Older Child Adoption : One young family’s story
Thank you to our friends who are sharing their story today about how they adopted their 15 year old son from the Ukraine only a few months ago! This young family was not planning on older child adoption when they first started praying about adoption, but they knew it was meant to be when they hosted an older boy through God’s Waiting Children. Our family has not adopted an older child (yet), but we know this is a huge need and we hope that Ally’s story inspires someone to consider adopting an older child as well! Thank you for sharing – here is Ally sharing about their adoption journey in her own words….
Being called to adopt a child is not for everyone, this is a fact I know to be true. For my husband and myself we have always known we wanted to help children without families in some way. We discussed the option of foster care and didn’t feel it was the right fit for our family at that time. We had friends and family members who had either adopted or were adopted themselves, and felt this was the path we were meant to follow.
We are a “younger” family, both of us now just 30 with two biological children ages 5 and 2. We started this journey though about a year and a half ago. We researched many different options, domestic versus international, countries, age and number of children we were open to adopt, and the list goes on. After many bumps in the road, changes of country, and lots of prayers we settled on the democratic republic of Congo, and a child up to the age of 5 so that our oldest would maintain their older sister status. So many people have talked to us about maintaining birth order, but we didn’t think our youngest would really know the difference.
A few months into the waiting process we were presented with the opportunity to host a 15 year old orphan from Ukraine for 5 weeks over the summer. We knew we were already busy and financially strapped from the adoption, but knew we could at least open our home to a child and shower them with love for 5 weeks. So we said yes and had no idea what we would do with a 15 year old boy. Our lives at this time were filled with nothing that a teenager would be interested in (lots of Disney junior and princesses), so what were we going to do with this kid.
We didn’t have to do anything! After he arrived he fit into our family as though he had always been there. It was the best five weeks of our lives and we were all devastated when it came time to say goodbye. How could we go on with our family without him there to be a part of it. It was clear that we couldn’t, and that god had a different plan for our adoption process. And so we changed directions again, to go down a path that we once did not believe was for our family.
The adoption process is like a roller coaster ride of emotions, legal loops, mountains high of paperwork and red tape, and a lot of faith and waiting while you keep climbing to reach the top. Adopting from Ukraine was relatively straight forward, and from the time we officially submitted our paperwork in country to the day he was ours was exactly four months (fast in the adoption world). We knew that our son had a broken past, as all orphans do, and that it was going to be a long road of healing we faced. So we hit the ground running and found a therapist that spoke his language and could help provide a safe place for him to vent about us, all the transitions, and to be an advocate for him with issues he might be having and not knowing what to do. This was the best choice we ever made! He loves his therapist, trusts their opinion and helps him to understand our perspective also. This has given him a voice, empowering him to talk about his what he thinks, feels, and dreams.
Every child no matter what age deserves to have people that love them and care for them, a family. I understand why people don’t want to adopt an older child, and think that they have been on their own too long and cannot be helped or change. But this is not true. If you are willing to put in the time, provide the love and guidance they need and set realistic expectations for them, they will be able to heal and learn to trust and be a part of a family. Older children are seen tough and act like they care about nothing, but they are like little kids desperate for praise and recognition, craving hugs and positive physical contact where they feel safe and respected. It is hard, heartbreaking and there are a lot of tears shed but this too shall pass.
The best part of adopting an older child is that they understand so much more than a younger child would. You are able to communicate using a translation program on your phone or computer (younger children can’t read or speak yet), so it allows for more open and honest communication. They don’t feel as isolated and alien in a new place without any way to communicate their needs or fears. Our son has picked up English so fast because he feels secure in knowing he can still ask questions in his own language when he doesn’t understand something.
Even better, there are no diapers, potty training, or waking up with nightmares in the middle of the night. We get to enjoy our time together, and have an amazingly open communication and understanding with our son because we are still able to remember what it was like to be his age. We have told him from the beginning we would rather him tell us the truth even if it is something we won’t like than to have him lie. And because of this he feels comfortable telling us about his past and things he has done or struggled with. He fights with our younger kids as though he has always been their brother, but would protect them with his life. When there are chores that need to be done, he does them without complaint and has a deeper appreciation for the little things we taken for granted.
It is not always sunshine and happiness, we have our arguments, we disagree, we continue to learn together what the other doesn’t like or feels hurt by. But we do this as a family and support each other through it. And this is what is most important, not where we come from or our past, but where we are now and the amazing future that awaits us.
Thank you again to Ally for sharing! Check out her family’s adoption story from the beginning at www.tinylittlefootprints.com.
If you would like information on how your family can host a child during the Winter or Summer there are several to choose from – God’s Waiting Children is the non profit organization that Ally and her Husband chose and they recommend checking them out!
If you are thinking “Oh man, that is so cool, I’d love to adopt but we could never afford to adopt.” Here is a little diddy I shared earlier – Adoption Grants (yep, free money for people who want to adopt!), a $13,000 tax credit for adoptive families (yep, more free money), Employer adoption benefits, and a boatload of money saving ideas —> How to Afford Adoption