Friday, February 22, 2013

Opening Our Hearts to Big Kid Adoption

As a part of our homestudy, Andrew and I had to spell out specifically the characteristics of the children we would be willing to adopt and be approved specifically to parent each of these characteristics. One of those characteristics was age. When Andrew and I first thought about adopting, we wanted to adopt a baby or toddler! We thought we would request age 3 and under. Then we upped the age to age 5, then to age 6. Our homestudy will approve us to adopt 2 children, related or unrelated, ages 5 and under.

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!)

Waiting Parents...

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.

The Fears...

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:
Blog Posts on Older Child Adoption:


  1. Going into our adoption we were adamant we would only consider a child three and under. God's humor brought us a son age 6 but the size and dev level of a 3yo, lol. We would not have him had we followed our plans. He is learning fast and a perfect fit for our family. :)

  2. Our age parameters are similar. One child, either gender, age 0-7. Oh by the way, I got the cookbook Bulgarian Rhapsody for my birthday last week...I think you recommended that to me. I'll let you know what I think of it, but it looks great so far!

    1. Wow! Our adoptions are so similar in many ways. It is fun to "know" (thru the bloggosphere) another couple who is at the same stage in the adoption process from the same country as we are!

    2. Can't wait to hear how you like the cook book because I am asking for it for my birthday too!