10 Things You Need to Know About Adopting an Older Child

The Schell family, who have adopted four children.

One of the most common special needs among children waiting for an adoptive family isn’t a physical need at all—it’s simply being older than the age of 5. These children have waited a long time for a family, and often, being considered an “older child” means they wait even longer.

Think you could be the right family for older child adoption? Read the 10 things you need to know about adopting an older child.

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All She Can Do

Since uniting with her family, Devki Horine — who has cerebral palsy — has amazed them with all she can do. 

Devki fits so naturally in the Horine family. But a lot of thought, prayer and preparation went into the Horines’ decision to be open to a child with cerebral palsy.

Once the Horines were matched with Devki, they dove into learning more about cerebral palsy. They learned that it’s not a neurological condition, and that with a commitment to physical therapy, kids with cerebral palsy can grow strong and work through many obstacles.

Devki’s cerebral palsy mostly affects her left side, and the muscle stiffness is felt especially in her ankles and feet — which, for an energetic 5-year-old, means falling down a lot. But her development has been amazing since she’s joined the Horine family.

“She has gone from literally 10 to 20 falls a day down to maybe half a dozen — just little trips now,” her mom Terry says.

Through physical therapy, Devki’s coordination, balance and strength have gotten better and better. While her special need has caused the Horines to make small changes here and there, they say it’s been minimal.

“At first [when she would fall down], you’d want to help her every time,” her dad Drew says. “But if we don’t make a big deal out of it, she doesn’t. Now she bounces off the floor all day long — she gets up and dances around.”

One thing that’s clear is that Devi’s cerebral palsy won’t hold her back. She’s learned that when she falls down, she’s strong enough to get back up on her feet again.

This is an excerpt from a longer story that appeared on Holt’s blog in 2017. Read the full story here.

Adoption grants are available for eligible children with special needs through our Families Not Finances campaign. Learn more about the campaign here.

The Five Most Common Heart Conditions Among Children Who Need Adoptive Families

Read about the five most common congenital heart defects among children waiting for adoptive families, as well as potential challenges, treatment plans and stories from Holt families who have adopted children with a heart condition.

Congenital heart defects are problems of the heart’s chambers, valves or blood vessels that develop before birth. This condition encompasses a broad range of defects, most of which affect how blood flows through the heart or through the blood vessels near the heart. Some defects may cause blood to flow in an abnormal pattern, while others completely or partially block blood flow.

A baby may be born with just one, or several heart defects, some of which may need little or no medical treatment even through adulthood. Others are more serious and can endanger the life of the child — either immediately to the newborn, or over time. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to the lifelong health and wellbeing of a child born with a congenital heart defect. Continue reading “The Five Most Common Heart Conditions Among Children Who Need Adoptive Families”

Expert Advice About Adopting a Child With Alcohol Exposure

In this Q&A, Dr. Eckerle and Dr. Gustafson share answers to some of the top questions parents ask about adopting a child with alcohol exposure.  Both Dr. Eckerle and Dr. Gustafson are Korean adoptees who work with adopted children and their families, with a special focus on alcohol exposure and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). 

Q: If a child has exposure to alcohol, does this always mean that they have FASD?

A: No. Most alcohol-exposed kids will not be on the FASD spectrum. The issue is that, when they are young, we do not know if they will be more or less affected.

Continue reading “Expert Advice About Adopting a Child With Alcohol Exposure”

Adopting a Waiting Child; A Q&A With Holt Social Worker Zoila Lopez

Holt clinical social worker Zoila Lopez answers the most commonly asked questions about adopting a child on Holt’s waiting child photolisting. 

Zoila, pictured with Charlie, one of the children waiting for an adoptive family! Learn more about eight-year-old Charlie here.
Zoila, pictured with Charlie, one of the children waiting for an adoptive family! Learn more about eight-year-old Charlie here.

Who are the children on Holt’s waiting child photolisting?

The children on Holt’s waiting child photolisting are a diverse group of kids in orphanage or foster care with individual needs ranging in ages from 1 (which is an outlier) to 16 years old. All the children on the photolisting require additional advocacy to help identify the best adoptive families for them. Every country program has different child profiles, and the range of special needs is broad. There are many children who are physically healthy whose only special needs are their age (as children age 5 or older are considered “special needs”), a history of trauma and some level of developmental delay. There are also children with very involved medical, emotional and/or developmental needs. Continue reading “Adopting a Waiting Child; A Q&A With Holt Social Worker Zoila Lopez”

No Holding Back; How One Family Funded Their Adoption

Ready to adopt, but short on funds, Kevin and Sarah Brown reach out to their community — and learn a beautiful lesson in return. 

For Kevin and Sarah Brown, adoption felt like a natural choice. High school sweethearts from Nashville, Tennessee, they – like many young couples — knew they wanted a family someday. But also like many young couples, they weren’t in any hurry. “Then we turned 35,” Sarah says. After watching a documentary about children growing up in orphanages in China, they made up their minds. Continue reading “No Holding Back; How One Family Funded Their Adoption”

My Cherished Son

Adoptive mom Jen Skipper shares about adopting her son who has developmental delays — the unknowns, the hardships and the hope she now has for his future.

It was time to go and meet our fifth child, our second adoption from China. Our path to him had been clear — we knew he was the boy that God had led us to. He was to be our son. We knew he would come to us with a couple medical diagnoses and some developmental delays. We thought his developmental delays included learning to walk and speak late. At 2 years old, he was just starting to babble.

I had poured over his paperwork and felt like all of his reported delays were simply related to being institutionalized, and I was encouraged by the great strides in his development after joining a foster family in China. I had heard stories of institutionalized kids coming home to their forever family and overcoming so many of their delays. I was optimistic and ready to welcome my son into my heart and our family forever.

Jen and Marc in their first days with their son in China.

The moment he was placed into my arms in China at almost 3 years old, I knew his delays and issues were more severe than I had anticipated or imagined. He was laughing and smiling, and that was not how kids are supposed to act when being placed into a stranger’s arms.

We took him back to our motel room and I realized he was not making eye contact with any of us. He had no verbal communication and was rummaging through every garbage can he could find, looking for something to play with. He hit himself repeatedly and when we went anywhere new, he would go cross-eyed and grind his teeth. He was so scared and couldn’t communicate it. And so was I.

Continue reading “My Cherished Son”

5 Things to Know About Adopting a Child With Developmental Delays

As prospective adoptive families learn more about adoption and the children who are waiting to join families, they may frequently run into the term “developmental delays.” But what does this mean, exactly?

Developmental delays can present in many different ways, often encompass unknowns in a child’s development, and are different for every child.

Here are five of top things to know about adopting a child with developmental delays:

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