Adopting an older child can be a bit intimidating at first. There has always been a myth that older kids are troubled or have something wrong with them. Kids who have been in foster care are not there because of anything they did. Their parents were unable to take care of them through no fault of their own. Still, older children have a past and probably went through some difficult times surrounding their removal from their home by the state. It's best to know what you are getting into ahead of time so you know if you are properly equipped to meet all of the child’s needs.
*Why was the child removed from the home? Knowing the cause of removal may help you to understand what they have been through. The answer may help you be more compassionate and relatable.
*Does the child have any specific needs regarding his health or psychological therapy? It is important to know if you will need to facilitate extra care and frequent visits to medical offices.
*How is the child doing in school? Sometimes kids in foster care fall behind academically from the disruption in their lives. You should know if they need help from you or assistance from a tutor.
*Does the child have siblings? Biological siblings are extremely important. Unfortunately, siblings are not always placed in foster care or adopted together. You should be encouraging of sibling relationships. Willingness to transport the child to visits with siblings on occasion will go along way with building the relationship with your child.
I second asking all of those questions above, because if it
were me I would want to know all of those answers! One way that a lot of people adopt older children is through the foster system. If this is how you want to proceed, I
would also want to know specifics about if the child had any signs of an attachment
disorder and, if so, how the social worker would best suggest therapeutic parenting
for me, the foster parent. I would want to know if reunification was likely,
and how best I could support the child and his parents, and how he was doing in
therapy, or if he wasn’t in therapy when he could start! I think I would also want to know his
interests so that I could prepare a space for him before he comes, if possible,
and how we would do visits with his friends from school and his bio siblings,
if any. I would want to know how to best give him stability—does he go to church
and where, so that we could continue his practices of faith, does he play any after-school
sports or take any lessons, and does he have any big days or special projects
coming up at school. I would want to know how much contact he was allowed to
have with his bio family and if he had any relatives living nearby that we
could have contact with. Basically, I would want to know anyone and everyone,
and anything and everything that we could keep from his past, in order to make
his life as stable and normal as possible. Finally, I would definitely ask for
as much information about the “game plan” as possible—how long he was expected
to be in our home, and how best we could support his family and encourage the reunification
so that he could go back home—with his parents-- as soon as possible.