The Challenges of Adopting a Toddler
While many adoptive parents want only newborns, statistics show that nearly half of all domestic adoptions (47%) and a majority of international adoptions (59%) involve children between the ages of one and four. Authorities say that, with the large numbers of children between the ages of six and 12 months who are adopted from China every year, the likelihood that adoptive parents will bring home a child who has already adapted to another environment are substantial. And they caution prospective birthparents—even children between six and 12 months of age have the awareness to understand a change in circumstances. For the parents, it almost always gets built up to be a joyous occasion, but for the child, according to one adoption specialist, it can feel like “being kidnapped.” And the older the child, the more difficult the transition.
If you are considering adopting a young child, instead of an infant, here are some factors to consider:
- The child will most likely engage in extreme behaviors—You need to understand that you have taken the child from everything that he or she knows, that has provided any sense of connection or security. The child feels the loss, but lacks the verbal and cognitive skills to communicate that to you. Accordingly, he or she relies on the only tools available—expressions of behavior. Your adopted child may cry for hours on end, break things or act aggressively toward other children, pets or you. You will have to have a great deal of patience.
- Do you have the physical stamina to keep up with a small child? A typical response by a toddler to a change in environment is to seek constant attention. Your adopted child may want to be held all the time or may want you to play with them on a regular basis. They may be overwhelmed by curiosity, getting into everything.
- What are your expectations regarding basics, such as toilet-training and sleep patterns? What was the nature of the care the child received before adoption? Were they neglected? If so, they may be developmentally lagging.
- Who can you turn to for help? There will come times when you are at your wit’s end. Do you have a strong family or other type of support network? You’ll need it.
- What will the impact be on existing family members? If you already have children, you need to consider how they will respond to having another child in the house. If appropriate, consider involving them in the adoption process.
Contact Adoption Attorneys Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC
At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests.