Families hoping to adopt a newborn or infant are the norm in private adoption, but baby adoption is not the only kind available: adoption is possible throughout a child’s life, no matter his or her age. Private adoption agencies, and especially adoptions done internationally or through the foster care system, have plenty of older children waiting for their forever home.
For some, the answer is clear: only adopting a baby will do. For others, the answer isn’t so easy. If you are open to either and wondering which is right for you—baby adoption or adoption of an older child—there are many things to consider. The place to start, however, is with figuring out what you most want out of adopting a child: Is it to experience parenting from day one, joyfully living out the loving give and take between parent and child? Or are you interested in devoting yourself to someone in need and like the thought of providing a home to a child who may not otherwise have a stable family life?
If it’s the first, then baby adoption is right for you. If second, then consider the special role of being an adoptive parent to an older child.
Parents who have adopted an older child, or who are thinking about it, will need to love their child through the many issues that can come from being adopted later in life. Those who are adopted after knowing other caregivers will likely have some problems adjusting to a new home, and it is also true that many older children available for adoption have had bad experiences that will continue to impact them throughout life. Parenting a child in either circumstance will take special dedication and focus, and parents must commit to giving themselves completely to a child who may not always respond with the same love and devotion.
Don’t rush your adoption decision. Instead, take your time and do some research. A good place to begin is with Mardie Caldwell’s book, Called to Adoption: A Christian’s Guide to Answering the Call, as well as with talking to others to find out what their adoption experiences have been like.
Neither baby adoption nor older child adoption is more or less worthy than the other—both are wonderful, fulfilling, and very needed. Choosing between baby- and older child adoption must be based on what will be best for you, because what is best for you will also be best for your child, no matter her age.