YouTube has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that people love puppies. Puppies are roly. They are poly. Puppies don’t have bad habits, are easy to hold and love to play. That’s why puppies are the gold standard for adoption. In most instances puppies are going, going, gone!
Older dogs are a different matter. Older dogs have personalities and they may have bad habits. And past abuse may have created negative behavior traits. Finding an exact fit with a new family and an older dog is much tougher as any animal shelter employee can tell you. Some older dogs are never adopted at all. This unfortunate canine phenomenon exists in human adoption, too, and the result is even worse.
Babies are a hot commodity and so scarce here in the U.S. that some prospective adoptive parents will spend thousands of dollars to adopt a baby from overseas — while older children are ignored and left behind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero, Gloria Russo Wassell, and Victor Groza have written a new book: “Adopting Older Children: A Practical Guide to Adopting and Parenting Children Over Age Four” that is designed to help couples that would like to adopt but have questions about how adoption works with older children.
In an interview with MyCentralJersey.com, Bosco-Ruggiero said “people hesitate when considering adopting an older child because they concern that the child will have severe behavioral or emotional problems stemming from backgrounds of abuse and neglect.” While those factors complicate an adoption, these problems can be successfully overcome.
Prospective adoptive parents should begin by discussing the process with other parents that have adopted older children. These placements require dedicated follow-up by the agency and the use of other professionals. These parents can tell you how their adoption agency performed for them.
Groza also says there’s an important mental element for adoptive parents confronted by challenges after adoption. “Parents want to be perfect parents, and they think reaching out sometimes is a sign of failure," he said. "But I think reaching out is a sign of good parenting.”
The book offers a number of suggestions for behavior modification to gradually eliminate problems that developed before adoption. But I don’t want this discussion of potential problems to reinforce already existing negative stereotypes. I’ve had problems with my children who weren’t adopted.
Raising any child is a process filled with emotional highs and lows. Older children need loving homes just as much as the cuddly babies. If you’ve been considering adoption, take a look at this book. Adoption is a commitment as lasting and enduring as that of marriage and not to be made lightly. But like a good marriage there is a potential for love and joy that is unmatched.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.