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Adopting from Guatemala Completes the Family Picture

10
Mar

Stacy and her familyAlmost ten years ago, I was keeping busy as the mom to three biological daughters ages 5, 6, and 9. Life was good, however we couldn’t shake the feeling that our family wasn’t quite complete. After much thought and discussion we decided to add to our family, this time by adopting a child through international adoption.

Choosing a country was easy for us, we loved Latin American culture and at the time Guatemala was a popular program with a (usually) smooth and fast process. We quickly got started by filling out an application with our agency and beginning on the home study. Of course, a portion of the home study preparation required that we choose the characteristics of the child we hoped to adopt. There wasn’t a lot of discussion when it came time to make those decisions; my husband and I were on the same page, we both hoped to adopt an infant boy. We moved forward without hesitation and the following year brought home our beautiful son.

I wouldn’t change anything about our experience, and I know without a doubt that Daniel was the child meant for our family. However, I look back at our decision making process and wonder why we never considered adopting an older child. After all, our youngest child was five at the time, and we were obviously comfortable parenting children as old as nine, the age of our eldest daughter.

At the time we began researching adoption, information on adopting an older child was not nearly as accessible; the internet was just becoming a good source for information and adoption, in general, was not as commonly discussed. We knew few individuals who had adopted or were adopted, and even fewer who had experienced any part of an international adoption. I do believe that if my husband and I had the knowledge, experience, and support systems that are now available we might have considered a much broader age range when it came time to discuss characteristics with our home study agency.

MLJ Adoptions urges families to consider adopting an older child; these are the children that so desperately want and need a family, yet have much less chance of being adopted simply because they are “too old”. The definition of an “older child” can vary from country to country, but generally includes children ages five and older. For families adopting older children, MLJ Adoptions provides additional support throughout the adoption process so that families are prepared not only for the unique challenges that may arise with older child adoption but also for the rich and rewarding experiences that lie ahead. Once families arrive home with their child, support services are still available; we have ongoing support groups and can also provide individualized support as needed.

Older children are in need of adoption in all of our country programs, we have successfully placed older children with families from each and every one of these programs. Some of our programs are even focused specifically on older child adoptions. Our Mexico pilot program places children ages five and older in families, and our program in Ukraine primarily consists of children eight and older who are in need of families. In many of our country programs, the adoption of sibling groups is also a great need and these sibling groups often include both older and younger children.

MLJ Adoptions will be hosting an informational session on adopting from Latin America on Saturday, April 12 from 10:00 – 12:00. The event will take place at our offices located at 617 E. North Street, Indianapolis, IN. Families unable to travel into our offices may participate in the event via live cast. Please RSVP for either event here. You may obtain more information on adopting from Latin America here.

Stacy Jacobs is the MLJ Adoptions Associate Program Director for Eastern Europe and Latin America. She is the mother of four children, three biological daughters and one son adopted from Guatemala.