When You Miss the First Four Years . . .


When you miss the first four years of your child’s life, you might look at things a bit differently . . .

You might order four little birthday cakes, light a bunch of extra candles, and sing for every single birthday you didn’t get to sing for.

Older child adoption - making up for lost time with birthday cakes for all the birthdays missed

You might decide to do “half-birthdays” to make up for all the celebrating you missed in those early years.

Older child adoption - making up for lost time by celebrating half birthdays!

You might become that “matchy mama” that you never thought you’d be — on vacation and in Christmas jammies and even on a random Tuesday — because it makes your little one smile SO BIG!

You might have too many photo shoots, and take a million photos and videos of your own . . . you might even fill up your iPhone and computer with memories — because it feels like they’re growing up too fast, and you don’t want to miss a single moment now that they’re here!

You might still pick up and carry your child when they ask at six . . . seven . . . almost eight . . . (I will do it until I physically can’t anymore!) because you didn’t get to hold them as a baby. You might still rock them to sleep in a rocking chair — even if their feet are hanging off the side . . . because there’s no such thing as “too old for that” or “too big for this” when you missed their first four years. 

When you adopt, and you miss the first few years of your child’s life . . . you’ll still have moments when they drive you crazy. You’ll still have times when you need a break, need some quiet, need some space. But you will never take for granted the fact that they’re finally home with you.

You might get choked up when you see a mom with a baby or a toddler. There will be days when you grieve the ages you missed. You might feel like less of a mom when the other mothers talk about the stages you missed. But you aren’t, Mama . . . you aren’t. Because you are doing all you can to make up for those lost days. 

When you miss the first few years of your child’s life — be sure to hold space for yourself and for them when both your hearts ache. Let the tears fall — over the ouchies you didn’t get to smooch, the hard days without your hugs, and the lonely nights you weren’t there to hold them. And then squeeze in some extra kisses and snuggles whenever you can.

I will never get over the days I missed with my little darling, and I’ll never get them back . . . but I will do all I can to fill the days we have together with LOVE. 

Adoption of a child over the age of 2 is considered an “older child” adoption, and it’s something many adoptive parents shy away from. We brought our darling girl home from Thailand exactly one month shy of her 4th birthday. While it was a hard transition, it was also the best choice we ever made! Grief and trauma are part of every adoption (no matter the age), and while I wish we didn’t have to miss a single moment of our little girl’s life, I am so glad we said YES to adopting her. It takes my breath away to think of what we would have missed without her in our lives! She is brilliant, brave, funny, kind, compassionate — and has the BIGGEST heart. I feel so grateful to get to be her mama! 

Are you considering an older child adoption? November is National Adoption Month! Take a look at Heart Gallery Alabama or reach out to Agape here in Birmingham if you are; or visit Adopt Us Kids for a national resource. Considering the international adoption of an older child? Holt International is a wonderful agency that brings families together around the world. Don’t forget to find a TBRI trauma-informed adoption counselor to support your family through the process (especially post-adoption), and check out Empowered to Connect for the very best adoptive parenting resources!

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Just days after graduating from Auburn University, Ericka took a trip to Africa that changed her life forever. She discovered two unexpected things there: a passion for orphan care, and her husband Rusty! Together they founded The Sound of Hope, and have spent the past 10+ years working to provide holistic care to vulnerable children around the world. Though her heart (and time) is divided between other countries – she’s proud to call Birmingham, Alabama home! When Ericka & Rusty decided to grow their family through adoption, they never guessed it would take five heart-wrenching years to get their daughter home from Thailand. These days Ericka tries to soak up every moment of long-awaited motherhood to their beautiful little girl, Kate. Their Thai darling is growing up way too fast, and Ericka is mildly obsessed with over-documenting it all on Instagram and her blog! In addition to managing The Sound of Hope, Ericka and her husband run a video & photography business called RJackson Media. In her “free time" (do moms have free time?!) Ericka enjoys gardening, decorating, and DIY projects. She also loves singing, dancing, and acting – and was cast in her very first musical theatre role last year. She firmly believes that you’re never too old to try something new!