Adopting an Older Child, Part 1: Questions to ask yourself

I am going to take a couple of days and post about our experience in adopting an older child. I want to make this disclaimer right off, I am not an expert, I am new and fresh and raw as a skinned cat, so I am just giving my opinions. I am passionate about helping Orphans and that is why I feel there are things I must say.

Today I am gonna start with a questionnaire I made up that I wish I had been handed to fill out. We received great training by our agency, and if your agency doesn't do any training leave it now cuz' YOU MUST GET SOME. Yes, I said you must. It's like jumping into the ocean not knowing how to don't so do not take this child's life as light as knowing how to swim, it's much bigger. ITS A LIFE!

So, I will stop using caps and exclamation points and ask you some questions. Don't blow them off, don't say "that will not be me" like I did, just honestly answer them.

What is your goal when you adopt an older child?

Do you wish to help an orphan or create a family by adoption?

How do you think you will feel about your new child when you get him?

Are you prepared to handle the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of a hurt child?

What has prepared you?

What books have you read or training have you received to prepare yourself for parenting a hurt child?

Do you understand that attachment MUST be your first priority the first year home with your child? Not work, church, social life ONLY attaching to this child and this child to the family?

Do you understand that you will not instantly love this child like you do your other children?

Are you willing to go through the motions when your feelings are not there?

Do you know what the motions are?

How will you deal with abuse your child may have suffered when it surfaces in the form of the child abusing others?

What training have you received on parenting an abused child?

Do you understand what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is?

Do you know how trauma manifest in young children?

Do you know how to parent a grieving child?

Can you be patient beyond your current capacity?

Do you think you know how to parent?

Do you know that parenting a hurt child is different then parenting one that is not?

Are you willing to throw everything you know about parenting out the window and try something different with this child?

Are you teachable and flexible?

Are you willing to place your expectations at the feet of Jesus?

I would love to hear your answers and if you have any questions. You can e-mail me privately at or answer in the comments.

Also see my dear friend Jullian's blog for her posts "What I didn't Know" and "This and That, every day Reality" if you want to educate yourself on life with older adopted children, AND her boys are both deaf! So, it's some really great insight.

I have no desire to scare anyone off from adopting an older child. I do not IN THE LEAST regret adopting Abel. I just want others to be prepared that's all. Just because something is hard doesn't mean it's not completely worth doing and freakishly rewarding and a blessing. Forget the easy road, it's garbage anyway.


Jennifer said…
This is really great Carole! Very good.

My only thought is it is definitely not limited to just older children. I think it's perfect for children of all ages. There are definite differences between older children, toddlers, and infants- not saying there aren't. However, much of what you ask here is applicable to all age ranges. My infant daughter suffered much, and you describe our first year home quite well! I wish I had these questions and answers back then. (Though like you said, no one REALLY knows until they live it.) I have a friend who adopted an older infant that was horribly abused and alternately neglected which significantly impacted their first year at home too. Granted, this isn't the norm, but then again, when we accept a referral, we don't really know what our child's background is. Better to be prepared than not.

These are great questions! And I love your ending. You're absolutely right. I wouldn't change all that we had gone through for anything! It was so much hard work and commitment, but so worth it in the end!
Anderson Crew said…
I think these questions and the "what will be your response when XYZ happens in your home" should be part of the process, a requirement like you said...

If you were both ready to adopt right now, what age would you lean towards?

We had been discussing 4-8years old, not much diff than we adopted this time...but then we got prego and put that on hold *smile*
the tjeps said…
thank you carole - i have been looking for something to keep me busy this week while waiting for our 2nd court date - this list ought a do it! :) i think that it is great for you to put this out there, and what a wonderful resource for us waiting families. i think that you could sum the whole list up under one of your points "are you ready and willing to place your expectations at the feet of jesus" i love that when i read this my thought was "i will" but then i thought "um, i am?" what a great reminder! thank you -

how do i link this to my blog - i am so computer illiterate and i love how you referenced jillian's blog - teach me! :)

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