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Ideal Age Group for First Time Single Parent Adoption

I am a single woman in my late 20s, and I am thinking about pursuing an international adoption. I’m deciding on whether to adopt a toddler (1-3 years old), a preschooler (3-5 years old), or a young school-aged child (5-8 years old). What are the pros and cons of each age group. Is attachment more difficult when the child is older?


Attachment is a development that happens zero to three so what happened to this child zero to three? A great orphanage? proper nutrition? needs met? emotional needs met? touching?

Some kids can attach at a later age because they were with family and attached before. There is no way to predict by age group. You need to know history (abuse? neglect?)

Some older kids do OK because they can understand what is going on. Some do not do OK. Some little ones feel kidnapped. One moment in the orphanage with people and children they know the next in a country language unknown, no understanding of what a family or adoption means. There behavior problems often begin at about 10

I would read Toddler Adoption by Hopkins- Best. parenting the Hurt child by Keck, Building the Bonds Of Attachment by Hughes.

If you can get a toddler or preschooler who is going to care for her/him while you work? Attachment takes time so don’t expect it for months or even years.

I would check out the support groups in your area and on line. The estimate has been a third of the kids will do OK, a third will do OK with intervention (counseling maybe OT or sensory issues) and a third will not be OK no matter what you do whatever OK means.
Best of luck

Posted by Regina on Jul 05, 2019 at 4:59pm

Not all countries allow single parent adoption.  And many countries only place older children (meaning not infants or toddlers).  Regina gave you some good advice and good references.  I would look at which countries allow single adoption first.  Regardless of how you adopt, you will go through a homestudy process, and as a single parent you will be asked about your support system, who will care for child while you are at work, what if the child gets sick, what if something happens to you, etc.  There were a couple of recent threads from a prospective single dad that had some good information also.

Posted by jszmom on Jul 06, 2019 at 12:48am

As a single adoptive mom of two international children with no family located near the region which we live in, I will offer my insight. 

I agree that you should realistically consider childcare assuming that your child may not be “well adjusted” which could limit your options.  Many people are not willing or able to deal with the various traumas that these children suffer from - no child is in this situation because they were living in a stable and perfect world. 

Attachment will be an issue for any child and like with biological children, no two are the same - the best you can do is to learn as much as possible and keep an open mind.  My two children are twins and their attachment process has been totally different with very different timelines so I would not choose age based on that assumption.  Quite honestly, what I have learned is to stop trying to follow everyone’s “advice” and to follow my instincts which has been far more successful in developing their emotional maturity and solidifying the attachment.

I would suggest rather than focusing on age you should focus on what “special needs” you are willing to accept.  Each child, regardless of age, will come with special needs and bonding challenges.  Special needs can range from physical to intellectual to emotional or some combination of the above.  If you are looking for physically and intellectually healthy, the child will likely be older.

Only you can understand what you can accept, but your success will depend on reconciling this within yourself.  Read about the various special needs and what is required. has a lot of information in layman’s language - that may be a place to start your thought process.

As an aside, quite by coincidence, I met and fell in love with my twins and had to amend my home study to accommodate their age.  While we have had our ups and downs, I have never looked back and cannot imagine my life without them.

Best wishes on your journey.  Please take care.

Posted by Anne333 on Jul 06, 2019 at 1:38am

No one can guarantee a child will become attached to you, no matter what the age.

Posted by NoraT on Jul 09, 2019 at 4:56pm

Anne333 - thanks for your comments - you inspire me.  I am a single prospective father currently in the process of searching for a domestic older child or sibling pair 10+.

Posted by William5446 on Jul 27, 2019 at 1:16pm

Arleta James wrote a new book The Science of Parenting Adopted Children which is excellent. Gives the whys of behaviors as well as ideas of how to parent to meet the needs of Hurt kids. Easy read very well based in science. Loads of examples

Posted by Regina on Jul 27, 2019 at 1:27pm

William5446, the very best of wishes on your journey.  My twins were 8 when we started, 9 when the legalities were complete (although they lived with me for most of that time), and are now 14.  The joy far outweighs the heartbreak - what an amazing life we have.  Wishing you all the very best.

Posted by Anne333 on Jul 27, 2019 at 2:35pm

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