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Adopting an older child? Here are some things to remember

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2021 | Family Law

Countless would-be parents turn to adoption for one reason or another. While many parents hope to adopt newborns, it’s not uncommon for adoptions to take place when a child is already a toddler, pre-schooler or school-aged. Adopting an “older” child can bring some unique challenges.

There are specific attributes that adoptive parents should have if they’re planning to pursue this family-building option. 

Flexibility and patience are important

For anyone, the move from childlessness to parenthood comes with some surprises. Children are all alike in that they experience a variety of emotions and behavioral concerns as they grow. Adoption can magnify these concerns, though, particularly with an older child.

The older an adoptive child is, the more likely that it is that they will suffer from anxiety, attachment or trauma issues related to their past. You’ll need to be committed to helping them no matter what each new day holds. 

Your self-assuredness sends a message to your child that you’re the authority figure in your relationship, but you shouldn’t be so rigid in your parenting style that you aren’t open to shifting your way of doing things. There will be a period of adjustment for you both, so take things slowly.

Compassion and tolerance are key

Your child’s personality and behavior may not be exactly as you dreamed. You must embrace your differences and tap into them as you grow your relationship. You should provide a shoulder for your child to cry on, a nonjudgmental listening ear for them to confide in and unconditional love, even when conflict arises.

Every parent struggles with this, but the struggle can be magnified when you weren’t there to see your adopted child’s personal development from birth. Be patient.

Respect and reliability are essential

Your adoptive child will ultimately come to look up to you as a role model. They’ll repeat anything you say and do. You need to be clear and respectful in communicating with your child and others. 

You’ll also need to be reliable in keeping commitments. Your adoptive son or daughter may suffer from anxiety and old trauma that makes even small lapses in your judgment or commitment seem magnified. 

You can get help preparing for an adoption

New Hampshire has various qualifying criteria that prospective adoptive parents must meet to move forward with the adoption process. A family law attorney can guide you through all of this once you identify a child you’re planning to adopt here in Salem.

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