Things Parents Need To Consider When Adopting Older Children
There are roughly 100 thousand children every year, in the United States alone, who are awaiting adoption.
And not just babies or infants.
This includes children in their teens and pre-teens.
They often need to be adopted owing to sad circumstances, like being taken out of homes where they were neglected and abused.
Sadly, the transitions into their new life are often turbulent, and while the eventual outcome is often happy, that sadly isn't always the case.
Redditor ComplexPick was curious to hear the first hand experiences of parents who adopted older children, as well as any advice they might offer those considering it, leading them to ask:
"Parents who have adopted a older child (5 and up), how has it gone for you? Do you regret it or would you recommend other parents considering adoption look into a older child?"
If You Want To Do It, Be Sure You Want To Do It For Them.
"Adopted a child who was 11 when I was 21."
"He was my wife's younger cousin and his household was marred with substance abuse, filth, instability, and mental health issues."
"Knew it was bad but didn't know how bad."
"Took him (11) and his brother (14) for a summer once, just to give them a break from, what we thought was, a dirty house with an overwhelmed parent."
"Until I took them back the week before school started and saw the filth first hand, the smell and the random people coming in/out, the wreckage we were about to have to leave them in, the fact that in this time his Xbox and games, I had hand-me-downed him, has been sold along with their TV."
"The two had 1 mattress on a floor and the younger one said 'I can't wait for school to start back' and when I asked why, he said 'Because then I get to eat every day, like when I'm at your house'."
"I told them to just get back in the car."
"His mother never even called to ask why he or his brother didn't come home until tax season, to make sure we didn't claim them on our taxes, etc."
"Never wished him a happy birthday, Christmas, nothing."
"My wife and I grew up very quickly."
"We worked hard and got full custody about a year later when he was 12."
"He grew up healthy and happy, successful with great grades and a good head on his shoulders."
"His brother who was 14 lived with us for the first year then would go back and forth trying to help his mom get her life together before returning again, but for the most part during those years, the younger child we had full custody of and the older child came/went as he needed."
"It wasn't until years later when the younger of the two moved out with his friends, instead of taking our offer to go to college right after school, and began having substance abuse issues of his own that we learned the extent of the abuse he had endured at home for nearly his entire childhood and kept inside."
"Sexual and physical for years starting when he was about 5 from his mothers 'friends' and boyfriends and even a family member due to their terrible situation."
"It was heartbreaking."
"He ended up going through a pretty severe addiction period in his early to mid 20s and regardless what we've tried and how many small successes we've worked with him to reach, he always ends up in a severe depression and turning back to drugs again."
"The last time I talked to him, about a week ago, I told him I loved him and would help him get into a very nice rehab community when he's ready and help him get a good job and place for himself, but only when he's ready to be clean and until then, we simply can't do anything with/for him..and it was hard to do."
"I am in the 2nd half of my 30's now, have 3 children in grade school who need me like he did then who also love him, our oldest looks at him like a big brother, but unfortunately we have to keep our distance a bit so they don't have to see close-up the ugly side of addiction in someone they love."
"Now that he's an adult in his mid 20's himself making these choices, we can't have any real relationship other than the occasional call or letter until he's done."
"He loves them too, but he's got some demons that we cannot possibly understand and until he's ready to get help for them or help for his addiction, we don't have much of a relationship."
"His brother worked hard and straightened their mother out over the years into a functioning adult and mother, got her life together, a job, a place, everything and as adults, never left her."
"In fact, due to him, his brother spent the last year of his teens sharing our household and hers back/forth which wouldn't have been possible without him."
"The older brother and her are roommates now and we are very proud of him for the man he's become, what he's persevered, and the incredible progress he's made with their mother and how he's stuck by her side now providing as equals."
"I never realized it, but he and I really grew up together, only being 5-6 years apart in age and were best friends for years as young adults even after his younger brother moved out."
"One of my biggest regrets is somehow letting those days end."
"He loves his brother too, but his and his mother's relationship with his brother is the same as ours, the delicate balance between helpful/love vs enabling due to understanding the pain he's probably trying to understand/repress, until he's able to beat this, and he will."
"Nothing is perfect, just what you make of it I suppose, but it has highlighted to us how important the early years of a child's development are and how damaging all forms of abuse can be, regardless how much effort you put into trying to change things afterward, and also how important it is for a child to have an adult who genuinely cares about them, since sadly many don't."
"Would I recommend it?"
"Yes, but be honest with yourself why you're doing it and know what you're getting into."
"You're not getting a good/bad kid, you're getting an opportunity to be a good/bad parent."
"Children this age need you as much as a baby does, they bring happiness the same as a baby does and also present their own unique challenges the same as parents do, which is what they're signing up for too without knowing, and most importantly the reason you should be adopting is for them."
"You get to give your love, time, affection and a portion of your life, and heart, too."
"Would I do it again?"
"Every single time."- saaatchmo
"My wife and I adopted an older girl from our state's foster system."
"The girl was 13 when we adopted her and we were told she had a rough childhood full of abuse and she had been diagnosed with 'general mood disorder'."
"Little did we know that the psychological assessment was done by an unqualified state doctor and this little girl had severe issues that required more care than my wife and I were prepared for."
"We spent 5 years dealing with fighting, arguing, run away attempts, drug use, alcohol abuse, constant emotional manipulation, constant lying, stealing, etc."
"She was also in constant contact with her schizophrenic birth mother behind our backs, the woman kept feeding our daughter conspiracy theories and lies and constantly making the situation worse for all of us."
"We tried the best we could for 5 whole years, trying various different therapists, trying different parenting methods, seeing different doctors, all to no avail."
"It wasn't until about 5 months before her 18th birthday that we had to have her committed and we finally got a proper diagnosis."
"She was diagnosed with bi-polar and BPD and we finally had an answer to the years of hell we all had to go thru."
"We did our research and learned the proper way to parent a child with these conditions and things began to improve over the last few months she was with us, but on her 18th birthday she bailed and we haven't seen her since, that was 5 years ago."- Dragonace1000
The Love They Never Knew
"I feel I got lucky."
"He was 9 when we adopted him, but he was just grateful to have a home and people who loved him."
"My wife and I love him dearly as he does us."- TyrannoDragon
Have Absolutely No Doubts.
"My pre-adoptive son just moved in 6 weeks ago."
"He’s almost 10."
"Him getting here has been a bit of a long and wild story but he’s been in care since he was 6."
"It hasn’t been easy but there’s SO many older kids who need families."
"My biggest thing is just to make DAMN sure you’re committed."
"Know your limits."
"Be honest with yourself and your adoption coordinator."
"And demand honesty from the social worker as well."
"Ask for psych evals and treatment histories."
"Because if you convince yourself 'oh I can handle this' and you change your mind?"
"You are re-traumatizing that child."
"My son has complex trauma from years of abuse but the thing he talks about most after his meltdowns?"
"Having to leave his first pre-adoptive home because he kept losing his temper and throwing things."
"He’s been in 4-5 placements and a PRTF since then."
"I work with girls involved in juvenile justice so I felt uniquely prepared for this situation and even for me, it’s been physically and emotionally exhausting."
"I’m a single parent and we’re in the middle of a global pandemic so I’m sure that’s a factor."
"But if you choose to adopt there shouldn’t be any 'changing your mind' or 'this just isn’t working out'."
"That kiddo is part of your family."
"My son and I have a little mantra 'together forever. Even when things get hard, even when things get sad'.”- camilouwhooo
Not Everyone Is Meant To Be A Parent
"I adopted a 7 YO from foster care in 2017."
"It was an absolute failure."
"My wife pushed me to choose this child even though I didn’t feel the 'sparks' everyone talks about when meeting or hearing about their kids."
"I separated from my wife in 2018 and we shared custody for about a year."
"I asked her for a short break, and she took the child and never returned him."
"I can’t say I’m unhappy about her choice."
"I didn’t really fight for her to bring him back."
"I have seen him only a few times since then."
"I care for him as a human being and of course wish no harm upon him, but I’m not his parent."
"It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve been through."- bearbearbare
Older children who are hoping to be adopted need love above all else.
Sadly, love can't solve every problem.
But any parent committed to loving their children, no matter how difficult things might get, will ensure that they will somehow, in some way come out on top of all their troubles.
Even if it sometimes takes more love than you can possibly imagine.
While starting a family and having children is a goal that many people have, some do not realize that it's not easy, fun, and loving one-hundred percent of the time. Rather, it's expensive, exhausting, and hard, though it might be worth it in the end.
With this in mind, people shared what they felt were the hardest hurdles of their parenting.
Redditor ApprehensiveShock655 asked:
"What's the worst part of having a child?"
Fear of Not Doing Enough
"The constant anxiety that you’re doing enough to shape them to make good choices, a good life, be a good person and for them to have the life they deserve."
Like the Energizer Bunny
"It's incessant. It never stops. You never get a day off."
"Going from having two days per week to relax and do whatever to literally never having a moment free from responsibility."
No Break In Sight
"I’ve always wanted kids and still do, but this is the only thing that has come close to giving me pause."
"Both my siblings have young kids and I cannot get over how CONSTANT it is."
"From the second the kids wake up to when they finally shut their eyes, it’s non-stop. Then they get maybe an hour or two to themselves, which is mostly spent tidying up, etc., before the nighttime stuff starts with the baby crying, the toddler coming into bed, nightmares, etc."
"It requires years of not getting a full night's rest. You can never just go out whenever you want. No sleeping in, even on weekends because someone has to be up with them at 6 AM."
"Raising human children is an insane task."
Mom's Body After Baby and Dad Bods
"The weight gain is the worst! During the pregnancy, I gained 35 pounds. My belly has stretch marks. My boobs are all saggy."
"And it’s not even fair because my wife only gained like 15."
The Meal Planning
"Coming up with three meals to eat per day EVERY DAY stresses me out so bad."
"This sounds like such a small thing, but it really wears on you over time. You can’t just make something for yourself or something you and your spouse feel like eating: You have to constantly be thinking about if the kid is hungry and what they might be willing to eat."
Keeping Them Safe
"When people ask me this I say, 'do you know those video games where you have to escort a character to a destination without them being attacked?' That's parenting. Those missions are a pain in the a**."
Seriously, Keep Them Safe
"Having to deal with their total lack of self-preservation. They are creative and come up with all kinds of ways to try and kill themselves. Keeping ahead of the game is exhausting."
"They’re just always there. On you, behind you, in front of you, just a little speed bump impeding every task."
Letting Them Live Their Life Their Way
"Having a kid is like having a little piece of your heart running around in the world. When they're sick or get disappointed or just feel sad, it's worse than having it happen to you."
"Yet at the same time, you need to let your kids work through those things to learn to handle them. If you give into the worry and try to shield them from everything, you risk creating harmful co-dependence."
"So it's a constant struggle. But worth it!"
What Is "Sleep" Again?
"I'm only nine years in, but so far, it's been the sleep deprivation. Hands down."
And What Are These "Sick Days" You Speak Of?
"Having to take care of a sick child when you are also sick. For me that has been the most challenging part so far."
Another Full-Time Job
"It's like taking a second job that lasts 18+ years with a 24/7 schedule with no holidays or sick days."
"…And no second paycheck. It's actually like YOU are paying your second salary instead of getting one."
"The loss of freedom. I can't just... go somewhere. Even with older kids, there's so much planning and thinking and getting ready."
"I miss being able to just decide to go somewhere, and go there."
The Time Flies
"The best advice I got was from an ancient hospital security guard in an elevator. 'The days are long, the years are short, cherish them while you can.'"
"The phrase I hate is, 'You don't know it, but one day you pick your kid up for the last time.'"
There are all kinds of troubles that come from being a parent, many of which people don't necessarily think about until they already have a baby in the house.
But reassuringly, many people in the subReddit pointed out that no matter how hard some of these hurdles are to get over, it's still worth it in the end, and it goes by far too fast.
Positive emotions are high among people in the blossoming phase of relationships.
Everything seems more romanticized for people in love due to the amorous joy in their hearts–which also influences their desire to frequently get it on under the sheets–or any other daring location in the heat of the moment.
But for those who've declared "'til death do us part," devoted couples may find that they are not always on the same wavelength sexually compared to when they first met.
Curious to hear how people keep their passion alive, Redditor Rude_Phone6841 asked:
"Married people, how do you initiate sex with your partner?"
When verbally articulating isn't enough...
Let The Book Dictate When
"There is a book called 'How to Subtly Tell Your Partner You Want More Sex.' If you sleep on the right side of the bed, you can casually open it up and your spouse will see the giant printed title on the front. Sometimes, I’ll just get the book out and leave it on his side of the bed. Once he was messing with me and acting like he was oblivious to my not-so-subtle hints, so I threw the book at him. The book is effective and hilarious."
"ETA: Sadly, we haven’t found the book since we moved. Fortunately, we’ve started communicating with our words instead. Words are just as effective."
Save The Date
"I send her an outlook calendar event and if she accepts, IT'S ON."
"You know when I’m down to my socks it’s time for business."
These couples find that verbal cues are best.
Now's The Time
"Honestly when we have the time one of us usually bluntly says 'let's go have sex right f'king now before we can't' and we go do it. Lol"
Option A Or B
"I have a 2 month old and a 2 year old. Some of the best sex we had was because I said 'after 2 year old goes down and if 2month decides to sleep do you want to meet in the basement' well she decided to sleep and damn that was good."
End Of Day Reward
"We just ask each other tbh. We’ll bring it up earlier in the day so we build up the anticipation with each other throughout the day, flirt with each other, gas each other up. All that. Then when it’s finally time at the end of the day, we usually fall asleep cause we’re so tired."
"But the cycle continues the next day!"
People continued offering their wisdom.
Afternoon Hanky Panky
"The trick is to initiate sex during the day. We are both too tired at the end. Plus hanging out all day after is somehow more rewarding."
"Same goes for dates. Have sex at the beginning the date, then go enjoy your time together without any pressure."
Kids In The Equation
"This literally happened today with my wife and me. We have two toddlers so we’re extra exhausted. Earlier today we had the sexy initiation of 'hey, we both showered today, want to have sex after the babies are asleep?' 'Sure.'"
"Then when the kids were asleep, and my wife and I were getting settled into bed, she asked if I still wanted to. I said if she wants to I’m down, but I’m pretty tired and would be fine without it. She said she was also tired and could do without it. So we kissed each other good night and she went to sleep. I’m just winding down on Reddit for a few minutes before I also fall asleep."
"I know this is boring. I didn’t write this to tell an exciting story. Just to share what married life is like for me and probably the large majority of married couples, especially parents of young kids."
Shadow Puppet Technique
"Use my phones torch to shine a shadow of my member up against the bedroom wall."
"Kinda like a bat signal of sorts."
"Turn off the lights and switch on the red lamp beside the bed."
"Walk by him while taking my top off. He follows me wherever I go and it's been 30 years and counting."
Every couple is different, and usually establishing a strong communication bond makes everything else in the relationship–including sexy time–falls in line effortlessly.
I knew a couple who made a game out of foreplay and agreed that whoever got home first from getting off work at the same time got to choose the sexual position that night.
They may no longer be together, but I remember them recalling how that technique was fun for them at the beginning stage and it took the pressure off of establishing when they were going to have sex.
Don't take get too anxious about it. It's just sex, and it's fun.
There are a number of things people partake in spite of the known possible ramifications they have on their health and safety.
Up to and including smoking, bungee-jumping, recreational drug use, or simply bike riding without a helmet.
Indeed, even though they know that doing any or all of these things could possibly lead to their death, they do it anyway.
Sadly, even though many people go out of their way to avoid doing these things for that very reason, that still doesn't mean they keep themselves completely out of danger.
Sadly, there are a surprisingly large number of things that lead to an even more surprising number of deaths each year.
Frighteningly, these are things that the majority of the world's population does on an almost daily basis.
"What causes death more than people realize?"
When In Doubt, Call Your Doctor!
"Your body will become septic, in which it essentially kills itself trying to kill off whatever infection one has."- cacarrizales
"Infections that are left untreated."- raptor-99
Tread Carefully. Seriously.
"On average around 17k people a year in the US die from injuries incurred after tripping and falling."- EdithWhartonsFarts
When In Doubt, Don't Drive.
"Driving while sleepy."- latchkey_adult
The Handrail Is There For A Reason.
"20 million severe injuries each year and at least 200,000 death from consequences of the fall."
"Both my grandparents died because of a fall."- OnTheGoodSideofLife
They Happen To The Best Of Us
"Especially among the elderly, a fall can create a cascade of events that results in death, even if it seems minor at first."-AdmiralBofa
Never Rush Chewing
"Statistically the most choked on food."- SpecSanders
Never Skip A Check-Up
"High Blood Pressure."
"It sneaks up on you and you don't know about it or don't care but it's the underlying cause of so many deaths."- Fear51
Never Underestimate The Importance Of Self Care
"Your body can only handle so much of it and it’s labeled the 'silent killer' for that reason."
"With your high blood pressure and the 5 hours of sleep a night because of the stress, It will creep up on you sooner than you think."- DroppedDonut
Don't Forget To Floss!
"Untreated dental problems."
"A cavity left untreated can lead to heart attacks and strokes."- Lastalmark
"Just regular old flu."
"Many people ignore it thinking it'll go away on its own."
"Globally the number per year is usually between 300k and 500k."
"In the US it can be anywhere from 12k to 50k per year."- PhreedomPhighter
Don't Feel Ashamed If You Need A Break
"I have two family friends pass from heart attacks associated to shoveling the snow."- JD054
There Are People Who Will Help You
"Alcoholism causing liver failure and it's on the rise in the USA."- Interesting_Drop8236
"Peruse your County ME’s records."
"The amount of people who die from alcohol is astounding."- hockenduke
Sometimes, It's Just Best To Mind Your Own Business
"You watch some Hollywood blockbusters and some MMA fights and you think you can do it too."
"I've seen stories of a guy minding his own business and gets rocked on the side of his head. It disconnected his spine and he was dead before he hit the ground."
"There was another story maybe a year ago of a scuffle where a guy was stabbed in the neck and bled out to the point of being unable to stand within 10 seconds."
"Stop f*cking around, it's not worth your life."- Choiceofart
We never know when our number is up or how we'll end our days.
However, with a little bit of care and good judgment, we can at least likely avoid falling victim to all of the above.
When Americans visit a foreign country, they tend to notice immediate cultural differences from the minute they step off the plane.
Unique bathroom designs, how you might have to be more specific when ordering coffee in Australia, how many businesses in Spain tend to shut down for a few hours to take a siesta.
Needless to say, this goes both ways, as when people from all over the world visit the United States, they tend to be surprised and amazed by a number of things.
Ranging from the amusing, such as portion sizes and ineffective tea brewing (at least for the Brits) to the truly baffling (HEALTHCARE).
"Non-American people, what’s a thing that you don’t understand about America?"
You Mean, People DON'T File Their Own Taxes Elsewhere?!?!
"Does every worker have to file their own taxes or am I just confused?"- ThePencil67
"Why they make you calculate your own taxes, if they know what you owe."- redder2023
"So, why do you buy politicians' merchandise? "
"Shirts, caps, banners, stickers, etc."
"They're public servants, not rockstars."
"Also, usually the more boring they are, the better."- akashyyConor Mckenna Influencer GIF by FoilArmsandHogGiphy
"Scottish person here but the work/always available for work culture."
"Minimal vacation time, minimal maternity/paternity leave and the fact you can pretty much just be let go."
"It makes me sad to think about it!"
"But I do love that you guys cram so much into your time off - you guys love a road trip!"- Frosty_Dragonfly_682
Definitely Something To Consider...
"What is up with Homeowner Associations?"
"Why would you pay to let a nosy neighbor dictate what you can and can not do on your own property?"
"I understand living in an apartment block and paying maintenance fees etc, but in a suburban home?"- Skoodledoo
There Are Some Good Observations
"The amount of National Parks!"
"My dream came true in 2017 to make an RV trip southwest off USA."
"Yosemite blew my mind away."- Independent-Ad9787national parks GIF by Visit The USAGiphy
"How you can say the word 'mirror' without the use of any vowels."
I Ordered A Small!
"Why everything is just SO damn supersized."
"My first time in America I went to get ice coffee from Dunkin Donuts, I ordered a large and my friend is like, 'are you sure you want large'?"
"Yeah no biggie, in the UK a large is not overwhelming I feel so I was expecting the same kinda thing."
"Oh my god it was like a god damn bucket of coffee."
"I think maybe a small would have been equivalent to a UK large, lesson swiftly learnt."
Some People Are Lucky To Just Have One Roommate...
"How you have to share a room with some complete rando when you go to college."- ChoppingOnionsForYouRoommates Move In GIF by James Madison UniversityGiphy
Some People Just Can't Stop Talking
"The culture of just talking to people, strangers you don't know and just up and start a conversation with them or join a conversation."
"I'm British, and we go through great lengths to not talk to people, let alone open up and pour our hearts out to a random person."- MrGlayden
In Other Words: Severs Deserve to Be Paid More!
"The tipping culture is so foreign to me, I would be so scared to make a mistake or not tipping enough if I ever go to America because it's not something which is common here in Denmark."- Cupsuu
The Commercials, Maybe?
"I’m American but I’ve worked with a lot of people who aren’t."
"The one thing they always wonder is why Americans are so obsessed with the NFL."
"They think it’s a boring sport."
"They explained 'you wait for 30 seconds, they hike the ball, you get about 5-10 seconds of action, then you wait another 30 seconds, another 5-10 seconds of action, then commercial break'."- yougotthesilver12Kansas City Chiefs Football GIF by Fighting Illini AthleticsGiphy
School Is No Place To Have Fun!
"My mom is from Moscow during the Soviet Era, and she is confused why there is no teacher-student hierarchy."
'She thinks it's weird when teachers participate in school plays or speak to students informally."
"She also DOES NOT GET pajama day."
"To her, it's just the weirdest thing in the world."
"In Russia, there is an important distinction between 'clothes for home' and 'clothes for outside'."
"They have a concept of 'home clothes', like your cozy or ugly clothes, that you are supposed to change into after school or work."
"At bedtime, you change out of your 'home clothes' into pajamas."
"As a result, pajamas, for both adults and children, are considered extra-extra private in Russia."
"My mom perceives pajama day as something extreme like wearing only undergarments to school."
"That's how private pajamas are considered to be in Russia!"- racheltolmach2022
A Debate Which Will Likely Never End
"MM/DD/YYYY"- SuvenPananimation domination calendar GIF by gifnewsGiphy
Living in America comes with a number of advantages and a number of detriments.
Speaking personally though, had I known I wouldn't have to file my own taxes in Australia, I would have expatriated long ago...