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My parents adopted 7 and 8 year old sisters from Russia about 7 years ago. I was in college at the time, and my brother was almost finished with highschool.

Honestly, it has been challenging for our entire family. Older children have already (sadly) been through a lot in so many cases. The older sister especially has major anger issues that she directs at my mom. It has been really hard on my mom, as she really tries so hard and my sister can be very cruel to her.

I personally was kind of thrown for a loop when the girls first joined our family because I kind of thought they would be really excited and grateful to have a family and a house and nice possessions, etc. Actually, one of the first gripes they had was that they had to share a room! (We're a middle class famly by US standards.) The younger one went through a phase where she would get angry and try to leave--she'd actually go out the door and start heading down the street. It was scary.

On the flip side, it has been a real joy to have a larger family, and specifically, to have these girls as sisters. They have both excelled in school, the younger sister is a great athlete and very outgoing, and the older sister is very compassionate toward elderly people. When we think of what their future might have held in Russia . . . it was pretty bleak. Especially since they are not white, and there is a lot of racism in Russia. They would have had to leave the orphanage around age 15, and the older sister is now 16.

My advice would be to talk to as many parents of older adopted kids as possible. Be really honest about your motivations what you can handle. Can you handle a child with an attachment disorder or other mental health issues? Can you handle the frustrations of a language barrier? Learning disabilities? Medical problems are also common to these kids due to neglect and malnutrition, as well as maternal drug and alcohol use. Are you doing this because you have a savior complex and you think your love is so powerful that all other challenges will just melt away? Is your dh 100% on board?

To be completely frank, after having gone through this as a sibling, I'm not sure that I would ever adopt an older child. If I did, I would not do so when I had other children at home because I think these kids sometimes require so much special attention. *That is not to say that it hasn't worked out differently for other people! My parents actually know a family who adopted two kids from the same orphanage, although the kids they adopted were a bit younger (around 1 and 3 I believe), and they had such a positive experience that they went back and adopted two more.

Best wishes with your decision. I think it's very noble and wonderful of you to consider rescuing an older child!
 
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