“About six months after bringing home Kurhula from South Africa, we knew that we needed to adopt again. It was clear that Kurhula missed being around other children. She had been the youngest child in a foster family, living with four older foster-siblings – and although she was thriving with the individual attention that my husband and I were able to give her, she also seemed visibly lonely, and missed interacting with other children.
Inevitably there is a “can we do this?” moment for parents—all parents. It can occur before a child arrives. It can occur when that child is growing. It can occur if that child is a biological child. It can occur if that child is an adopted child. It can occur during easy, happy times. It can occur when there are storms to be weathered. It can occur once. Or it can occur every day. Inevitably—it will occur.
Questions we often hear prospective parents ask include:
- Can we do this? Can we adopt? Can we raise a child who may not look like us?
- Can we raise an older child? What about a child who was born in another country?
- What if they have experienced trauma? Will that child be able to understand that we love him or her?
Will we be able to weather those storms?
We know that there are certain traumas that can accompany life in the child welfare system, either domestically or internationally. Sometimes the separation from biological family is itself the traumatic event and sometimes that trauma is only realized later. The knowledge of this as a possibility for their child can cause worry for parents. It can cause parents considering international or older child adoption to ask the same question other parents ask themselves every day: “Can we do this?”
At Spence-Chapin we provide families with the resources needed to make an informed decision and one that is right for each family. We support families in arriving at their answer to that inevitable question and provide continued support as that question is bound to come up again—and that’s okay.
Some helpful essential reads on older child adoption can be found here:
- Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child by Trish Maskew
- Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow by Gregory Keck
- Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child: From Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years by Patty Cogen
- The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Newton Verrier
For more information about our domestic, international and older child adoption programs, please contact the Adoption Team at 212-400-8150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To schedule a pre-adoption consultation or if you would like more information about our Adoption Support & Counseling Services, please contact Spence Chapin’s Modern Family Center at 646-539-2167 or email@example.com.
As you begin to think about growing your family through adoption, one of the first steps is deciding the age of the child you will be parenting. Spence-Chapin can help you explore the reasons an older child could be a great fit for your family. We know there are some questions about older child adoption that people are often too afraid to ask, so we've started a list here.
- What is the age range of a child who is considered “older”?
- What are some of the differences between adopting an older child from foster care and adopting an older child internationally?
- Can we adopt an older child if we have younger children we are currently parenting?
- Can a single parent/older parent adopt an older child?
- As a single parent, can I adopt an older child who is not the same gender as me?
- Do older children have behavioral and emotional issues?
- Would we be able to have a bar or bat mitzvah for our child if we adopt an older child?
- How much will I know about my older child’s history?
- Have all older children been living in an institutional setting since birth?
- How much input does an older child have into his adoption plan?
- How can I be fully prepared to adopt an older child?
- What language will my child speak? Will my child speak or understand English?
Are these the questions that you were thinking of too? Our team can provide the answers to all these and more. Give Kara, Heather and Jamie a call - 212-400-8150.
Spence-Chapin is able to share the profiles of international children who are considered to be the most in need of a loving family, and who are ready to be matched immediately. The Waiting Child profiles often consist of children who are older or part of a sibling group. In order to respect the privacy of these children, the Waiting Child page has been password protected.
If you would like to hear more about our adoption programs or request the password to the Waiting Child page, contact us at 212-400-8150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are over 1,800 older children, siblings, and children with special needs in Bulgaria who are eligible for international adoption but have not yet found families.
Spence-Chapin launches Colombian host-adopt program for the tri-state community.
This summer we traveled to Colombia, South Africa and Uganda to explore opportunities to expand our reach to help more children. Visiting these countries and meeting with their child welfare representatives solidified our resolve to find adoptive homes for children there. During our trips, we witnessed the love and care these children receive but also were acutely aware of the staff making do with what little resources they had. In each country we clearly observed the changing face of adoption and saw the many school-aged children, sibling groups and children with special needs who are waiting for a family of their own. Because we feel that that every child deserves a home, championing the adoption of these children is part of what Spence-Chapin does. Our time in Colombia was inspiring, encouraging and sobering. Having met with the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF – The Colombian Institute of Family Welfare within the Ministry of Social Protection), our staff was impressed by the level of care provided to the approximately 9,000 children in their custody. In each adoption house visited, we encountered psychologists, social workers and other professional staff helping children prepare for adoption, and yet no forever families were on the horizon for these children.
In South Africa there is no question about the number of children needing permanency; by 2015 there will be more than 5.5 million orphans in South Africa. As one of just two U.S. agencies approved by the South African Central Authority to place children with American families, we are delighted to partner in this initiative with Johannesburg Child Welfare Society (JCW). Our similar mission and history of having worked together on our Granny program, make this partnership a natural fit. We have officially launched this program and are eagerly accepting applications for adoption. We are excited about placing children with black families as well as families who will open their hearts and homes to the children most likely not to be adopted in South Africa because of their age or medical needs.
In Uganda, we learned about the millions of orphans and their extremely limited options. When parents die some children are taken in by relatives but many others try to survive on the streets. While there, we established a strong relationship with MIFUMI, a Ugandan international aid and development agency. MIFUMI is opening doors for us to explore child welfare and adoption needs in Uganda, and while program development can take some time, we are already looking at opportunities for James, a 5-year-old boy who does not have family to care for him, who does not have a local children’s home to care for him, and with no other option, is living in a domestic violence shelter among women and children experiencing repeated trauma. We see James and the difficult situations he has already had in his short life, and we are moved to create something better for him and the millions of other children in situations like his.
In the past year, we’ve talked much about the changing face of adoption, but what we know has not changed is the number of children, particularly older children, sibling sets, and children with special needs, waiting to be adopted. Spence-Chapin has refocused efforts to help all families afford adoption by offering Adoptionships and specialized pre-adoptive parent preparation and training that will enable families to feel more confident about opening their homes to these children. It is with your ongoing commitment and needed support that we move forward with passion and dedication as we refine our vision and enhance our services to these resilient children and their adoptive forever families.
Visit our Flickr page to see pictures from this trip.
Read more about Waiting Children on our site.