Kids in the US “age out of the system” at 18. Could you imagine turning 18 and having to play adult without the love and support of a family behind you? I’m 31 and I feel that I’ve needed my mom more than ever over the past 2 years! You always needs parents and a family no matter how old you are. However, 18 is not the universal “age out” age. In China, 14 is the unfortunate number that children (children, not even legal adults) age out. So on the 14th birthday of a Chinese orphan, he or she is no longer eligible for adoption. This is not the case in the US; so long as a family out their wants you to join it, you can be adopted at age 102!
Could you imagine being 14 and knowing that you will never know the love of a family? Could you imagine being 13 and just watching those months tick on by? It breaks my heart! When we traveled to China for Kai’s adoption there were two 13 year olds (in our group of 20 families) who adopted 13 year olds. I cried so hard! It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. I made my husband promise me that we would be one of those families adopting a 13 year old sometime in the future.
To adopt a 13 year old is no easy feat. 13 year olds acquire language more slowly, they can fully process what an international adoption is and the finality of it all (they even have a say in the matter, if they don’t want to be adopted, they don’t have to be!) , and… they are teenagers! The dreaded t-word. But! They are in need of families too. They have (likely) been waiting for years on end for their forever families to find them. Just this week I saw that Preliminary Approval of Adoption was given for a 13 year old on one of the Facebook Advocacy groups that I’m a part of. I was elated! One less orphan, one more cherished son!
So, if you’re interested in adoption but are thinking to yourself “my kids are grown, I don’t want to head to the starting line all over again”, the good news is you don’t have to! Adopt a 13 year old. Allow them to experience all of the magic of middle and high school as a part of your loving family before sending them away for college. They’ll come back once their degree is done just like your bio kids did (wink, wink). Oh, if you fall in this category (and even if you don’t), plead consider the older or aging out child.