Contrary to conventional adoption “wisdom,” there’s no reason to believe that adopted children are any different from non-adopted children in that they have memories, however deep-seated, of their first months of life. That oft-repeated claim simply cannot be objectively verified.
Anyone thinking of adoption would do well to be mindful of the power of self-fulfilling prophecies. In this case, thinking that an adopted child is always teetering on the edge of a psychological abyss greatly increases the likelihood that the child will develop behaviors and emotional issues that verify that belief and leads almost inevitably to what I refer to as ongoing adoption dramas. The opposite is also true: thinking of an adopted child as an emotionally sturdy human being who is no less in need of a balanced combination of unconditional love and unequivocal authority than any other child is likely to result in an emotionally sturdy child.
The relatively indiscriminate warnings of adoption specialists (I am fully aware that there are notable exceptions to my characterization) often include warnings against using just about any form of punishment. That’s in keeping with the notion that these kids are especially fragile and often causes adoptive parents to start off on the wrong foot with an adopted child, especially if the child is older. When love is not balanced with an equal measure of authority, it will almost certainly be expressed as enabling, and once that snowball is gets rolling downhill, it’s very difficult to stop.
Adopted children do not benefit from being the center of attention, the center of lots of concern or the objects of lots of enabling. They benefit from being treated, from the outset, as normal, lovable little people who like all children will need to be firmly disciplined from time to time.
As for adopting an older child, that’s fine, but I do not recommend adopting a child older than the youngest child in a family, unless the youngest child is below age 3 (the age, on average, at which permanent memory begins to form). Violating already-established birth order can be disruptive to existing children.