National Adoption Directory

Find an Adoption Agency

Find an Adoption Attorney

Full Directory ►

Join Adoption Groups!

Click the arrows to expand each group category below

Family Building Options

Starting Out in Adoption

Waiting to Adopt

U.S. Newborn Adoption

U.S. Foster Adoption

International Adoption

My Family

My Adoption Interests

My Child's Age/Stage

My Location

The Adoption Triad

Adoptive Families Magazine

Older Child Adoption

Adopting an Older Child When You Currently Have An Only Child

I am a single mother to a 7-year-old daughter adopted internationally (when she was 2 years old). She has adjusted extremely well, and for the past five years it’s been just the two of us. I am considering adopting again; and I’m wondering if I should adopt an older child around my daughter’s age (a 6-8 year old girl; my daughter will be 8 by the time I even finish a homestudy). My daughter gets along well with her peers, and she has talked to me about wanting a sister for quite some time. Has anyone else (especially single parents) adopted an older child when you were currently parenting an only child? Were there major challenges with the kids bonding and getting along with each other? Has the relationship with your first child changed because of the second one?


I am a single mom who adopted a 4 year old girl, began trying to adopt again when she was 6 but it took so long to be matched she was nearly 9 by the time her sister came home. I had been looking for a little girl about 2 years younger than my older daughter, but ended up bringing home a 20 month old. That was great for me, but my older daughter was disappointed she didn’t get the playmate she was hoping for. At first my oldest was jealous of the attention the new baby got when we were out and about; oddly she was never jealous of my affections, but she was outgrowing her “cute little girl” stage at the same time I brought home an adorable toddler, and it was difficult for her to watch strangers fawn over the baby while she was ignored. But she did adjust to that eventually. Because of the age difference she regards her little sister as a pest, although she does love her and is protective of her.They are 10 and 3 years old now, and do bicker but it’s just normal sibling stuff, nothing extreme. My older daughter adjusted very well, although she definitely would have preferred a sister closer in age. I am looking to adopt again, and am looking for another girl in between my current 2 so there’s not such a huge age gap. General adoption wisdom says that to most successfully adopt a sibling you should not to adopt out of birth order, (so they would say not to adopt older than your current child), to avoid artificial “twinning”  and ideally to have no less than a 2 year age gap between the kids. But I personally think it all depends on the personalities of the children involved and the different family dynamics. You asked did it change the relationship with the first child, and in our case it didn’t really. My older daughter has medical problems, and I work as her stay at home nurse plus I homeschool. So for over 4 years it was her and I together, just the 2 of us, all the time. That created a really intense bond. I love my younger daughter, but the bond is not as intense as it is with my oldest, and I feel really guilty about that. I asked my daughter what advice she would give you, and the only thing she had to say was you should ask your daughter how she feels, and it sounds like you’ve already done that.

Posted by rn4kidz on Jan 11, 2019 at 1:02pm

Maybe they’ll get along, maybe they’ll hate each other. Maybe your existing child won’t mind losing your exclusive attention, although that’s a long shot.
As a former FFY, I cringe every time someone talks about how their fantasy child (as opposed to an actual flesh and blood one with real feelings) is going to “fit in” and fill a gap in their family.
And plenty of older adoptees get kicked out (euphemism is “rehomed”) because they don’t “fit in” or meet the needs of their adopters.
Don’t bring home a child because your daughter wants a playmate.

Posted by NoraT on Jan 11, 2019 at 1:36pm

If you bring home a 6-8 year old from foster care or internationally the chances that her emotional age and social age will be that number is slim. Institutional care, neglect abuse (who knows) have an effect on the child. So your daughter may be light years ahead of the new child so in many ways won’t be a peer.

If you want to adopt again that is fine but don’t do it because your child wants a sibling/playmate do it because you want to be the parent of another child.

What special needs are you willing to take? Are you thinking of domestic or international?

Search your heart and if you can provide a family and home for another child go for it.

Posted by Regina on Jan 11, 2019 at 2:12pm

Just FYI, I am NOT adopting so just so my daughter can have a playmate, as some of you are assuming. I’ve been carefully thinking about this for more than a year. I don’t want to adopt out of birth order, but I do want to adopt an older child. Therefore, 6-8 years old is the age range I would be open to. Also, I would like to pursue an international adoption from my daughter’s birth country (for those who were wondering what type of adoption I plan on doing)

Posted by ag11 on Jan 11, 2019 at 9:41pm

Thank you for your kindness in considering to provide a warm and loving home for a child.  Here are a few thoughts that you may wish to consider.
1.  Older children usually come with much more pain from negative experiences so the new child may demand a disproportionate percent of your time and attention for an extended period of time.  Are both you and your daughter comfortable with ceding what at times may feel like all of your time, energy, and love? 
2.  Parenting older adopted siblings is tough, particularly as a single mother (I know, I am doing it), but bringing an unrelated child who likely will be excessively emotionally needy into an existing relationship will stress even the strongest of relationships. 
3.  Most children are biased towards being self-centered (many adults are as well) - does your daughter understand what helping her “sister” may entail from her?  There will be wonderful moments, but there likely will be moments that are far from that as your new child works through her emotional adjustment.
4.  Do you have family who can provide a layer of support? 

I congratulate you for even considering the possibility of adopting an older child (most will not) and will encourage you to follow your heart, but you should be very prepared as to what the commitment may entail.  It sounds like you had a great and relatively drama free experience bonding with your daughter, but emotional healing at the age of 6-8 will likely be more challenging.  I wish you all the very best on your journey.

Posted by Anne333 on Jan 11, 2019 at 10:57pm

Not sure if you will see this as it has been so long since you posted. We adopted a 12 year old from foster care when we had a 13 year old biological daughter.  Our adopted daughter had and continues to have many issues and she and our bio daughter never became close. Our adopted daughter moved out the day she turned 18 and we’ve hardly heard from her since then.  She had mental illness in her bio family, and some learning challenges, the 5 1/2 years she lived with us were extremely challenging, but thankfully my husband and I are still married (!) 
We hope the loving home we provided for her will help her throughout her life.

Based on my experience, I would advise you to adopt if your overriding purpose is to provide a home and support for a needy child and help them to get off to a good start in life.  But don’t expect strong relationships between our adopted child and you or your existing child.  If that happens, it’s wonderful.
But if it doesn’t, know that older children have a lot of challenges and some of them are life long, and not overcome by a loving adoptive family.

Posted by western mom on Dec 09, 2019 at 3:06am

Reply to this thread

You must be logged in to reply. To login, click here. Not a member? Join AdoptiveFamiliesCircle today. It's free and easy!


Find an Adoption Agency

Find an Adoption Attorney or Agency

Search the full directory ►