November is National Adoption Month and I’m proud to help spread the word about older kid adoption. Adoption is a subject that is very close to my heart. I am an adoptive mom. Recently, my cousin also chose to adopt through the U.S. Foster care system. I’ve shared my own adoption story on this site many times, but this year I’m thrilled to share my cousin’s.
The theme for National Adoption Month is, “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.” That’s because older children and youth still have many big milestones in their life they need a family for.
My cousins Rob & Alicia adopted a child who was 11. Here is an account of their experience:
To say that the last few years of our lives have been the best years of our lives would be an understatement. Our son came into our lives when he was ten years old. We will never forget what it was like the day we met him. Boy, were we nervous. We were also excited, scared, overwhelmed….Wecould go on and on….
We adopted our son when he was eleven. To say that was easily, hands down, the best thing we ever did would be an understatement. Our son really is an amazing person. He is smart, funny, and overall a really good person.
We look at the adoption not just as us deciding to adopt our son. As an older child, he also made the decision to adopt us. In our opinion, that is one of the things which makes our family special. We have chosen each other, for better or for worse, to spend our lives with. Isn’t that awesome that he adopted us too?!
To say it’s been easy would not be accurate. It’s been a learning experience for all of us. However, whatever we did not know about being parents our son taught us. He showed us what it really means to love unconditionally, to grow together, the true meaning of acceptance and overall, how to be better people.
Adopting our son was easily the best decision we ever made. We can’t imagine our lives without him in it. He shows us on a daily basis what it is like to want to be better people and shows us strength, determination and to never give up. He is the true definition of resilience and for him giving us these lessons, we are forever grateful.
Please consider adopting an older child. They need your love just as much as a child of any age needs love. Every day he shows us what the true meaning of love is. For that we are forever grateful.
There are currently 415,000 children in the U.S. foster care system and 108,000 are waiting to be adopted. AdoptUSKids’ maintains a national photo listing service for children waiting to be adopted. Since the project launched in 2002, more than 25,000 children who were once photo listed on adoptuskids.org have been adopted and nearly 38,000 families have registered to adopt through the website. Nevertheless, older youth are disproportionately represented – approximately 41 percent of children and youth photo listed on adoptuskids.org are between 15 and 18 years old, but only 17 percent of those adopted have been in this age group.
Older youth and teens have lower adoption rates than younger children, and they often wait longer to be adopted. But no matter their age, all kids need a supportive, loving home and the teenage years are a critical period for growth.
Have you considered older kid adoption but been afraid you wouldn’t qualify? Think again!
Some of the Misperceptions about Adoption from Foster Care:
- Adoption is expensive. Unlike the private adoption of an infant or adopting internationally, there are virtually no costs associated with adoption from the US child welfare system. In addition, the vast majority of youth adopted from foster care are also eligible for monthly adoption assistance up to the level of the foster care rate.
- You have to be married. You do not have to be married to adopt in most states. Many children have been very successfully adopted by single parents. Single-parent families accounted for 29 percent of all adoptions from foster care in 2014 (AFCARS).
- You have to have a college degree. Having a high school diploma or college education is not required. What is important is that you are stable, flexible, and compassionate, and that you have a good sense of humor. Most importantly, you must have the support and commitment to raise a child and to be there for him throughout his life.
- You have to own a home and each child has to have their own room. You can rent your home or live in an apartment or a mobile home so long as your living situation is a stable one.
- You have to be of child-bearing age to adopt. Experienced parents and empty-nesters are encouraged to adopt. In most instances, you’re eligible to adopt regardless of age, income, marital status or sexual orientation.
- You can only adopt a child who is the same race and ethnicity as you. Federal law prohibits the delay or denial of an adoptive placement based on the race or ethnicity of a child in U.S. foster care and the prospective parent or parents who are seeking to adopt them. The only exception to this law is the adoption of Native American children where special considerations apply.
- You can’t adopt if you’re in the military. Military families stationed overseas and within the U.S. are eligible to adopt children from the U.S. foster care system.
I hope you’ll join my family and me in celebrating National Adoption month. Share this post or one of the videos linked within. Consider fostering or adopting if you have the room in your heart and home. Just like the videos say – you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent!