Adoptive parents who are older

As an older adoptive parent to two young children (ages 10 and 7), I’m always interested to see how other people handle the situation. Notice I didn’t write “challenge,” because for many folks, older parenting doesn’t present any more challenges than parenting when younger. In fact, couldn’t one say that parenting at any age challenges some more than others? The struggles remain constant regardless of age.

Parenting a child requires love and energy, of course, but it also requires dedication, and a single-minded drive to go the distance. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. More important than chronological age is level of commitment.

In this article on Huffington Post, Too Old To Adopt? Not The Case For These Parents, Ann Brenoff profiles several women and men who adopted as older parents, and whose children seem to be growing and thriving and doing just fine.

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.

***

Lori McCoy’s adoption story had a more painful beginning: She lost her seven-month-old son to a form of muscular dystrophy. Her recovery from the death of her son took years. McCoy, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area (and blogs for The Huffington Post), was 47 when she and her husband adopted Chanti, a 3-1/2-year-old girl from Cambodia. That was 10 years ago.

At 57, Lori finds she’s not the only older mom in her daughter’s class. “I know many who are my age or darn near close to it. Honestly, my age isn’t even a factor in our lives.

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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.”

 

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4 Responses to “Adoptive parents who are older”

  1. Marie says:

    I became a first time mom at age 45. Am I as energetic or spry as I was in my 20′s? No. But I have much more patience and wisdom. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I am not competitive with my kids…I don’t care if they are the fastest, smartest, or best, as long as they are trying. I don’t have the need to fill every hour with something for them to do…I’m not running from event to class to practice like some of the younger moms I’ve seen.

    Are my kids loved unconditionally? Held and hugged and snuggled and read to (even though they can read on their own now)? YES! Do we laugh and play together? Yes.

    Would I change a thing? Nope.

  2. Jessica says:

    Beautiful, Marie! Amen.

  3. Cristine says:

    Jessica, thanks for your post. I keep googling “older adoptive parents” to read insights into people’s experiences with the whole process of adopting as a mid-lifer. Well, my husband and I are 56 and 58 and we just finished our home study on 9/12. Our home state of Ohio does not have the many available children we are looking for so I signed up with AdoptUSkids and inquired about several Latin sibling groups. Of course the wait is like watching “paint dry” and we fear it may take months if not years to be “matched”. It is specially painful at our age because timing is important for older parents. I read a horrendous indictment on why anyone over fifty should not adopt younger children written by a social worker. It really disappointed me. I am not ready for teens out of the gate as an adoptive parent. We don’t want a baby, we are hoping for a sibling group with kids from 4 to 14 years old. Our private agency don’t seem to proactive and the foster to adopt agencies want us to redo our home study and training which we find absurd! Do you have any advice on how older adoptive parents can be matched with “waiting children” in the US?
    Thanks Jessica, I really appreciate your blog and insight!

  4. Jessica says:

    Thanks for reading, Cristine. Congratulations on your decision to adopt! Waiting is indeed hard and I’m sorry you have to go through it. I checked out the Dave Thomas Foundation site, which lists a few other links to organizations besides AdoptUSkids: Adopt America; the Adoption Exchange Network; and Children Awaiting Families. Scroll down to “Where do I begin searching for waiting children?” under FAQ:

    http://www.davethomasfoundation.org/about-foster-care-adoption/faqs/

    As I wrote in my blog post, to me, what’s more important than chronological age of a parent is the parent’s level of commitment. Children who have lost their biological parents for any reason–whether through voluntary relinquishment or placement in foster care–have experienced trauma. And the longer that child has been without parents, the deeper that trauma may be. That’s why agencies often require potential adoptive parents go through training classes: so that the parents enter into adoption with their eyes open and their expectations realistic. To quote from my post again: “Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.” Our children need us to be in it for the long haul, and I don’t mean “number of years,” but steadfastness in parenting.

    I wish I had more insight into the subject of foster-adopt, but I don’t.

    Thanks again for reading.

    Sending positive thoughts,
    Jessica

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