If this were the case we would never have adopted our two girls.

 

To be honest, when we first discussed the idea of adoption we were looking at older children anyway as we thought they would fit into our family easier as my husband’s four children were 17 or older. We had no idea that there was an age when it was deemed that children were too old to adopt.

 

Initially, we were looking for one girl of around the age of six to eight years.  Our minds were changed by our social worker who, after a number of home study visits, told us that she was thinking more of matching us with a sibling group of children a little younger. This surprised us, as my husband was in his early 50s and so we naively assumed that we wouldn’t be considered for young children.  However, on reflection one child may have felt a bit of an outsider within our already large family and so the idea of siblings took hold. At least they would have each other for support.

 

From that moment on we only looked at sibling groups when looking through Be My Parent etc.  This goes to show that sometimes the social workers who work with you know more about you than you do yourselves.  It was certainly the case with us, as she had to speak to all of Alex’s birth children and his ex-wife in order for us to be approved as adopters.

 

Taking on an older child does come with its own challenges though.  They will have lived through more traumatic experiences and so may have more challenging behavior because of this. They will also have some knowledge of their past and will need support to make sense of it.

 

Gonzo has come through things fairly well, but we have found that she didn’t learn the basics of what was right or wrong as a young child and we are finding that in some areas she has the behavior of a much younger child and needs a lot more nurturing than other children of her age. 

 

It can be really frustrating and at times we both have to remind ourselves of what she has been through in order to understand elements of her behaviour.  On the plus side, we know her medical history and we will never have to tell her that she is adopted; she is more than aware of the movement between her first home, her foster home and our home.

 If you are worried that older children will find attachment difficult, don’t be.  The girls had an amazing foster mum who really prepared them well for their move into a new family. Gonzo does not always give hugs as readily as Spud, but they truly are genuine when you do receive one. Although we do still have to manage her behavior at times, it is so much better than it was in foster care. She was desperate for a ‘forever family’ and knowing that she is staying here has meant that she has never felt the need to damage her toys, her room etc. They are hers after all!

 

Spud has fewer memories, but is still aware of her journey so far. Her behaviour is much more age-appropriate and often much easier to deal with, with her three year old tantrums being a sight to behold. She would now be classed as being too old, which I find really difficult to understand as she is so little and has so much life to look forward to. 

 

Gonzo would be lost without Spud, and if four was too old for adoption then for Spud to have had a ‘forever family’ they would have to have been separated. I dread to think how Gonzo would have coped without her little sister, and when I see them playing and laughing together I feel honoured that I have been able to play a part in keeping them together.

Spud & Gonzo go back to school

Sarah and Martin - Adopting an older child