If you are one of those people who feel that adopting an older child and raising him is much easier than taking care of an infant, think again! Although, an older child is no doubt in a better position to express his wants, feelings, thoughts and desires, yet, there are some issues, which almost all parents who have adopted an older child, have to come face to face with. So, if you are adopting an older child, you need to be prepared to handle these. But before that, you should be aware of what all issues can come up after adoption of an older child.
Issues with Adopting Older Children
First and foremost, adoptive parents should understand that an older child has not lived in a stable family environment all these years of his life. This means that he might not have any idea of what a family is. It is quite possible that the older child has lived in many foster homes and this might have instilled a feeling of insecurity in him. Due to all these issues, it might become difficult for the adoptive parents to make the older child a part of the family, as an older child could be suffering from 'attachment problems'. It is very difficult for such a child to trust someone. A child with attachment problems could display disruptive behavior, such as lying, cheating, stealing, being manipulative, etc. That's why, in majority of the cases, older children who are adopted need to be counseled by a therapist. So, all the parents who are contemplating adopting an older child should be prepared for this.
Another important issue is that such children will have memories of their parents, siblings, past foster homes, friends, etc. It is very possible that they have been mistreated, hurt or even abused in the past. Such children could be carrying a whole lot of grief and anger inside. They can be aggressive and abusive as well. Thus, in order to handle such issues, the adoptive parents should collect as much information as they can about the child's life, before he came to live with them. This will give them a better insight into the child's life and also help them understand why he is behaving the way he is. Parents handling such children need to develop lots of patience and provide their undivided attention, support and guidance to the child.
Then there are some issues which are faced by many adopted children, irrespective of their age. Adjustment issues, such as inability to sleep in the new home, not getting along with the children the couple already have, not liking the food, inability to get along with the parents, these are all pretty common. Adoptive parents need to handle all such issues with a sense of maturity and any lack of attachment on the part of the child should not be taken personally.
Handling Issues Involving Older Child Adoption
As mentioned above, an older child would most probably need counseling by a professional. The good part about adopting an older child is that his entire medical history, including any past illnesses and health conditions, is available, which the parents can make use of in his treatment. Adoptive parents of an older child should understand that if they want him to feel attached to them, he should first be able to trust them. That's why, parents should give their undivided love to the child. In case he displays aggressive behavior or gets angry often, parents should tell him that it is all right to feel this way and at the same time, suggest some other ways to vent out his anger. Reassuring the child time and again, being there for him, consoling and supporting him, and doing it with all their patience, is what is needed to make the child feel bonded and a part of the family.
As you can see, although there are numerous issues, yet, with love, patience and support, they can be handled in time. In the end, parents should keep an open mind with regards to the outcome of their efforts. Sometimes, the scars of his past may make it virtually impossible for the child to connect with his parents. So, the parents should keep on making efforts and try their best to give the adopted child as good and safe an environment as they can, without any kind of expectations!