Are you considering adopting an older child?
Adopting an older child can be a wonderful way to expand and grow your family. It can also be a great way to provide familial support and build a relationship with a child or teen who is in need of a forever family.
In 2015, over 425,000 children were in foster care, as reported by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. Over 100,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. That same year, more than 20,000 children were aged out of foster care because they were never able to reconnect with their birth families and were not adopted.
Older child adoptions are adoptees that are between the ages of toddlers to 21 years of age. While many older children have special needs or emotional baggage, they also need families and stable homes. Every child deserves a home.
Choosing to adopt an older kid can be incredibly rewarding for both you and your adopted child, and older kids can receive amazing benefits by being adopted. Stable homes can provide these children with positive role models, resources, support and more that will help them for the rest of their lives.
If you’re considering welcoming an older kid into your family, here are some things that you may not know about adopting an older child:
1. The older a child is, the more difficult it is for them to be adopted.
The average age of a child in foster care is 7.7 years. While babies are often adopted very quickly, the adoption rates of children over 8 decrease significantly. When a child reaches their teens, the rate drops even more. Most children in need of adoption are between the ages of 9 and 20.
Even though it can be very difficult for older children to get adopted, many are still waiting to find their forever families. Even though many children in need of families are almost adults, they still need the support and sense of belonging that having a family brings.
2. Individuals older than 18 can be adopted, too!
All children are in need of a family. In many states it is possible to adopt someone that is 18 years old or older. Having the support of a family is important at any age, even into early adulthood.
3. In older child adoption, the adoptee is actively apart of the adoption process.
In many states, adoption laws and regulations require that an older child give their consent to being adopted. This age varies by state, but fourteen is the most common age of consent. In some states, children as young as 10 have to give their consent to being adopted.
What does this mean for your family? When you adopt an older child, the adoptee has the opportunity to be a part of the adoption process. By giving their consent, the adoptee gets to actively choose and accept to become a part of your family!
4.Older child adoptions through foster care can often be quicker than other adoptions.
Because of the large number of older children in foster care waiting for families, it can often be quicker to adopt an older child than a younger child. Depending on where you are trying to adopt and what you are searching for, your adoption waiting time could be much shorter if you choose to adopt an older child.
5. Adopting an older child from foster care is also much more affordable.
A common misconception about adoption is that it’s an expensive process. Not only are older care adoptions quicker, but adoptions from foster care are also much cheaper than private and international adoptions.
Foster care adoptions usually range in cost from $0-$2,500, and can also be partially funded by your state. If you choose to adopt through Adoption STAR’s Adopt an Older Kid program, no placement fees are associated with older child adoption.
6. Children that are adopted do better in school and later in life, as compared to children who age out of foster care.
Because they have the support of a loving family, children that are adopted out of foster care often do better in high school and at university than those that remain in foster care. Children who are not adopted are much less likely to go to college.
Additionally, adopted children are less likely to face homelessness, unemployment, addiction, or incarceration. By adopting a child, you can drastically improve their chances and opportunities in life.
7. Children that are over 13 when they’re adopted have access to a lot of educational benefits.
There are many financial assistance programs for students coming from foster care or adoptees from the foster care system.
When planning for the future of your adopted child, keep in mind that children who were adopted at 13 or older are more likely to qualify for financial aid. Older adoptees can designate themselves as independent students on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms, and don’t have to count family income when calculating financial assistance.
Children that were adopted at 16 or older can also qualify for the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program assistance. Students in college or at vocational training programs can get up to $5,000 per year under this program.
You can learn more information about educational assistance for children coming from foster care on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.
8. You can also receive medical and health benefits for your child.
Medical and mental health assistance is also available to families that have adopted children out of foster care. The type of aid offered varies by state, but can range from disability aid, mental health counseling, health care, dental care and more, depending on the needs of the child.
To learn more about the types of Adoption Assistance offered by state, you can learn more on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.
Want to learn more about how to adopt an older child?
Learn more about Adoption STAR’s Adopt an Older Kid (A-OK) program to discover how we can help you begin the process of adopting an older child.
Adoption STAR created the A-OK program because a child waiting for an adoptive family is not A-OK. We believe that all children, of every age, should be able to find their forever family.
Through this program, we work with you throughout every step of the adoption process. We help your family can become certified to adopt children from foster care, match waiting children and families, and can prepare your family for the placement. After placement, we work with families post-placement and post-adoption.
You can also call us toll-free at 1-866-691-3300 to begin your adoption journey today.