Potential Problems When Adopting Older Children or Teenagers

Rebecca Scarlett By Rebecca Scarlett, 17th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Adoption

Issues to consider that will help you decide if you can handle the challenge of adopting an older child or teenager.

Considering Adoption?

Adoption is a wonderful way to welcome a child into your life. There are many reasons to adopt, from infertility to simply wishing to give a child the loving home they deserve. Adoption certainly comes with its own parenting challenges, however, which need to be carefully considered before deciding to adopt and kept in mind while parenting. One of these challenges is adopting an older child. Because infants are so cute, it is guaranteed that they will be adopted quickly, but older children, especially teenagers, have a much lower chance of getting adopted, and a much higher chance of living in foster homes or institutions until adulthood. If adopting an older child is something you are interested in doing, you are a wonderful person for giving someone a chance he/she may not have gotten, but you should still be prepared for the issues you will face when doing so.

How Much Were You Hoping To Shape Your Child's Morals and Values?

As an older child's personality is already formed (depending on just how old he/she is) you may never be able to parent in the "normal" way. Parenting a biological child involves quite a bit of control over the personality and habits of your child, and you will have to realize you will not be able to "mould" an older child in your image, and that the child will likely resent you for trying. Having lived with rejection, the child will be very sensitive to any cues from you that they are not "good enough", and trying to hard to force him/her to change opinions he/she has formed will cause the child to act out and rebel against you. If you want to help your adopted child become more optimistic, you must realize that you cannot argue with them that the world is a good place. You must simply do what is in your power to make his/her world a better place, and wait. An older child, especially one that has been jaded by rejection or loss, will not simply believe what you say on faith.

Are You Willing To Take The Child's Past Situation(s) Into Consideration?

With an older adopted child, you will need to be more flexible about rules than you would have to be with a biological child. A biological child is raised with his/her parents' rules from early on, and is used to them. A teenager who has been bounced around the foster system may have been exposed to different sets of rules, and may have discovered that running away is a good way to deal with rules he/she doesn't like, as running away often will lead to a switch in foster homes, and therefore a switch in rules. More negotiation with the adopted child would be necessary: asking what kinds of rules he/she has had to adhere to, which ones he/she felt were fair or unfair, and what they think a child of his/her age's role in a family should be. This opening up and respecting your adopted child will help ease a lot of the tension and heartache that can come from adopting a child that is really no longer a child but still needs the guidance and protection of more experienced adults.

How Important Is It To You That Your Child Share Your Religion?

You will need to respect your adopted child's beliefs. You may have biological children that you have raised in your own religion, but your adopted child may have been raised a different religion, or have experienced many, and chosen one, or none at all. Not only should you not force your adopted child to attend your church if that is not his/her preference, but if he/she wishes to practice his/her own faith, you should be supportive, offering rides to church/temple/mosque, etc. If you can't stand the thought of a child of a different religion, make sure the child you adopt belongs to your own.

How Soon Do You Expect Your Child To Love and Trust You?

An older adopted child will (most likely) not want to be comforted and cuddled in the same way as a biological child. It may be many years of hard work and tears before your adopted teenager even hugs you, depending on what he/she has been through and his/her personality. You may feel like you have made financial and emotional sacrifices for nothing, if this is the case. Remember to behave like an adult, and do not take these feelings out on your adopted child. He/she has most likely been through a lot and will not trust easily.
Adopting an older child is a wonderful thing to do and can be very rewarding, but also very frustrating. Have a plan in place to deal with stress and hurt feelings, and before you know it, you won't know how you lived without your adopted child.


Adoption, Problems Adopting Teenagers, Teenagers

Meet the author

author avatar Rebecca Scarlett
Rebecca Scarlett is a professional freelance writer with over 14 years of experience. She writes articles, essays, blogs, short stories, plays, poetry, songs, novels, and does copy editing. She has been published in print and extensively online. Scar...(more)

Share this page

moderator johnnydod moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar vpaulose
25th Mar 2011 (#)

An interesting and informative article. Thank you Rebecca.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Pat
11th Jun 2011 (#)

Very good article, well written and informative. Thank you

Reply to this comment

author avatar Erik
7th May 2012 (#)

thank you for this article.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?