Recently, I had the chance to share my family's story with a group of people beginning the process of adopting children through foster care. Their hopeful, curious, excited faces reminded me what it was like to be contemplating adopting an older child and how thirsty I was to hear from families who'd done it.
Our daughter was five and a half when we met her. She moved in with us just six weeks before her first day of kindergarten. She has taught me more about courage and human strength than I've ever learned from anyone. Today, she's a busy, opinionated middle schooler who is taller than I am. We are as proud of her as any parents could be.
I remember the mixed responses I got when I told people we were adopting an older child. People asked us all kinds of questions, most of them variations on "Isn't it hard?" Well, is it hard? Sure! It's hard, but it's also fun, deeply meaningful, and a source of great joy.
Building a family this way can feel like swimming in the opposite direction from everybody else. It means moving against a culture that encourages us always to pursue what's easiest and most comfortable. Because making a family through older child adoption is so different from the norm, people need special encouragement to consider it.
Adopting isn't right for everyone. If it's not right for you, you still can support the adoption of older kids in lots of ways. My family has gotten support from all kinds of people: from neighbors who care about our child, from employers who are flexible enough that we parents can do our jobs and meet our daughter's needs, from co-workers who threw us a "big kid shower" instead of a baby shower, and from the friends and family who love and stand by us all no matter what.