Reimagining Adoption

Nov 25 - Adopting an older child

Category: Submission by FoJ Counsellor

Of the 17,000 parents registered for adoption with CARA, about 70% of them prefer adopting a child below 2 years of age. They would have ideally preferred to adopt a new born baby, but the lowest category for adoption at CARA is for 0-2 years, and most adoptions take place for children below 1 year of age, with parents waiting to receive a referral for a young child. Ironically, the average age of parents registered for adoption is above 40 years of age, and at times it beocmes very difficult as a counsellor to explain to a parent why adopting an age appropriate child is best for the family, and not necessarily the youngest possible child.

There are 3 prime reasons for parents desiring to adopt a neo-natal child, as follows:

  1. Most of them want to simulate a natural child birth. They continue to believe that social acceptance for the child will become easier if the child is new born. There have been cases where mothers have been even faking pregnancy in the garb of adoption, so as to prove to their relatives that the child is naturally born to them.

  2. Many parents believe that the bonding with the child is better if the child is very small. Most parents derive saisfaction out of tending to the child, changing diapers, seeing the child learn to walk, talk etc. It is attending to the parental urge in opting for a very small child.

  3. It is a common misconception that children repsond better when adopted at a young age, than when they carry their past with them. Some parents actually do not intend telling the child ever about their adoption, and for such parents adopting an older child is unthinkable. It is also erroneously believed that older children are stubborn, do not adapt to situation or carry residual feelings towards their past care givers or parents and fail to attach to the adoptive family. Nothing could be farther from truth.
While there is nothing wrong in desiring to adopt a near new born child, the wish may seem out of place in certain situations, especially when the parents themselves have crossed into their 40's. Here are a few reasons to rethink over the preference for adopting a very young child: It is time for parents to relook at the age of the child at adoption with a constructive mindset and definitely not hold the same against the child, in light of thier own prejudices and assmptions. At the minimum, we should stop using the term "older child' for children over 2 years of age, simply because some set of parents prefer to adopt a new born child and a child fo 2 yrs or above is way too old for them. It is ironic to see that in a typical Indian family environment, teenagers and even adults are often pampered with a stereotype statement, "he is too young to shoulder this responsbility or to deliver an outcome, he will learn with age" but some prospective adoptive parents tend to be ruthless in judging even a 5 year old child as too old, intransigent, stubborn or inflexible. Adoption is a life long journey with a spiritual connection. It is an opportunity to re-discover ourselves bereft of our conditioning and prejuddices.

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