Adopting 8 year old - questions????
We are in the process of adopting an 8 year old little boy from the state(Texas). I have so many questions and hope that some of you with experience can help. This has truly been a loooong process. We were notified about a month ago that we were chosen for him and we finally received his package last Friday and reviewed it over the weekend. On Monday morning we advised our worker that we still wanted to proceed after reading his file. Our worker said the next step would be to set up a conference call with his worker and forster parent so that the "staffing" (questions can be answered) could take place. It is now late in the week and yet again we have not gotten a date and time set. It seems like the communication is poor (my worker constantly claims she has tried to get ahold of his worker and is waiting on a call back) and everything moves at a snails pace. We actually submitted interest in this little boy in September and it has taken this long to get where we are. I am really getting frustrated with the "system" and its non-motivated approach. I actually joked that we will probably get him by the time he is in High School. Has everyone else had this type of experience??? I have resorted to harassing my case worker by calling every day, if not twice a day in hopes that she will try to motivate the situation and all she says is "I am waiting on them to call".

Anyhow - here are some of my other questions - what sort of questions would be ideal to ask the foster mother about the child prior to actually meeting the child?? I know that we have been told she will be at the "staffing" to answer any questions we may have and I am just trying to think of them all. How was visitation performed for those of you that have adopted older children? We have been told that we will have to make a visit to him one weekend and he will then visit us the next and within two weeks after that he will be permanently placed with us. How have some of you that have adopted an older child bonded with yours?

I know this is long and I appreciate any input you may have!


I have not adopted an older child but I am an attorney who represents a 10 year old boy who is being adopted from foster care. I think it is very important to establish a relationship with the foster parents. Maybe ask your worker if it would be all right if you just contacted them directly instead of waiting for this conference. Other than the standard "what is he like" questions. I would try to find out what his transition to their house was like. What problems were there? When did they come in time and in circumstance? How did they resolve the problems? What did they try that did not work? What kind of things is he bringing with him. Is there anything that is important to him that you will need to replace right away because it is not coming with him (like a bike).

Ask if you can take just the foster mom or dad (whoever spend the most time with him) out to lunch. It will be very benficial to have time alone without the "state" or the child present to get a better feel for the child.

I read "my kid's" file that was given to the potential adoptive parents and it was not accurate or helpful at all. I was able to give the adoptive parents some really good pointers that helped ease the transition from a regular person's point of view instead of a social workers point of view.

I am sure both he and the foster family is dying to meet you and get on with the process. Anything you can take off the social worker's plate will move the process along faster. My experience has been that while they may limit your access to official information at this point that they are generally more than happy to give you access to the unofficial (and usually better) sources of information like the foster parents.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

Thank you Jen. The official file actually contained a large amount of information about the birth family and even my worker said that she had never seen such a complete file with such thorough information. I am just getting a little frustrated at the slow pace. Your question ideas have been very helpful - thank you! Can I ask where do you practice law at??
I am not a lawyer but I would ask what his meals are like, bedtime routine. I would ask if he has physical and psychological issues and if he's been to counseling previously. I would ask if he has experienced abuse previously. I would also ask if he is aware of his adoption and how has he been expressing his feelings about being adopted? Is he happy, worried, anxious? Would he like to talk to us on the phone and visit? Is there anything he is worried about, concerned about or curious about that he would like to ask of us? Does he express a desire to see his biological family? How is he doing developmentally for his age? What are his favorite colors? Favorite foods? Whats his bedtime routine? Has he been to the same school or was he moved around? What is his performance in school? How does he feel about his school performance? Does he have siblings that he has been separated from that he may want to visit? Is he in contact with his siblings?
Of the seven children we have adopted, three have been 'older child adoptions through the state system'. When each was placed, one child was seven, one child was six and one child had just turned three years old.
We had the first one for four years before he was admitted into a residential facility and will forever be in an institutional setting due to his dangerous and unpredictable behaviors.
The second one was here for seven years, before shocking us all and having to be placed out of our home. He now is also in residential because his behaviors are far too harmful and dangerous to be within a traditional home.
The final 'older child' continues to live with us, and has attachment issues that we feel will always be present. This was the youngest child of all when being placed with us.

Obviously then, our experiences with older adopted children have NOT been good ones. However, in defense of older child adoption, I know there HAVE to be some good and successful ones....
But, having taught behavioral disordered children, and through our own heartwrenching years and horrific events, we have gleened a lot of knowledge and experiences. Because of our experiences, I have complied my own list of questions I think are important for any couple to ask if considering the placement of an older child. I have been told that these quesitons have been very helpful. I hope they help you in some way:


Questions for parents considering the placement of a special needs child.

1. # of placements child has had; how long they lasted, why they disrupted. (Usually
folks are uneasy to disclose the 'why'....but I'd really try to find out!)
2. Permission (and I've done this w/o permission too) to contact past foster parents. (This
info can prove to be INVALUABLE...and most foster parents will gladly provide info as
to the 'why')
3. "Why" didn't past foster parents adopt this child?
4. At what age was the child 'removed from the home'..what type of pre-natal care
(especially drug use, etc), what's the situation with any sibs (adoption, prenatal drug use,
residential care, etc.?)
5. What kind of medication is the child on NOW....and what types has the child been on
previously? (Also, what types of diagnoses has this child been given in the past, by what
type of professional (psychiatrist,psychologist, or your 'mental health counselor' who
suspects something?)
6. What prompted termination? Did either parent voluntarily surrender and 'why'? Try to
get the psychologicals on the birthparents. (In some places, this is a 'no-no'...but we've
been given these before w/o asking. Many psychological traits have a genetic
7. Where are the biologicals now? Are there relatives in the area near you, and any chance
they'll be a problem?
8. What kinds of hospitalization (especially ER) has this child had? tests, etc. If so, you'd
like the paperwork!
9. What's this child been told about adoption? Does this child lament for his/her
10. What type of relationship did this child have with birthparents? ie, was this child
forced into being the 'parent' because parents were unable to be just that? Did this child
have to take care of younger, older sibs?
11. How does this child perceive him/herself? Is she self-centered? Does she share well?
(And I don't care how old the child is....this may still be a problem.)
12. Has or has this child EVER had a diagnoses of RAD (reactive attachment
disorder)...or ANY type of attachment disorder? How has 'the system' helped this child
deal with this? (Holdings, play therapy, etc.)
13. How long has this child been in therapy, and what types have been used?
14. Does this child act out sexually? If not now, EVER? And IF ever, how and how long
since the last time? of the most IMPORTANT questions we think you should ask YOURSELF:
"If this child were to get NO better after being in our home, could we handle his/her
behaviors 'just as they are, NOW' if there would be NO improvement, etc.
I think this is important, as classes continually say that 'this child just needs some love
and attention and permanancy, and you'll see how much improvement this child will
make!!!" This DOESN'T ALWAYS happen, and is a point to consider when taking on
special needs children.
There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child - and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own. ~Robert Brault
Rea, I don't have advice, just wanted to wish you a successful and fast process.
ditto on linnys questions (great questions by the way)

these questions are very very important to ask. Those questions, if not asked, wont even be discussed, you have to actually ask.

great questions linny....wish someone told me what questions to ask before we went through

well, maybe not, then i wouldnt have my kids... :clap:

I PM'd you.

Hi Rea,

We have any 11 yr old in adoptive placement right now. The process was very tedious. It seemed like it took forever for the SW's to get back to each other and then by Monday everything had changed. I think that Linny gave you some good things to ask about and think about. Medications, wanting to be adopted, visitations & attachment disorders, safety of our kids & pets- were on our list. Maintaining a therapy schedule can be hard if a move is involved, too.

Somestimes, of course, the info that you get isn't really what is going on. Sometimes it's old or incorrect. Just try to be flexible with what you can.

We had thought dd's foster mom would be a wealth of info, but that never really panned out. I think that she felt it best to detach herself from the situation. DD has tried to call her to no response.

Information on siblings and their placements, situations, locations if applicable. This has been a problem for us as dd has many.

Mabey try and think of issue that may be big for you and make sure to ask about those. Bedwetting, masturbation, lying, hoarding food...might be no problem for one person, but could make someone else flip out.

I did actually print out lists for dh & I to take to the meetings so we didn't forget stuff.

Medical History
Religious Backround
School history
How has she been disciplined
Special Habits
Bedtime routine
What has she been told about sex/ have her period? (She's 11)
Visits, contact w/relatives or friends
Traditions important to maintain
and a lot of misc stuff like food, music, TV shows, sports, hobbies....

Just ask anything you can think of. Smile
All of your information has been so helpful - thank you! We have seen his file and are aware of his bparents medical history, his medical history, school history, foster history, etc. We were also able to read all of his psycologist reports from each therapy visit (VERY helpful), his CW monthly visit reports, all correspondance from the state to his bparents. His bparents also provided family trees and pictures which would be at our descretion to pass on some day. I really am just concerned about the transition period and how best to handle it and what questions to ask the foster parent. History is fairly complete, just the future that is a huge question mark!

I adopted a 6 year old. After I read her file, and decided to proceed, I made a very simple "scrapbook" that had about 10 pages. Each page had one picture and the caption in large letters like "this is your room", "this is me, I am mom", "these are our dogs"... The agency gave it to her before we ever met. That way I wasn't a complete stranger to her when we met. It gave her a visual of her "life-to-be", and is something she treasures to this day.
Good luck!!!
Rea, I am in Nevada. I don't actually practice much law anymore. I work for a corporation. The stuff I do with foster kids is volunteer work. This will be the last time I do it. I am not at all good at treating the children like clients. I have way too much of an urge to mother them.

That file sounds pretty well documented. I hope that is a sign he has been getting good care.

I am an adoptive mom...two of those being older child adoptions. Please don't let the negativity on here and other places scare you off. THESE CHILDREN NEED PARENTS, TOO! Yes, it's hard, VERY HARD. However, in my opinion, it is much more rewarding to parent a child who's been basically written off as a lost cause and then you see them turn around into wonderful, productive members of society. It ain't all flowers and walks in the park around here, we do have our days. BUT, I'm so glad I did it and would do it again anytime!!!

God bless you!!!
dadfor2 said...
well, maybe not, then i wouldnt have my kids... :clap:

ABSOLUTELY, DAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BEAUTIFULLY SAID.

I am an adoptive mom of 8...two of those being older child adoptions. Please don't let the negativity on here and other places scare you off. THESE CHILDREN NEED PARENTS, TOO! Yes, it's hard, VERY HARD. However, in my opinion, it is much more rewarding to parent a child who's been basically written off as a lost cause and then you see them turn around into wonderful, productive members of society. It ain't all flowers and walks in the park around here, we do have our days. BUT, I'm so glad I did it and would do it again anytime!!!

God bless you!!!
The Waiting Game
Hi all!!
I'm brand new to this site,we are hoping to adopt through the foster system,but it really is a longer process than I expected!! Why does it seem to be so hard to adopt when there are so many children waiting for families?
Linny...Those were GREAT questions to ask!! Thanks,I printed them out and I'll save them in case I need them.
Rebav...Good luck on your wonderful,L O N G journey!
Momto...God Bless you for giving yourself to NINE others,fulltime and the countless other children you have fostered!! Everyone deserves a family!!
Well,I hope to be posting again...soon!
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