Lighthouse Thoughts

Older Parent Adoption

My friend Wendy (an adoptive Mom) says “you spend your 20’s trying not to get pregnant, your 30’s trying to get pregnant and when you hit the 40’s, decide to adopt.” 

When we started looking into the adoption process some 15 years ago, the information we received from the local department of social services, specifically mentioned that families over forty years of age could not adopt infants. Thank goodness times have changed. It is now common place for couples in their forties to adopt. Most adoptive families range in age between thirty-something to their upper forties. 

In a traditional domestic adoption program, adoptive families are waiting to be matched with birthparents. This can take anywhere form 3-18 months to get matched. Most adoptive parents successfully complete an adoption in 1-2 years. Families who are more open in the criteria of the child they hope to adop have shorter waits. For example, Caucasian families open to adopting an infant that is biracial or African American may have shorter waits than those who want to adopt a child of the same race. 

There are certainly some bright spots and advantages to parenting at an older age. Canadian researcher, Dr. Elinor Ames, who has done extensive research on children adopted from Romania, concluded that younger parents experienced more stress than older parents. It should also be noted that the children in her studies who had  the most favorable outcomes were in the group who had the older parents!  Her summary concluded that they were better able to access resources. 

Advantages to older parent adoption include:

1. More life experience provides a better foundation to advocate for children’s needs. 

2. What you lack in energy you make up in smarts. 

3. More financially secure. 

4. May be more emotionally stable. 

5. More patience- you don’t sweat the little things as much. 

6. It keeps you in shape, picking up- carrying around, or chasing a toddler

7. Parenting keeps you young- you have to keep up with the latest in electronics –   texting, tweets, and more…

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