Adopting an older child
I often hear families express doubt as to their ability to parent an older adopted child. I found the following article from NCFA, Preparation and Support for Older Child Adoptions: NCFA Survey and Conference Feedback, Y: JAMEL ROWE, WITH MELISSA BLAUVELT AND RHONDA JAREMA, to contain valuable insights and suggestions.
What should I expect?
You should know that once your child comes home, they are carrying lots of history with them. Some trauma, abuse or neglect are normal. Older children are going to carry with them a lot more than a younger child typically would. Parenting these older children will not necessarily come easily but the experience will be so rewarding.
***Tip*** "Empathy, understanding the thoughts and feelings of another, is a learned skill, and grows only through consistent practice and follow-through. It is an especially important skill for adoptive parents to acquire." "First understanding, then meeting the needs of their children"
What might my child be feeling?
Older children in adoption are going to have a whirlwind of emotions. It needs to be understood that they might be feeling shame, or angered. These feelings can arise from hurt and grief that they might have experienced.
***Tip*** "By accepting the inevitability of having to work through some degree of attachment issues with their older adopted child, parents will be better prepared to seek the time and patience needed to parent a child while us simply waiting to see if she is loved before loving her parents back".
How can I work through what my child is going through?
-Make sure you have support. Families often rely on post-adoption support. You might be in a support group during the pre-adoption, but it is said to be helpful to either continue in the same group after adoption or finding support else where such as a licensed therapist depending on what you and your family may personally need. Know that every family and case is different and what works for some families might not be right for yours but there are so many different options that are available to you. "Dr. Arthur Becker Weldman, an attachment therapist, believes that there are two characteristics common in successful adoptive families: Commitment and Empathy".
1. Access therapy and ongoing support
2. Recognize that love is not enough
3. Know that adjustment, attachment, and bonding might take years
Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
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