Monday, June 20, 2016

Adopting an older child

Although many people feel best equipped to parent a newborn, adding an older child to your family can be a source of great joy. A recent article written by Dawn Davenport featured on the site Creating a Family, describes a few of the many benefits of adopting an older child.

Image result for teenagers and parentsAs a potential family for an older adopted, an important aspect is understanding your child's prior life. When kids reach the age of about 8-10 years, they are able to communicate their life story.  This helps you have a better understanding of what they have gone through. Being able to communicate also helps out in counseling because they can be fully involved in the sessions. It's also easier for them to do things your family enjoys- At an older age children are discovering what they like and dislike. Your child may not like everything you like, but there will be something you can find that you can both do together. Older children are more self- sufficient and are able to do things on their own.  They can get themselves ready in the morning and at night. They, of course, will still need you there for them but they are a little more independent.  You can have "real" conversations with your child.  They will have a greater understanding of what is happening in their lives and the ability to articulate that. an older child has more formed thoughts and opinions and it can be such an exciting thing to share with each other.  They can also express how they are feeling so you can help them work through past trauma.

We are grateful that Christi Carmouze, a social worker from the Loudoun County Foster Care and Adoption Department of Family Services, took the time to let us interview her. Christi's specific responsibilities are to educate potential individuals in what foster care is and what the agency does. She expresses that the ultimate goal/mission may be to return the child back to their biological family,  if that can be accomplished safely.  But, that if it cannot, the foster parent may ultimately be found to be the best resource for the child in terms of adoption. She was very open about what takes place and what is expected of the foster parents while fostering a child and what happens if the foster parents end up adopting the child.

Image result for teenagers and parentsChristi talked with us concerning what's involved when a foster parent completes the training and the rigorous home study process.  A foster family gets placed onto the DFS roster, then, once a child needs home, families on the roster is reviewed to see if they could provide that home. The family is then contacted and is told the information about the child. They then have a quick time period to talk it over with the rest of the household and to make a decision if this is a child they will be able to provide care for.  After the decision has been made, the child is typically placed in the home that same day or the next day. There are some situations; however, where it could be a few weeks until the child enters the foster home.

Heather Crittenden also spoke with us.  She is from the Loudoun County Foster Care and Adoption Department of Family Services, and serves as the Adoption Assistance Worker and the ICPC worker.  She also manages adoption cases in the agency and does interstate compact placements, where a child is moved from a different state into Loudoun County.  We asked her about the biggest changes once the foster care parents become the adoptive parents.  She expressed that the agency is no longer responsible, they can be there for support but everything is now on the new parents.  When adopting an older child, the child gets a say once they are 14 years of age on if they want to be adopted by a specific family which could be difficult if the biological family is still involved.  A family must be open to waiting for the older child to make their decision and be open to having the biological family involved if they are still around and if that's what the child would like.

There are still "firsts" to be had with an older child, not everything happens when a child is a baby. We asked Heather what’s one of the most important things we can pass on to all of you; "No Story is the same; each child has a different story and a different opportunity.  If you are willing to commit and take the journey the reward is far more rewarding than you could imagine".

Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.

This blog and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2016

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