Adopting an older child has been compared to entering a marriage; both parties come to the relationship with previous experiences, knowledge, values and skills. It takes work to make a marriage successful. Older children are often survivors of terrible situations; they come to their families with behaviors that worked for them in the situation they were in but are often not as functional in a healthy and positive family environment.
Many children who are adopted when older have suffered trauma in their life. Traumatized children may demonstrate an array of emotional difficulties—fear, withdrawal, anger or depression. They may have behavior difficulties—poor interpersonal boundaries, not telling the truth, hoarding or taking things that don’t belong to them. Often, there are value differences between the adoptive parent and adoptee because both had a life and experiences before they joined together as a family.
Consistent love and commitment go a long way to changing these issues for the older adoptee. Parents will be challenged to figure out what they can accept and what they need to work out to help their child change. Sometimes professional help is needed as the adoptive family works on becoming a blended family.