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Frequently asked questions

Isn’t birth order important? I have younger children at home and I am worried how adopting (or fostering) a teen will affect their development.

The effect birth order plays in childhood wellbeing and development has been a hotly contested issue for over a century, and terms like “Middle Child Syndrome” have been mainstays in pop psychology for decades.  This extends into the adoption (and fostering) world.  At one time, the thought was that families should adopt in birth order, meaning that they should only take placements of children younger than the children they had at home.  In reality, the birth order theory has been put to the test by numerous studies over the years and there has been little to no evidence to show that birth order plays a significant role in personality development or wellbeing of a child. (Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center)

Won’t I be missing out on all of the important developmental milestones if I adopt an older child?

While you will have missed the joyous moments when a child begins walking and talking, there are still many important milestones you can experience with a teen or tween.  Take a moment to think back on your childhood.  Do you remember speaking your first words, or taking your first steps?  Probably not.  But chances are you do remember who stood up and cheered at your high school graduation, who pinned on your corsage at prom, who taught you how to drive and buy your first car, who helped you move into your college dorm or first apartment – the person or people who stood by you as you found out what it means to be an adult and a fully independent person.  If you become his or her adoptive (or foster) parent, you can become that person for a teen.  You can become the caring adult who helps him or her find out who they really are and the person who helps them to begin to realize their full potential. (Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center)

Will older children become attached to me?

Attachment is one of those buzz words you will often hear in the foster and adoption community.  A common misconception among potential adoptive and foster parents is that young children will not have attachment issues and that teens and older children will not be fully capable of forming loving and trusting relationships with caregivers.  However, even a child less than a year old may have experienced trauma that could affect his ability to form secure attachments as he develops.  In reality, all children want to form attachments with caring adults and there are many approaches that parents can use to promote healthy attachments. (Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center)

Do teens and older children actually want to be adopted?

For teens in foster care who have experienced many placements, many homes, and many different families, the concept of a permanent family might seem foreign to them.  After all, for a lot of these teens, adult caregivers were inconsistent and constantly changing.  For any child of any age, there is always a period of adjustment when they are placed in a new home.  However, the vast majority of teens who become available for adoption are longing for a family to put down roots with.  Each teen is different; some teens will adjust and adapt quickly, and other teens may require some time to transition and open up.  While it may take a while for a teen to call you “Mom” or “Dad”, having a family to call their own as they take those first steps into adulthood likely means the world to them. (Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center)
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