Posted by: connie | April 18, 2008

“Why did you adopt ‘older’ children?”

“Why?” That is such a HUGE question packed into just a three-letter word, isn’t it? 🙂

When my husband and I began the adoption process in the fall of 2000, we understood that the children available for adoption in Russia were rarely younger than nine months–more like 12 months and older. So, ‘older’ in our minds at that time meant toddler through five years old.

After completing and submitting our first dossier in January 2001, we set about patiently (yea, right!) waiting and preparing for the two toddlers we hoped to adopt. In the fall of 2001 it was becoming apparent that adoptions were slowing down significantly (and eventually stopped) in the region of Russia where our original adoption agency worked. We remained hopeful, but because we were encouraged to consider other adoption options we applied to a local crisis pregnancy outreach when we were informed of the need/requirement for documented Native Americans (which I am) willing to adopt children of Native American descent.

We were about five to six months into that process when I received an email from Ramona about an 11 year old Russian girl who wanted a family. Within 24 hours my heart and that of my husband’s was turned toward ‘older’ child adoption! By the time we received the photo (below) in early March 2002–five days after the email–we had already contacted the agency (not our original agency) to inform them of our intention to adopt this unknown 11 yr. old Russian orphan.

 First photo of Olga (05/2001)

The picture above is our Olga on her 11th birthday in 2001. THIS is the ‘little girl’ we claimed in our hearts and minds as ‘our daughter’.

Imagine our surprise–shock even–when in  May we received the picture below giving evidence that our ‘little girl’ was rapidly becoming an young woman!

 At our request, the orphanage director allowed a visiting American couple to interview and video younger children in the orphanage who were available for adoption–we’d told the director that we would like to adopt a younger girl at the same time we adopt Olga. It was in that video where we first ‘met’ our Nina (sorry, no still pictures were provided from that meeting and interview!), who was 8 at the time and was sort of ‘hand-picked’ for us by the orphanage director.

We never really labored over the matter of our girls being much older than we originally had planned, although we certainly did consider and discuss the huge change this would bring! Our subsequent reasoning in adopting older children did give rise to a smile and chuckle from our judge in Russia, as there was an Irish couple (traveling with us and our same agency) slightly older than us appearing in court to adopt their second toddler. When asked why they were adopting young children they reasoned that they were still young themselves and were up to the challenge of young children. When WE were asked the same question, we reasoned that because we were ‘older’ parents we would be better suited to raising ‘older’ children! 🙂

So, you see, ‘older’ child adoption sort of ‘grew’ on us as our hearts moved rapidly from toddlers to tweens!

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