So, I started my blog a good 10 months ago, and then it kind of petered off. I have issues writing about my children; I don’t want to invade their privacy; I constantly battle with what to share and not to share. But recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what I could add to the adoption blogging world, and I’ve come up with one thing (there may be more, but this is a start): my children are very, very old.
As a point of clarity, the adoption world has a somewhat warped view of age (anyone over 3 is “old”), but even by adoption standards my children are old. They are so old that I’m reluctant to share their ages on social media as it makes them a little too identifiable for comfort. Let’s just say they were in “upper primary school” at the time of placement (and one has since aged out of that bracket).
We entered the process around two and a half years ago with the intention of adopting two children who were as young as possible. At our first meeting we said “two under 5s” because we wanted to seem “open” (I kid you not). Somehow in a relatively short space of time that criteria got extended to consider any children up to the age of 10, and ended up with us deliberately focusing on the over 5s and adopting in the over 7 range!
So, what changed for us? I guess several things. First, to put it crudely: supply and demand. At the time we started the process, we learnt that very young children were in short supply but high demand from adopters. So we decided to broaden our options. Secondly, reading the profiles of actual children. When you adopt older children, they come with a set of interests, quirks, likes and dislikes, diagnoses, identification of emotional and behavioural issues, and so on. We discovered that we were more drawn to these types of profiles; in our minds there was more uncertainty with younger children and therefore more uncertainty about whether we were equipped to meet their needs. Thirdly, at the end of the day, we signed up to adopt a family, and not a baby. We kept asking ourselves the questions: why not a 5-year old? Why not an 8-year old? Why not a 10-year old? No matter how young you adopt them, they will all grow up into those ages anyway! Children of a range of ages need a family, and we were able to provide a family, so as long as it feels like a good match, then why not?
Yes, there are undoubtedly challenges. Statistics are not on our side in these types of age brackets. We have missed out on a lot of our children’s lives. So, so many milestones. Trauma is meshed together with learned behaviour in a way that becomes quite difficult to disentangle. And there are lots of gaps in their life story, so we’re not quite sure what most of the trauma was exactly, except that it was chronic.
I would like to write some more blogs that tease out some of these things in greater detail. When I was trying to decide whether to adopt Boy and Girl I scoured the blogosphere for some info on adopting “old old” children, and found very little, in the UK at least. I think it might be useful to highlight some of the challenges and opportunities, and perhaps even convince some unsuspecting prospective adopter who happens upon this blog that they should embark on this journey too! Because it’s a really weird thing – I’m not honestly sure whether I would recommend adoption or not (it’s a complicated thing to recommend), BUT… if you have decided on adoption, I would definitely recommend adopting older children.