National Adoption Month 2016 press release

“November is National Adoption Month. Every year, more than 100,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system seek permanent families. Having permanent family connections are critical for older youth to have legal and emotional support as they transition into adulthood and strive for achievement, growth, and well-being.

National Adoption Month is an initiative sponsored by the Children’s Bureau, in partnership with AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway. Each November, National Adoption Month brings awareness to the needs of children and youth seeking and waiting a “forever family.” This year, specific attention is being paid to the needs of the thousands of older youth, ages 15–18, who face the challenges of aging out of foster care and beginning their independent, young adult lives. The National Adoption Month website, https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/, contains an entire section dedicated to providing adoption and permanency-related resources and tips for families, including families considering adoption and families that have adopted. The website also supports child welfare professionals in preparing families for adoption and talking with older youth, who may feel they are too old to be adopted.”

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Personal growth in adoptive parents

Adoptive parents may experience profound personal growth as a result of adopting and parenting an older child. Adoptive parents become staunch advocates for their child’s learning, development, and health care and they develop new leadership and social networking skills. Their compassion for and understanding of other people’s struggles and pain may also grow as a result of the adoption experience. Parents who adopt transracially and/or transculturally may experience shifts in how they view other cultures or societies. Some adoptive parents end up becoming advocates for abused children, children in foster care or orphanages, and/or children living in poverty. Adoption changes parents for the better come to view the world through their children’s eyes. It is not unheard of for parents to feel such a profound sense of purpose from adopting that they end up adopting, three, four, or even ten more children!    

Authors interviewed on ‘Creating a Family’ radio program

Creating a Family, the national adoption & infertility education and support nonprofit, provides information & resources on domestic infant adoption, foster care adoption, international adoption, embryo donation/adoption, attachment, transracial adoption, and adoptive parenting. We also provide resources on infertility, fertility treatment, IVF, donor sperm, donor egg, surrogacy, infertility grief, and coping with infertility.

Listen to our radio interview with Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero and Victor Groza, authors of Adopting Older Children

Source: Adopting Older Kids: A Practical Guide

Adoptive parents need a strong support system

It is critical that prospective adoptive parents evaluate their formal and informal support systems before adopting an older child. Adoptive parents need the support and understanding of family, friends, community members and professionals. They need to surround themselves with people who understand and support their decision to adopt and who respect their child. Adoptive parents of older children are incredibly resourceful. They find support and understanding in online or in-person adoptive family support groups and develop nurturing relationships with other adoptive families in the community. Adoptive parents of older child automatically become part of a very special community of parents who share many of the same challenges, joys and hopes.

Why we wrote this book

Over 400,000 children enter the U.S. foster care system each year and about half will not be able to return to their biological families. That means a large number of children each year are eligible to be adopted. Once they turn ten their chances of being adopted decrease significantly. Many older children will linger in the foster care system for many years. Each year about 26,000 youths age out of the foster care system without ever being adopted. By writing this book we wanted to educate the public about the needs of these children and encourage more to consider older child adoption both here and abroad.

Here is a video of Stephanie saying a few words about the needs of older children in the foster care system, how many are eligible to be adopted, and the challenges faced by youth who age of the system without a permanent family.

How can overwhelmed adoptive families get the help and support they need?

Adopting an older child can bring great stress to a family when the child has significant behavioral problems, developmental issues and/or attachment problems. In some cases a child’s behavior is so difficult that a family will need to seek significant professional support and services. Parents confronting serious challenges should first communicate with their mental health professional(s) about the daily challenges and stresses they are confronting. The therapist may recommend family therapy and/or he may recommend a new course of treatment for the child or a referral to a psychiatrist if he isn’t already seeing one. The family should try to get a diagnosis for the child so they can move forward with appropriate treatment. If the situation does not improve with treatment parents may have to consider respite care to allow them to take breaks from the daily stress of raising a behaviorally disturbed child. They might also opt to send their child into residential treatment or to a therapeutic boarding school. Whatever plan they develop, parents should maintain a steadfast commitment to the child. Even if the child cannot live at home they should always consider themselves their child’s permanent family. Transferring custody of their child to a new family without agency involvement or legally dissolving the adoption should never be considered. The vast majority of adopted children will do well in their new homes but about ten percent of older adopted children will have significant behavioral problems. The parents and families of these children deserve the unflagging support and empathy of other parents, teachers, extended family and mental health professionals.

Who can adopt an older child?

We add a video clip to this post

Adopting Older Children

The answer is probably you, if you are a caring mature adult who wants to open your heart and home to a waiting child. The AdoptUsKids public service announcements say it best, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” Adoptive parents of older children, adopted from another country or domestically include people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, single persons, same-sex couples (whether married or un-married), persons and couples over the age of fifty, and lower income singles and couples. Although it is easier to adopt an older child as compared to an infant, there continue to be some barriers to adoption for some people. For example, many countries prohibit foreign same-sex couples from adopting, although the U.S. is not one of them, and some agencies still prohibit same-sex couples from adopting domestically. Transracial adoption, typically involving a white parent adopting a Latino or African-American child, has…

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