1. Older children have a more difficult time being placed for adoption.
While babies are often adopted very quickly, children above the age of two face more difficulties in finding a permanent family. Once a child reaches the age of 8, their chances of being adopted drop significantly, and once they reach their teenage years, they are even less likely to be adopted. When you consider that the average age of a child in foster care is 7.7 years old, it is easy to recognize the need for families willing to adopt older children and give them the loving support and sense of belonging that comes with it.
So why is it difficult to find adoptive families for older children? Older children waiting to be adopted, often living in foster care, may already feel rejected, set in their ways, and fear trusting a new family. Adopting an older child requires patience and the willingness to provide for all the services your older child may need to flourish. Older child adoptions are often called “special needs adoptions” because of the extra care that must be taken with children who desperately need to be loved but who also fear being rejected by somebody they allow themselves to love.
2. Adopting an older child can be a much quicker process.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, on any given day in the US, there are roughly 442,000 children living within foster care, and among those, 123,000 are eligible for adoption. These children will wait and average of four years to be adopted. In 2017, nearly 20,000 children aged out of foster care, meaning they reached the age of adulthood without finding a permanent family. When you consider the number of older children waiting to be adopted, coupled with the reality that there are far fewer adoptive families willing to adopt an older child, it is easy to see why the process for adopting an older child would be much quicker than it is for adopting a newborn or infant. We have had older child adoptions completed in as few as six months, once the homestudy was completed and approved.
3. Adopting an older child is much more affordable.
Adoption agency costs for adopting an older child are much lower, and in some cases, county or state agencies contribute to the costs associated with completing the adoption process. An older child adoption typically costs a tenth of what an infant adoption costs, and many of these costs may be eligible to be subsidized by the state or county in which the adoption is taking place.
4. Some older children will qualify for a subsidy once adopted.
In the state of Ohio, there are several state subsidy programs that provide financial assistance to families who adopt children from foster care. Some of these subsidy programs provide one-time assistance – to cover the process of adoption – while others provide ongoing financial support to help the adoptive families provide all the services their child needs. In some cases, these subsidies are provided to help cover the expense of sheltering the child, while others are in place to ensure the child is able to receive emotional therapy to help them transition into their new family. At Building Blocks Adoption Service, we can help you determine which subsidies you and your adopted child may be eligible for.
5. Children adopted older than 13 may qualify for special financial aid for college.
Any child adopted from foster care when they are 13 or older is considered to be an independent student by the federal government. What that means is they do not have to include family income on their FAFSA and are much more likely to qualify for financial aid, both through the government as well as through the university where they are applying. In addition to this, the federal government provides Education and Training Vouchers of $5,000 per year to qualifying children who were adopted from foster care at 16 or older and who are enrolled in college or an accredited vocational school. In addition to these, many colleges, universities, and private foundations provide scholarships for adoptees.
None of us ever outgrows needing a family, needing a sense of belonging and unconditional love. Through adoption, older children can be connected with a family that will provide them a sense of stability, lasting connections, and guidance through life’s most difficult and precious moments. Do you have questions about the process of adopting an older child? We are here to guide you through the steps and connect you with a child who is waiting for you.