So why did we up the age?
The Needs of Waiting Children...
We upped the age because we found out that UNICEF says 95% percent of orphans in the world are over the age of five. Most orphans are "big kids." Older children are waiting to be adopted in many, many countries.
According to the US Department of State, 55% of children adopted internationally are age 2 and under. Most adoption agencies consider older child adoption to start at age 3. A huge need exist for parents to adopt older children! (Young orphans also need a family! Every child should grow up in a loving family!)
We upped the age because there are many prospective parents are waiting for young children. Like us, most people want to adopt a baby, the younger the better. In all countries that allow international adoption, the younger the age you request, the longer your will be waiting to adopt. We don't want to join the ranks of parents waiting to be matched with an infant. Andrew and I don't feel it is right for us to be waiting years and years just because we want a baby, when older children are waiting. While we set our parameters so that we could still adopt a young baby or toddler if there is a young baby or toddler who needs a family, we also wanted to make our parameters such that we wouldn't exclude the possibility of adopting a kindergarten/preschool age child who needs a family. We want to set our parameters as broad as possible so that children won't have to wait for a family any longer than necessary.
Sometimes, Andrew and I have some fears about about "big kid adoption." Adopting a baby seems safer and easier. A baby has experienced less trauma, neglect, and abuse. Andrew and I could start from the beginning with a clean slate if we adopted a baby. If we adopt an older child, we may have years of heartache to help heal. (Some families also have the concerns about other children already in their home. This is one reason Andrew and I decided to adopt before having biological children.)
But Andrew and I did not set out to adopt because we wanted safe and easy parenthood. (If that was our goal, hello pregnancy!) We set out to adopt because we wanted to give family to children who were waiting for a family. For us, this means children up to age 6. Why 6? Well, we aren't prepared to parent a teenager! Seriously, we did not feel that the age gap would be appropriate if we went to old. We had to set the age limit somewhere. We wanted to put the best interest of the child as a priority. What age range could we best support as parents? Our other main priority is our marriage. Our marriage is the foundation of our family. It is important to the well being of our future children that Andrew and I have a strong marriage. Parenthood in general brings new stresses into a marriage. Adoption can add additional stresses to a marriage. We had to look realistically at what we could handle emotionally, physically, financially, etc.
Not Being Dictated by Our Fears...
We knew God was calling us to adopt. We couldn't let our fears keep us from following God's plan for our lives. Instead, of being dictated by our fears, we tried to find answers to our fears. A favorite quote I once heard was:
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst!
This quote is perfect for the optimist in me and the pessimist in Andrew! Researching the difficulties involved in older child adoption, as well as resources to help work through these difficulties, is an important part of our adoption journey. Finding help and answers is putting to rest some of our fears! No it won't be easy, but many people have found it doable and rewarding!
Could you be the family for an older child? If so, don't be scared, get prepared!
Resources to Prepare:
- Empowered to Connect Conference/Workshop for Foster and Adoptive Parents (Looking forward to attending this year!)
- Created for Care retreat for adoptive mommas (Haven't been yet, but hoping to attend next year!)
- Local counsels/therapist that specialize in helping children who have been adopted
- Adopting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky
- Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky
- The Connected Child by Dr. Karen Purvis, Dr. David Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine
- Parenting with Love and Logic by Cline and Fay
- Creating a Family Radio Show. (Tons of archived shows to listen to about adoption with practical advice from food and sleep issues to transracial adoption. I may not always agree with some view points on this show. However, I do enjoy listening to the shows about adoption and have learned a lot. I just filter the topics and view points through my world view.)
- On Big Kid Adoption by Lara, Mother of Ambrose (adopted at age 4) and Mary (adopted at age 8)
- Older Child Adoption is Hard by Dana, Mother of Wenxin
- The Good, The Bad, and the Down Right Ugly: Realities of Older Child Adoption;and Part 2 of The Good, The Bad, and the Down Right Ugly: Realities of Older Child Adoption by Selina, Mother of Johanna (adopted at age 14)
- Older Child Adoption by Jean, Mother of Mia (adopted at age 11), Sarah (adopted at age 8), Emma & Ellie (adopted at age 8 and 10)
- Older Child Adoption by Janal, Mother of Justice (adopted at age 8)