Blog: Adopting an older child

When you think about the term adoption you may instantly think of bringing home a baby or toddler to become part of your family. But, what if the right child for you was older, a three-year-old? Or even a child of six or seven? In this post, we will discuss why you should consider adopting an older child.

Immediate Need

Here at PACT, we are always on the lookout for adopters for older children as they often wait longer to be adopted than younger children. By considering adopting an older child you may find there are more children available which means you can potentially start or continue your adoption journey  quicker.

Easier to communicate

With an older child, you can instantly have fun with them, laugh, joke about, and start making a connection.
Your connection with a baby is different as their cognitive skills are still developing. But with an older child, they are more likely to understand what is going on and you can have a conversation, learn about their likes and dislikes, their humour and start to engage with them in lots of activities. They may be able to tell you how they are feeling and any worries they may have, and you can help them start to feel safe and secure. 

Adopting an older child could be the perfect fit for your family

If you already have older children and are looking for a new addition to the family, an older child may have more in common and enjoy similar activities as children already in the family.  As a parent you may feel you can give both children opportunities, without being tied down with sleep, nappy changing or feeding programmes. It could also mean that your friends and support network are parents with similar aged children. Age difference is an important factor when it comes to family dynamics but we do recommend that adopted children are at least two years younger than any existing children.

Less uncertainty

PACT social workers will work on your behalf to ensure you receive all of the information available on any children you may feel are a good fit to grow your family. This can be a lot easier with older children as the professionals involved in supporting children will have more information about their development and their needs and understand how those needs can be met. Naturally, with younger children there can be a higher degree of uncertainty and knowledge about the children’s needs. It is often a misconception that older children will have experienced more trauma in their young lives. For some older children they may have experienced a short period of trauma while a younger child may have experienced proportionally more; each child’s experiences are different.

There are still lots of ‘firsts’

Lots of prospective adopters consider younger children because of the firsts they can picture sharing as a family with a younger child. However, our adopters often attest to the joys of many many firsts with older children; from the big celebrations of first birthday party as a family, first Christmas, first holiday, first day of school to all the many and daily firsts; first cuddle, first shoelace tied, first ‘I love you mum/dad’.

You won’t be alone

Adopting an older child can be challenging but it can also be very rewarding. However, one thing we can say is you won’t do this alone. Here at PACT, we have a wide support network for parents considering adopting as well as for the adopted children. From support groups and therapeutic sessions to an education specialist at the end of the phone and the round the clock online resources on The Adopter Hub. You will have access to a wide array of support and expertise to help you and your adopted child through this journey.

How PACT can help

We have been building and strengthening families for more than 100 years, so we have a wealth of knowledge and support to share when it comes to adoption and adopting an older child.

As one of the UK’s leading independent adoption charities, we place children with secure and loving families. Whether they are young or older, have additional needs or simply need to feel safe and protected to enable them to heal from their early life experiences, we are here to find them a home that is the best fit for them. 

We do not pressure adopters to take any particular child but we do encourage people thinking about adoption to keep an open mind, so they don’t miss the perfect child for them. We are more than happy to discuss what considering an older child might mean for you.

Our award-winning FACTS service is there for parents and children and we offer a wide range of counselling, Theraplay, creative art therapy and life story work to help children overcome difficult pasts for those that may have suffered early trauma or neglect.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to adopt an older child or would like to attend one of our adoption events and talk to parents who have already been through the process, contact us today.