Adopting Older Youth

Adopting Older Youth: More Understanding, Less Expectations

By Layla

Just as many of you, I have encountered internal struggles around adoption. Speaking as an older youth, I had the experience to live with and love my biological family. I then moved into foster care and a year later I was adopted. Throughout my life I was left and abandoned on multiple occasions. The hurt was tremendous but I survived. The biggest problem with the adoption process is that we all, meaning the adoptive parents on the children, and the children on the parents, have expectations but in reality you can't expect anything.

My mother passed away when i was 6 years old. I was left with my 2 younger siblings and my father. My uncle lived with us too. All of this was a hard blow. Not going to lie but she was the first of many to leave. My grandmother then kinda took my mom’s place; I found out she had cancer a year after. This hurt me and so I took my mother’s, and grandmother’s spot. I didn't want anyone else leaving my two younger siblings and I knew I was permanence for them. Loss and trust issues seem to be in a lot of adoptee stories. You try to learn to live with it…but it's hard when you move into adoption homes and are expected to trust each other within a few months or even a year.

On my journey, my father, uncle, and newly found girlfriend of my dad’s all abused my siblings and me. It was emotional and physical pain shooting through every direction. I guess you don't notice these things in the moment because everything slowly progresses but when I stepped out of that environment and saw the damage it caused on my life, I just felt hopeless and as much as you want to continue to give your love to everyone, you have to work on your own heart and repair a few things so the love stays pure. The adoption community has a way of pressuring youth into trying to make you love a certain way. (mother-daughter, father-son relationships) and this is something that formulates lash-outs and such… but love just takes time especially with adopting older youth such as myself. You have to learn to mesh together.

Finally I don't know if this is a thing for everyone but throughout my foster and adoption experience, people always tried to find a disability or problem with me when in reality I was fine; I had to fight to make sure I didn't have anyone jumping at my throat trying to diagnose me with something. It is important to be aware but this was a problem that I believe I shouldn't have had to deal with and I feel like this has happened to many adoptees. It is an expectation that hurts adopted youth or rather me.

In conclusion adoption is a hard and drawn out process. One that is worth it in the long run but there needs to be more understanding and less expectations. Life will take its course and everything that you dreamed about will be fulfilled…just in a different way and one that is unique to yourself. Just be open minded and see the beauty in what it is -- it is different for everyone.