Adoption Voices

Those who have adopted children 9 years of age or older, could you please share your experiences concerning bonding with them?

The oldest child we adopted had just turned 7 when she came to live with us. She is now 9 and we are thinking about adopting another 9 year old girl so she will have a sister closer to her age. She has been begging for one and we are excited about the possibility. I just wanted to hear some people's experiences with adopting children of that age or older and what it was like forming a bond or attachment issues you may have experienced. I know that each person's experience is different but would like to get some ideas of what to be prepared for. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts and experiences with me.

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We adopted a thirteen year old who had been in an orphanage most of her life in Thailand. She did need to regress and act much younger than her age to bond with us just like a little one. She wanted me to hold her and rock her a lot. This quickly became harder as she was growing quickly and I'm quite small, myself. She sometimes would suddenly throw two year old style tantrums or pout and whine. There was a stage where she'd hide behind me when she'd see people at church. She's been home for over a year now. She no longer searches for me immediately when I leave the room to go to the bathroom. The fits, whining and pouting don't happen as frequently or as long. But there are things that can trigger them again. Our daughter doesn't have a problem with affection. She wants a huge amount of it, sometimes so much so that I'm feeling smothered and worn out. I guess that's better than rejecting us. At first she cried for a sister. Now she says she would not want to share her parents with a sister. She says she'd hit the other child if we adopted another one.
Shannon,
My advice would be to adopt a child at least a year younger than your daughter. Both she and the new child will probably regress some when you adopt and having adopted two siblings after having an only child, we were very glad we had the forsight not to adopt a child close to our only child's age. Two years younger would be even better, honestly. My oldest is quite mature but he and his younger adopted brother, who is now nine, play together almost constantly. I do homeschool, which makes it much easier for siblings (and even parents) to bond effectively but even if you don't homeschool, having a nice age difference will help with all sorts of potential jealousies. Plus, if your current daughter is adopted, the new addition might trigger feelings she didn't expect. Better to have an age difference to reduce feelings of threat. That's just my two cents worth--you know your family best. Blessings!
Thank you for your replies. My father passed away April 17th so at this point any adoption of an older child is on hold.

I experienced many of the same things you spoke about, Chandra, with my now 9 year old daughter. Her behaviors were very often that of a three or four year old and she wanted to be held like a baby. She's bonded with us very well now and we've seen amazing growth from her. It's good to hear that even a child adopted at age 13 from an orphanage will bond so well. I also understand how difficult their need for affection can be. It is draining at times.

Sandra, thank you for your advice. If we revisit adopting an older child then we will definitely keep the age difference in mind.
I helped a family who had adopted a 12 year old who was feeling left out from her peers and siblings because of the lack of pictures of herself growing up. As a Forensic Artist, they had me do facial renderings creating illustrations of what she would have looked like at a younger age. They said these illustrations helped more than they ever imagined. The little girl was ecstatic and it gave them all a sense of actually growing together adding to their bond. If you want to see pictures they are at my website here: http://mcforensicart.com/age-progression.html

I wish you the best of luck and think a sister would be wonderful for her.
We adopted a 10 yr. old and 5 yr. old from Russia. We took them both to an attachment therapist where we played games that taught patience and also did things like letting me brush their hair and feeding them like babies. I think it helped. The kids actually loved it!

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