Many people associate adoption with bringing a brand new baby home from the hospital. But what if the right child for you is actually a grade schooler or teenager? In honor of National Adoption Month this November, read on to find out why adopting an older child\u00a0into your life could be the best decision for your family. 1. There\u2019s an immediate need \u201cThere\u2019s a real urgency for children in our state,\u201d says Sharon Pierce, President and CEO of The Villages, who believes Indiana currently faces a foster care and adoption crisis. Between August 2014 and August 2015, the number of Children in Need of Services (CHINS) in Indiana increased by nearly 4,000. Typically, well over half of the children available for adoption are between 11 and 17 years old, says Pierce. A need exists internationally as well, says Karlene Edgemon, M.S., L.S.W., Director of Social Services at MLJ Adoptions International. Her agency works with foreign countries where older children have been unable to find adoptive homes. \u201cGenerally, these orphans are waiting patiently for a loving home and wish desperately to become part of a family,\u201d she says. 2. An older child may be the best fit for your family Rae Hostetler, mom of 16 year-old Tom and 13 year-old Zack, always felt a \u201ctug\u201d to adopt. \u201cSome people call it the \u2018red thread\u2019 that pulls you to China,\u201d she says. While she and her husband, Bruce, initially assumed they would adopt an infant or toddler, their plans changed as wait times grew longer. \u201cAs our son Tom continued to have birthday after birthday, we started discussing the fact we didn\u2019t want our children\u2019s ages to be so far apart,\u201d she explains. In April 2008, the family traveled to China to adopt then six-year-old Zack. \u201cFrom the moment Zack walked into our house, he was part of the family.\u201d Sibling age is just one factor prospective adoptive parents should consider in the process. Edgemon notes that adopting an older child may also be a good choice for adults choosing to start a family later in life. \u201cChildren who are considered harder to place, such as older children, are more readily available to older parents who wish to adopt and the adoption process can often occur more quickly,\u201d she says. Whatever your family\u2019s specific circumstances, agencies work very hard to make good matches between parents and children, says Pierce. 3. Older kids offer unique advantages Not everyone is prepared to care for a newborn. For some, the thought of being responsible for the daily care of a baby can be overwhelming. Feedings, diapers and disrupted sleep schedules may not work for everyone. Adopting an older child has its plusses in this regard. Edgemon gives another benefit of adopting an older child: \u201cYou can immediately begin having fun together - laughing, joking with each other and building rapport. Diane Stiles, LCSW, Clinical Director at Adoption Support Center, adopted her then 3 year-old and 5 \u00bd year-old daughters twenty-one years ago. She believes it can be easier to share interests and discover new ones with an older child.\u00a0 \u201cOlder children\u2019s personalities are more formed,\u201d she says. \u201cYou have more of an insight into the people they are becoming.\u201d 4. You\u2019ll likely have access to helpful information As a prospective adoptive parent, you\u2019ll have many questions about the child who may come into your life. Fortunately, parents who adopt an older child generally have access to more information about their child\u2019s history, says Edgemon. \u201cDue to time \u2018in care\u2019 or \u2018in the system\u2019 more records have been accumulated and more data \u2013 medical, social, psychological, educational, behavioral \u2013 is available to the adoptive parents.\u201d In addition, unlike infants, \u201cOlder children can talk and tell you what is on their mind,\u201d says Stiles. \u201cNo guess work as to what hurts!\u201d 5. You can have a huge impact\u00a0 Many children in the foster care system are hungry for a typical family experience, says Pierce. Unfortunately, Edgemon reports, older children in care are less likely to find permanent families and may start to feel \u201cunlovable\u201d as time passes. \u201cYou can absolutely change their world by offering them the opportunity to be adopted,\u201d she says. Your adoption may even have benefits beyond your immediate family. \u201cIt is also the opportunity to make a change in the cycle of poverty and impact the next generation,\u201d says Stiles. If one or more of the listed reasons resonates with you, consider contacting an agency to learn more. Hostetler urges, \u201cIf you have the idea that adopting an older child\u00a0is right for you \u2013 do it. Every child deserves a family.\u201d Are You a Good Fit for Adopting an Older Child? Wondering what it takes to become an adoptive parent to an older child? Here you\u2019ll find some personal traits and characteristics that can make someone a strong candidate. *You\u2019re patient and understanding. *You have a solid family support system. *You have a good sense of humor. *You\u2019re flexible. *You have past parenting experience (helpful, but not required). *You know how to use smart phones, computers and other tech devices. *You will advocate for your child and seek out support when necessary. Sources: Sharon Pierce and Karlene Edgemon, M.S., L.S.W.