Simply put, adoption is the legal process of taking another person's child and bringing them up as one's own. All over the world, couples decide to adopt children for a variety of reasons. Some adopt because they were unable to have biological children, some want to add a new family member, while others do it for charity reasons (Winston and Chicot 13). The legal process to facilitate an adoption varies from country to country as well as the child's age. Child adoption, in general, provides comfort to the adopting couples especially when they have tried unsuccessfully to have children of their own. The adopted children get the comfort and love that they need when taken up by adoptive parents. Child adoption has grave repercussions at times, especially when the adopted children grow up and decide to steal from their adoptive parents or perform other inhumane acts. People are even allowed to adopt across countries, and this has led to about 250,000 children being adopted to the United States over the last three decades (Scherman, Misca, Rotabi, and Selman 20). Moreover, girls outnumber boys in adoption statistics by a margin of 28%, meaning that parents prefer adopting girls to boys. In essence, child adoption has become a popular alternative parenting method, and the paper sets to determine whether adopting older children is better than adopting younger ones.
Shorter wait time before receiving an adoption referral is usually an overwhelming advantage when adopting an older child. Many countries all over the world are becoming more reluctant to approve an adopting case involving a young and healthy child as opposed to older children especially the ones with special needs (Scherman et al. 22). This could be attributed to the fact that older children are more independent of their parents as compared to younger ones. In most cases, older children have passed the breastfeeding stage in life and can walk on their two legs, which allows the adoptive parents to bring them up much more comfortable. Some older children are also able to express themselves, and thus, the adoptive parents would find it easier to understand them. It may be difficult for adoptive parents to understand what younger children are saying or want, especially those who only make incomprehensible sounds. Most of such children are also scared of strangers, and this could explain why a majority of countries are reluctant to approve adoption requests involving younger children (Scherman et al. 30).
Another advantage of adopting an older child is that adoptive parents would find it much easier to engage in bonding activities with their adopted children more than they would if the children were younger (Winston and Chicot 12). For instance, older children could ride bicycles, play in parks or go to movie theatres without much ado. This hastens the bonding process when the parents share the same set of recreational experiences with the adopted children. Apart from shared recreational activities, some adopted children could be skilled in cooking or playing the piano, and this makes the bonding much faster if the parents engage in the same activities as well. In most cases, human friendships and other types of relationships are anchored upon the daily or weekly-shared experiences, which spice up life encounters. For the adoptive parents, the shared set of experiences and bonding activities helps them view the adopted child as their own (Winston and Chicot 14). Moreover, under no circumstances would they decide to maltreat them.
The level of independence in older children is often admirable when it comes to making adoption decisions (Tan et al. 117). For instance, older children can dress, take a shower, and entertain themselves as compared to younger children. This saves the adoptive parents a generous amount of their time, which they could use to concentrate on their businesses or employment. Adopting a younger child could be hectic since the parent would have to figure out how to entertain the young ones and often keep watch over them since they may be too young to be left unattended to. Surprisingly, isolation is more damaging to an infant than early mistreatment. Research with motherless monkeys showed that isolation caused more long-term problems for the youngster than a mean mechanical mother did. An infant who is rarely touched or spoken to during the first weeks and months of life can suffer critical mental and behavioral impairments, even death (Purvis, Cross and Sunshine 26). Critical behavioral and mental challenges are probable if an infant is denied adequate attention during the first months of life. This makes adopting older children much more appropriate. Adults who have surpassed the child-bearing age would prefer to adopt older children since they would not have to deal with diapers or do babysitting (Hill 29). This is also a welcome move for single parents who have to take care of the children all by themselves.
Infertility is one of the most disturbing realities in married couples (Hill 40). Some would have attempted to bear biological children for the longest time without success. Adopting older children is advantageous to such couples since it enables them to find some closure to their situation. It also allows them to catch up on lost time. For those struggling with secondary infertility, adopting an older child would enable them to find a sibling who is closer in age with that of their biological child. The siblings would bond much faster since they probably attend the same school, share the same bedroom, or play together. Since the adopted child is somewhat closer in age to the biological child, the parents also buy them items such as toys and clothes at roughly the same time, meaning that the risk of facing discrimination would be significantly reduced.
Older children tend to know a little bit about their childhood experiences and health conditions, and this is advantageous to prospective adoptive families (Hill 35). This enables the soon to be adoptive parents to know what they would or would not be able to handle. The information also enables the adoptive parents to plan and set realistic goals towards their parenting especially if it relates to the developmental milestones or childhood illnesses of the adoptees. Knowing the past is essential in enabling the adoptive parents to plan for as well as understand their adopted children much better. For instance, if an adopted child tends to remain unhappy most of the time, the adoptive parents would be in a position to identify past experiences that affected the emotional wellbeing of their children (Doughty, Meakings, and Shelton 2018). This would also quicken the intervention process because the cause of the problem is known.
One disadvantage of adopting older children is that parents miss the crucial infant development stages that are crucial to bonding (Tan et al. 120). Biologically, a mother develops natural bonding with her child through breastfeeding, which adoptive parents cannot realize when they adopt an older child. They also miss the crucial development stages that a younger child goes through. Older children would quickly identify that the adoptive mother is not their birth mother especially if their birth mothers breastfed them. This would make them view the adoptive mothers as strangers. As a result, it may take the older child much time to understand and get used to the new environment that the adoptive parents are introducing them to.
In most cases, older children usually come from physically or emotionally abusive situations meaning that they act in frustration and anger during the first few months of adopted life (Scherman et al. 30). Several acts of frustration could include throwing tantrums, remaining moody, or not talking to anyone. This is a disadvantage to the adoptive parents since they may have to put an extra effort and convince the adopted children that they are not just another group of people similar to those who hurt them in the past. The children often tend to resist getting closer to the adoptive parents especially if they developed significant bonds with relatives or foster parents. In essence, adoptive parents would take longer to teach their adopted children to replace inappropriate behaviors with productive ones.
A third disadvantage of adopting an older child is the resistance from family members and friends especially when the adopted child is older than either of the biological children (Tan et al. 124). This resistance is hurting the psychological wellbeing of the adopted child especially when the biological children refuse to be associated with their new family member. Continued resistance would imply that both the biological and adopted children would take longer to get along. This could be evidenced by frequent disagreements between them and sometimes fights. Thus, the adoptive parents may be forced to remind their biological children often that the new family member is their brother or sister.
In conclusion, child adoption has become a popular alternative parenting method, and the paper has determined whether adopting older children is better than adopting younger ones by discussing the advantages and disadvantages. One of the discussed advantages of adopting an older child is that it takes a shorter time to get an adoption referral. It has been proven that most countries are reluctant to approve an adoption request involving a younger child for a variety of reasons. Another advantage is the shared activities for bonding that an adoptive family often experience with their adopted child meaning that bonding would become quicker. Independence has been discussed as an overwhelming advantage when adopting an older child. Older children can perform most things on their own, and this saves the adopted parents a lot of time. Another discussed advantage of adopting an older child is the achievement of closure to the adoptive parents especially when they are struggling with infertility. The fifth advantage is that older children tend to have a history of their experiences or illnesses and this provides additional tools for effective parenting. Parents are missing out on the crucial infant development stages that facilitate natural bonding has been cited as a disadvantage of adopting an older child. Other disadvantages are the resistance from family and friends and the fact that it may take longer to convince an adopted child that one is not a stranger.
By weighing the advantages and disadvantages of adopting an older child, it is appropriate to conclude that older children are better candidates for adoption as compared to younger ones. This is because the adoptive parents can quickly deal with the challenges of living with older adopted children after a few months. In some countries, parents are prohibited from adopting children less than six years of age, and this supports the view that adopting an older child is better.
Doughty, Julie, Sarah Meakings, and Katherine Shelton. "Rights and Relationships of Children who are Adopted from Care." International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family(2018).
Hill, John Lawrence. "What does it mean to be a" parent"? The claims of biology as the basis for parental rights." Parental Rights and Responsibilities. Routledge, 2017. 29-96.
Purvis, Karyn B., David R. Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine. The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2007. 21-28. Print.
Scherman, Rhoda, et al. "Global commercial surrogacy and international adoption: parallels and differences." Adoption & Fostering 40.1 (2016): 20-35.
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