An Adoption Story
November 1, 2019 | by katie jones backer
"Don't let fear keep you from adopting an older child."
"Oh, you're adopting? How old is the little sweetheart?"
My response was often met with a shocked stare, a little stammering, and/or a noncommittal smile. I think I've heard "wow" more than anything else while sharing about our adoption. It makes me smile because I know our family is definitely not the norm, but let's be honest, when it comes to family, there is no norm. All kids and families are unique.
My husband and I have always held great affection for older kids. I taught History at Senior High; my husband helped coach the Lady Bronc's basketball team. When we decided to start a family through adoption, our hearts were pulled toward older kids. We learned of an agency that assisted parents who sought new families for their adopted children. It broke our hearts to learn of kids being adopted, only to be given up for adoption again. When we saw the picture of our daughter, we both knew: That's our kid.
In 2017, we met and adopted our then 9-year-old daughter. As first-time parents it has been a life-changing whirlwind, but man is it worth it! Initially, people were concerned that she might be too old for us, come with baggage, and that we'd be missing out on all of the early childhood bonding. I understand where people were coming from, and of course, felt momentary pangs of fear throughout our journey, yet I do not let fear rule me. We did miss out on A LOT. She did have baggage. Who wouldn't? She spent nine years of her life in a different country, and then a different state - before joining our family.
We have been there for many of her firsts, and it has made bonding and attaching all the sweeter. She has chosen to give us a chance and to love us despite our newness. We may not have seen her first steps or heard her first words, but we got to see her on her first day of Fourth and Fifth Grades. We've been there to watch her go from a confused little girl to a fun-loving, confident tween. We've experienced her first piano recital, her first trip to Oregon, her first time seeing a ballet, and her first sleepover. Her first encounter with lip gloss, new pets, and shopping with her own money.
We were able to meet a child, who, without any influence from us - genetic or environmental - was so incredibly adorable, kind, and smart from the get-go. We feel this is something to cherish. We got to meet our daughter and get to know her as an individual. How cool is that? I get to learn new things from her and about her every, single day.
So yes, we have missed a lot from her early years; we can't change that. But it isn't going to stop us from being there now, experiencing her present and future. She will be loved, supported, cared for, and understood for the rest of her life. We might have missed out on first teeth, diapers, and tottering steps; but we will be there for middle school, braces, her first job, driver's test, high school graduation, wedding, and the start of a family (if she so chooses). The fact is, we will be there, and she will be with us. We are a family.
Adopting an older child might sound crazy to some, but it has led to the most treasured season in our lives. We can see evident growth in her - and in us. We would have missed this child had we let fear rule us in our quest to parenthood. According to NACAC (North American Council on Adoptable Children), "Every youth in foster care needs and deserves a permanent, loving family. Despite the nation's stated goal to achieve permanency for children, in 2015, more than 20,000 youth aged out of foster care, meaning they left the child welfare system without a permanent family," (https://www.nacac.org/help/adoption-practice/older-child-adoption/). If you know someone or feel led yourself, don't let fear keep you from an older child. It can be hard and challenging; I won't lie about that. But it is the most rewarding experience we will ever undertake.
For more information on foster care and adoption (specifically of an older child), check out:
Originally printed in the November 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine
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