Adopting as an Older Parent

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Advice Related Pages

Adopting later in life

July 2014

My husband (45 years old) and I (46 years old) are considering open adoption and are looking to connect with other couples who are older and have adopted or are considering adoption. We're hoping to meet or talk with folks who are willing to share their experiences of being older parents of an infant & beyond. We live in the East Bay.

My husband and I adopted an infant when I was 48. Our son is now 13. I also have two bio kids from a previous marriage, so I have something to compare it to. Being an older mom meant I had less energy. It was harder to get up at night with the baby. By the toddler years I was going through menopause. Fun!!

But these disadvantages were balanced out by a number of advantages. My husband does as much or more parenting than I do, so parenting has never been overwhelming for either of us. Being older parents, we were further along in our careers, so we could afford to have a nanny, afford fun stress-relieving vacations, and when our son started kindergarten we had a lot of school options. Both of us have a lot of flexibility in terms of work schedules and taking time off because our careers are established, so I didn't have to make the hard choices I had when I was 30 with a baby and a career that hadn't taken off yet.

By the time we were in our 40's, we knew what we wanted and we knew what our priorities were. We didn't get hung up on all the trivial first-time parent stuff that consumes tons of worrying and unnecessary stress. Another plus is that by the time our son started preschool, I was well in to my 50's and had already been exposed to practically every virus out there, so I wasn't laid low every time a new cold came home from school.

As for being older than all the other parents at school and preschool, this has been a non-issue. Other parents generally don't notice it, or if they do, the difference in ages doesn't matter because we are all focussed on our kids, who *are* the same age. If anything, I think it is the very young parents who have the toughest time assimilating into the school parent community. Older parents have decades of experience socializing with all different age groups, while a mom in her 20's is new to all this.

All in all, adopting later in life has turned out fine, and I recommend it. Our son is in middle school now, I work at home more than I go into the office so I'm home when he is, and we have a lot of fun together. I can't imagine not having kids in the house! local mom

It is very normal in the world of adoption, for adoptive parents to be older. It is really rare that people adopt before 40s. My baby arrived when I was 46. I am definitely one of the older parents in his elementary school environment, but not the oldest, esp in this area. There are dads in their 60s for sure. As the previous post said, there are many advantages (social/emotional, financial, logistical) to being older in addition to having had some experience. I never feel ''too old'' to parent, though sometimes I am too tired to run around with an energetic kid after a long day of work. But I think anyone would be. It's so worth it at any age.

We have 2 teens - are we way too old to adopt a third?

Feb 2005

Maybe I'm insane. We have two girls -- one 15 and one 13. I'm 45 and my husband is 46. I keep wishing we'd had a third child (we tried without success). Are we just way too old to try to adopt? Would the addition of a baby throw our lives into chaos? Would that be bad? Has anyone done this? just wondering

Re: considering adopting a third child: I am an adoption professional for an agency in Oakland and want to share that you are definitely not too old to consider adopting. Most certainly, your family as you know it will go through an initial upheaval of some kind. There are many important factors to consider: are both you and your husband/partner equally commiteed to the idea, what do your two children think/feel, do you have a good support system in place, are you stable financially, emotionally, and otherwise. You don't mention what kind of a child you are thinking of adopting: if you are considering an infant, then you will be raising that child almost as an only child due to the large gap between it and your current teens. If you are considering an older child, then you will definitely have adjustments to make and will likely have a child with special needs-emotional, educational, abuse history related that require extra attention and understanding from everyone in your family. Any type of adoption is a process and takes quite a bit of time, so I'd advise you and your partner to begin talking these areas out. Best of luck! Melanie
I know a woman, who, through wide age gaps, ended up parenting from birth to age 18, for 32 years. She was tired and falling apart at the end. She had been ready to finish her parental obligations when the youngest was 12 or 13, and it was quite difficult to trudge through it - she ended up far more permissive (or resigned) with the youngest's behavior because she simply didn't have the energy to fight or enforce rules. Children suck the life outta you. To add... 18 is ! not a magical age where kids stop having needs. Quite the contrary, and she still has an older one she really wants out of the nest - but that one can't manage to get a job. I know many will disagree with me, but I think it is a little unfair to the potential 3rd child to begin their life in the parent's waning years. There simply isn't the same energy, in many cases, to keep up with them. It is usually embarrassing for children, as they progress, to have parents that are ''grandma age'' as well. That said, there is the beautiful other side of it, where you are wiser, with more experience, more secure in who you are, and hopefully more relaxed as well. Seems there is a larger push in the 20s and 30s to make a name for oneself professionally, whereas in the 40s and 50s, one has reached a nice comfortable point in the career. So there would likely be less financial stress, and perhaps more focus available for childrearing.

If it is just wanting another person... there are many non-babies who get ignored in the system and never adopted, because everyone wants a cute baby. Perhaps you would adopt an older child, who is still younger than your current kids, thus extending your parenting years. If you get a child a good 6 or more years younger than your two, they will be doted on and the older siblings will likely enjoy their roles.

If you really have baby fever (which is understandable, so many women have it), why not become the neighborhood mom-helper? I'm sure there are plenty of parents nearby who would love to let you coo over their little one while they get a well-needed break. Could be as little as a couple hours here and there, or for a weekend getaway for mom and dad. Could be on your terms, never more than you can handle. You can continue this role, picking and choosing the families/children's ages, for years on end. Then, (hopefully) many years from now, when you feeled tapped out energy-wise, you don't have a whole other child you're obligated to full-time. Good luck with your choice.

In general, the adoption world prefers that the difference in age between the child and the parent is no bigger than 50 years. So you are all right on that aspect. I'll let others answer the rest. good luck
I can't answer your questions about the affect on your family of having a third child, but I can tell you that when my husband and I adopted our first (and only) child, we were (respectively) ages 43 and 46. And the birthmother chose us happily. In independent, open adoption of an infant, the birthmother usually chooses the adoptive parents. And birthmothers have all sorts of reasons for the choices they make--they're not all looking for the same type of family. As far as having a baby at our age (now I'm 50, with a 4 year old)--well, I find parenthood wonderful and frustrating, exhilarating and tiring. If we hadn't become parents at our age, we'd probably be travelling more and planning an earlier retirement--but we'd be missing out on things that are much more important to us. It's absolutely worth it to me, but anyone making the decision need! s to think about what they're giving up, too, so they don't regret it later. (That's true of anyone planning to be a parent, but remember the pattern of your life is going to be different from the patterns of many other people your age--how much does that matter to you? If you stay around here, you'll definitely come into contact with plenty of other ''older'' parents of young children, too.) Good luck in your decisionmaking! Happy about my choice
I can't speak to the issue of what effect it will have on your family to adopt a third child, but I can tell you that we have a number of friends who have adopted infants at the age of 50. I have also recently been to an adoption orientation with Adoption Connection when we were considering adopting again (I am 48) and they said that there are LOTS of people around that age who adopt and that it generally wasn't even an issue in terms of whether a birthmother would pick you or not. I realize that is not your question, but thought I'd throw that part out at least. The people we know who adopted infants at age 50 are also both generally very energetic people. So, it works for them. Best of luck whatever you decide! Older adoptive mom