21 Things You Should Know About Adopting an Older Child

21 Things You Should Know About Adopting an Older Child


  1. Your life will change drastically. You think it will be hard. Plan on it being 10 times harder than what you think.
  2. You may adopt an older child, but they will be considerably younger mentally, socially, and emotionally.
  3. You may need to take everything you know about parenting and throw it out the window and start from scratch. There’s a completely different method of parenting for adoption.
  4. There will be developmental stages that they will need to go back and pick up before they can move on. This may mean feeding a teenager from a bottle or rocking a 60 lb boy.
  5. There will be a huge learning curve on the part of your biological kids. Adding a sibling close in age is no joke.
  6. You will spend large portions of your day supervising play, being a mediator, and a counselor. Your day just got fewer hours in it.
  7. When your child begins to feel comfortable with you, he will begin to tell you things that will absolutely break your heart. You will cry with him, you will feel anger with him, and you will bond with him. You will go to bed many nights absolutely emotionally spent, and you will wake up the next day to do it all over again.
  8. You will never take the place of the biological parents. No matter what happened, they will want to go “back home”. You cannot take that personally.
  9. Instead of raising your family by yourselves, you will now have a team of people helping. You will have therapists, doctors, and counselors who you now consider family. Embrace the help.
  10. You will now have lots of awkward moments, trying to explain why you suddenly have an extra kid. You will endure embarrassing moments where people point this out loudly and say rude things. Educate instead of fighting it and getting mad. Most people have good intentions.
  11. You will have to fight for simple things. You will have to fight for doctor’s offices to call your child by their adopted name. You will fight for a court date to stick. You will fight. You will need to be assertive.
  12. You will need to be comfortable (or at least willing) to have long discussions, to talk about difficult subjects, to hear tough things.
  13. You will need to be willing to share your child. They’ve had lots of people in their life. Some will need to remain in their life. You will need to be willing to allow that.
  14. Hurtful things will be spoken. You will need to learn to decipher those hurtful things to find the deeper meaning. Speaking the language of brokenness is a plus.
  15. Your weeks and months and years will be marked by a clear two-steps-forward, one-step-back pattern. You will have a great week where you will see progress, followed by a terrible week where you will see some of that progress lost.
  16. You will need a rock-solid support system. A system where people get you and understand. Find it.
  17. Your child will act differently in different settings. I call this the chameleon effect. He or she will have the ability to be whatever they need to be depending on the circumstances and the company. You will spend much of your time trying to figure out who they really are. Clue: They probably don’t know either.
  18. You will likely feel like you’re drowning the first six months. You will come out of this, but when you do, those six months will be a blur.
  19. You will need to remind yourself why you decided to adopt often. This fact will be your anchor during the one-step-back times.
  20. You will need to talk about the future together openly. This is great medicine for hurting children. Helping them find a direction for their life is a big part of healing.
  21. Your hard times will be hard. But the good times will be great!


21 Things You Should Know About Adopting an Older Child

The boys and I just finished reading Brother Andrew, the biography. I love this quote. And I love having a vision that scares me just a little bit!

Adoption is so unique, and when you read through this list and find beauty inside the heartache and brokenness, that’s when you know that your heart might be open to adoption.  If that’s the case, please pray about it.  There are lots of children waiting for a home, and maybe your home would be a perfect fit for one of them.

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