual process with many ups and downs. At MLJ Adoptions, we will be alongside you each step of the way!