A recent study of Americans’ attitudes toward aging contained this little gem: Respondents thought people should stop having children by age 41, on average. While nature — at least for women — may concur with the results, that hasn’t stopped older couples from adopting when they are well into their 50s and even 60s, bucking the idea that they are too old to be parents.
Adam Pertman from the National Center on Adoption and Permanency (NCAP) and author of “Adoption Nation,” called boomers’ embrace of adoption “a trend that’s clearly happening,” although he doesn’t know of any group tracking the ages of adoptive parents. But, “without question, more of them are doing it,” he said.
“The world has changed, but our biology hasn’t,” Pertman said. “Adoption fills that gap. People marry later, women are involved in the workplace — it makes even more sense to adopt. Women live well into their 80s. They can have a child when they are 50 and still live to see their grandkids. Older parents are very often happy — actually seek out — the adoption of an older child. This serves all parties and society.”
You’re never too old to adopt or love a child, say adoptive parents who were midlifers when they welcomed new family additions. In some cases, the parents had already raised children; for others, it was jumping on the parenting train for the first time before it left the station for good.
Karen Bradley, a 50-year-old single mom in the Phoenix area, had three biological children and then adopted another three. At the time of her last adoption, she was a week shy of her 46th birthday. “From a very early age, I always knew I wanted to adopt,” she said. “I fostered kids for nine years, and after seeing children returned to homes that were less than ideal, I decided to pursue international adoption.” Her first adoption was at age 40 — Kevin, a 4-1/2-year-old boy from China. She then adopted two more times: Bryndan, a 2-1/2-year-old girl from China when she was 43 and a seven-month-old baby girl, Macyn, from Ethiopia when she was 45.
“In some ways, being an older parent is easier,” Bradley said, “because I feel like I am more patient and have realistic expectations. I understood, and accepted the fact that adopting at such a late stage in my life would mean pushing retirement out until [Macyn] graduates college,” Bradley said, adding, “[it’s a] small price to pay for the absolute joy she brings to our lives.”
Single adoptive mom Judy Wolf says that from day one, she’s told her daughter that “our story is a love story between you, me and God.” She describes herself as someone “born to be a mom.”
“I never met Mr. Right and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to be a mom and change a child’s life. So after several years of consideration, at the ripe old age of 44, I made the decision to adopt my daughter,” she said.
Her family, friends and the social worker who made the pre-placement visits questioned her choice. She heard things like “Children need both a mother and a father”; “Can you afford this?”; and “Most people your age are thinking about becoming a grandparent, how will you respond to your peers?”
“The questions were crazy and endless,” Judy said. “Although unprepared for all these questions, I handled them beautifully, because God was leading me. Nothing dissuaded me; I was eager to finally be a mom and provide love to my wonderful daughter.”
In March of 2004, Wolf was shown a photo of a two-year-old in Belarus. She looked at the photo and knew instantly. “She was my daughter,” Judy said. “I didn’t care about her medical history, or anything else the adoption agency wanted to provide me. I just wanted to know when could I go get my daughter.” Camryn Dorothy Wolf was named after family members who played a significant role in her mom’s life. Her daughter is now 10 and Judy, 53.
How is it working out, being an older parent? “Gee, am I one?” she replied.
Read more from Ann Brenoff, HuffingtonPost
December 2nd is Giving Tuesday, a global initiative to inspire people to give back to the charities and causes that they celebrate. At Spence-Chapin, we work to connect children with permanent homes, deep parental love, and a lifelong sense of security. We can help more children find homes by alleviating all financial barriers to families looking to adopt – but we cannot do this without you! Please participate in Giving Tuesday by making a contribution to the Spence-Chapin Annual Fund.