Adopting Older Teens: Should You Consider It?

Today I came across Nissa Gadbois’ new blog “At Home with the Gadbois Family.” They are attempting to raise $30,000 in order to bring home three teens from Ukraine. (If you would like to help, a link is on her site to the Paypal account set up for this purpose.)

I admire Nissa’s passion and resolve on behalf of these kids who, without her help, are very likely to “age out” of the institutional care they currently receive. It’s heartbreaking to even contemplate.

I’ve come to believe that God puts a custom-designed hole in the heart of every adoptive mother, that only the children HE has in mind for her can possibly fill. And once that hole is there, you want to move heaven and earth to protect and nurture that little soul. The thing is, it doesn’t feel like anything extraordinary, just what parents are supposed to do. Because you love your kids, no matter what. That’s what that “custom hole” is for.

Clearly, Nissa has that kind of hole in her heart as well, which is giving her family the courage to respond to the call to adopt these three kids. At the same time, I would urge caution to anyone considering adopting an older child: Be sure you go into it with your eyes wide open. The older the child, the greater the chances of trauma that all the love in the world may not be able to undo entirely. Yes, these children are a gift, and may be God’s gift to your family. But do your homework, all the while realizing that you may not uncover the full story for years. Attachment and bonding issues (especially with sibling groups or institutionalized children), drug and alcohol syndrome/exposure, sexualization, and other kinds of trauma and impairments may be in store.

That’s not to say “don’t do it.” Only, “Go into it, prayerfully and cautiously, knowing that you are heading down ‘a road less traveled’ and will need extra help along the way.”

God bless you! (And please help the Gadbois family if you can.)

2 thoughts on “Adopting Older Teens: Should You Consider It?

  1. I so admire people who adopt teens (and those who pursue other challenging adoptions). Mine was a newborn adoption, but had its own challenges which I think I’ve told Heidi about but which I don’t like to post about publicly out of concern for my son’s privacy. But even so, I’m sure it was nowhere near as challenging as adopting teens. I will definitely keep the Gadbois family in my prayers.


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