It is highly uncommon for parents to willingly put older children up for adoption. Any child that is not an infant or toddler counts as an "older child." This is a very difficult decision, especially because of the emotional and psychological impact it makes on these older children. Typically, older children in foster care and who are available for adoption are there not because their parents wanted to give them up at this later stage, but because these children were taken from their parents and from unsafe environments.
However, it is neither impossible nor unheard of for parents to choose to give up their older children. Extreme situations are often the cause. Examples of these extreme cases are parents who realize that they cannot raise children as well as they thought, the family's deeply impoverished state may lead to placing children in the foster system anyway, or the older children that are being adopted out are special needs children and one or both parents cannot manage the care needs of the child. If you or you and your partner have decided that you cannot be parents anymore, and you think adoption of your older children is the answer, here are the whys and hows of this procedure.
The adoption agencies try very hard to provide counseling and support to birth parents. When birth parents are facing incredibly difficult challenges with their children, counseling and several other forms of state and local support may help them stay together as a family unit. For families that are under stress, counseling and support services can alleviate the stress and possibly change the parents' minds regarding adoption. If you go through all of the possible services provided, and still feel that your children would be better off with a loving family that can provide for them, then you can proceed.
Understanding What Happens When You Put Older Children up for Adoption
Adoption is not a respite period for you. When you put older children up for adoption, you surrender all of your parental rights so that the adoptive parent or parents gain full rights over your children. You will not be able to reclaim them. You may be able to secure the right to visit them from time to time, if the adoptive parents agree to it.
Once you sign away your rights to your children, that is it. If you clearly understand that, then move ahead. If you hesitate because you love your children, and just need some time away from them, ask others for help wherever you can get it. A week's respite in a group home for the children may be enough to renew your strength to care for them, or firm up your decision to put your older children up for adoption.
If Your Children Are Able to Speak and Express Emotion, the Separation Will Be Hard
You should expect an extremely painful and emotional goodbye when a family has adopted your children. In some states, the children will be removed from your care (because you are no longer legally responsible for them), and placed in foster care until the adoptive family is ready to take them home.
Either way, your children will be very tearful, try desperately to get back to you, not understand why you are sending them away, and want answers. You can reassure them of your love for them, and that you are not sending them away because of how you feel. Let them know that what you are doing is the best for them, and that you will never stop loving them. This will help the transition away from you go a little more smoothly.
Contact an adoption agency for additional advice.