Our society conditions us to believe that after we get to a certain age, we should curl up into a ball, find a rocking chair, and plan for our downhill slide into retirement and a funeral plot. You may be wondering, am I too old to adopt a child?
You are too old to adopt a child if you are not physically or mentally capable of meeting the needs of a child. If your spouse does not support your decision, you may be too old to adopt a child, or if you do not have the energy to keep up with a small child.
Although there are several things to consider when adopting a child at a later time in your life, most of these considerations can be spun into a positive light!
Am I too Old to Adopt? 10 Things to Consider
1. Legal age restrictions to adopting a child
2. Age discrimination when trying to adopt
3. Starting or adding to the family later in life
4. Retirement consideration when adopting
5. Extended family concerns
6. One spouse doesn’t support the decision
7. Generation gap and relating to child
8. Energy level to keep up with an adopted child
9. Risk of dying before raising a child is complete
10. Longevity of adoptive parents
Below we cover all 10 considerations in detail.
Legal Age Restrictions to Adopt a Child
Most states have a desired age range for adoptive parents between the ages of 21 to 50. With that said, very few states have age-limit restrictions that legally say you are too old to adopt a child.
What matters the most is one’s ability to raise a child.
One may also wonder if a grandparent can adopt their grandchild. Or, will they be overlooked due to their age?
You will want to ask yourself some questions to determine whether you are up to the challenge of raising a child at your age.
Are you physically and mentally capable of raising a child? Do you have escalating ailments that may shortly get in the way of your good intentions?
Are you financially comfortable living on perhaps just your retirement income to include the responsibility of caring for a child who will surely be an extra expense?
Have you downsized after already raising your first family? Do you have adequate space in your home for a child who will need a room?
Is there anything on your criminal record that a background check might bring to light that may disqualify you from adopting?
Can you provide a loving, nurturing, and safe home for a child?
If you answered favorably to the above questions, then you are on the right track.
I would highly encourage you to contact your Department of Human Resources to see if the state in which you would like to adopt has specific age limitations.
One thing I would like to point out here is that even though the state in which you plan to adopt might not have a legal age cap to stop you from adopting a child, birth mothers tend to choose younger couples to place their baby with.
This does not mean, however, that an older couple would not be selected by a birth mother. This simply means that older adoptive parents tend to be on the waiting list for a longer period.
You may want to think about all of your adoption options to give yourself the best chances of achieving your adoption wish.
Since adopting a newborn or infant would be more challenging for you, l would also entertain the foster care route.
Becoming a foster care parent has some wonderful advantages. Be prepared, however, that the children in the foster care system will likely be older.
Although it is not impossible to foster a newborn or an infant, your chances of that through the foster care program are much slimmer.
Many foster care children are also available for adoption, and you have the advantage of living with them first to see if that is a route you would like to pursue.
With that said, age bias is a very real challenge. Some may consider age bias as a discouraging roadblock, while others might consider age bias as a challenge to be conquered.
Many adoptive parents have proven they are not too old to adopt a child.
“My Grandparents adopted me in their mid to late 50s. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed before my adoption was finalized. I was an infant when I was placed with them. I think he passed when I was around 5 or 6. My grandmother is still alive. She’s 82 now and I’m 28. I’m so lucky to have had them. God only knows where I’d be if they hadn’t adopted me.”
Courtesy of a Reddit user at Reddit.com
You may have heard that adopting a newborn is a time-consuming process. Learn 11 ways to make the process faster.
Age Discrimination & Trying to Adopt a Child
Age discrimination in the United States has been a challenge for a very long time.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (Wikipedia.org) is a federal law put in place that offers protection for workers 40 years of age and older from various age-related discrimination.
Yet we still have a long way to go. Our country struggles with gender bias, hiring bias, physical preference bias, and age bias to name a few.
Ageism, known as the discrimination of those in a particular age group, takes place in so many ways. I did a little research as to why we are so consumed with age.
When we think about older people, we often tend to think about our fears of death and possible disabilities as well as dependence on others. Some people shun older individuals as a way of avoiding confronting their mortality fears.
Stereotypes are when we categorize people into groups (just like ageism) and then attribute certain characteristics to these groups.
Even though we know logically that ageism is real, we tend to overlook correcting our children when they make stereotypical comments about older people.
Not helping guide our children’s viewpoints because what they say sounds so typical only contributes to a continued cycle of biased behavior and prejudicial mindsets.
While doing my research, I learned that older individuals who defy the unfortunate age bias tend to be more active, healthy, and physically and mentally agile.
My best advice here is to not let age bias affect your mindset. Believing you are more than capable of raising a child and showing that upfront confidence will do wonders.
You want to adopt, so go for it! The adoption process can be lengthy, and there are things you can do to adopt more quickly.
If you believe in yourself and have no doubts, then others will start to believe you, too. Doubt yourself, and others will follow suit.
“Perhaps the worry is that older parents are looking at it as a last resort after years of disappointment. I have seen many older parents build the concept of parenthood up on a pedestal, only to be faced with the reality of sleepless nights, inconsolable crying, and messes, and realize they miss their old established lives. Not all older parents do this, mine did not, but it does seem to be a recurring theme.”
COURTESY OF A REDDIT USER AT REDDIT.COM
Starting or Adding to Family Later in Life
Let’s face it, starting a family can be stressful. It is understandable, though, that parenting a child when we are older can have many benefits as well as other things to consider.
Am I too old to adopt a child? There are some positive things to consider.
- Financial status after retirement
- Learning From Past Mistakes
- Better developed communication skills
- Incentives to stay active and in shape
- More concerned about health as we age
- Possible more patience as we age
As we mature in life, it is often the case that we become more financially stable. Younger parents are more likely to be struggling to get ahead in their new careers, and finances can be much tighter.
Trying to feed a family on a small budget can be a challenge for so many of us. Eating healthy requires the more costly fruits and vegetables and avoiding those all-too-often processed options.
Smaller budgets have a hard time fitting in healthy foods when also trying to juggle the utilities and rent or a mortgage. Let’s face it, those unhealthy processed foods are cheaper and make the dollar stretch farther.
Yet when we are older, we are more likely able to provide more for our family. We have grown in our careers, so our compensation is probably higher.
On the other hand, maybe you are in retirement and your income has gone down a bit. Mortgages may have been paid off by then, though, so it could be a wash.
Regardless of one’s circumstances, being more financially secure does have its advantages when raising a child.
With all that being said, it is also very common for older adults to not be as prepared financially as they had hoped.
The below statistics show a sobering reality of where many Americans are at when it comes to being prepared for retirement.
Life’s Experiences and Past Mistakes
Who has not thought to themselves, if I only knew then what I know now? Life experiences make us stronger, so it makes sense that parenting in our later years would mean that we are more likely to be better parents.
We can look at our parenting decisions in our early years and realize potential mistakes or ways in which we could do better if given that opportunity again.
That alone gives older adoptive parents an advantage.
Myself, I feel like I was a better mother to my youngest child than I was with my first two children. Funny thing was, though, that my youngest was my biggest challenge!
Trina Greenfield – Founder of Helping Grow Families
More Stable Relationships
Being in a stable relationship with your partner will make you a better parent. There are no if, and, or buts about it.
If you and your partner have a good relationship, you are setting a wonderful example for the children you are raising.
Relationship skills involve verbal communication. Children who learn effective communication skills right out of the gate will more likely be able to have better relationships of their own: work relationships, friendships, romantic relationships, and the list goes on.
Learn how to make your adopted child feel welcome in their new home.
Stamina – Can you keep up?
I was curious, so I posted a question on Reddit to see what kinds of responses I would get on this age bias subject when trying to adopt a child.
My question was, Age Bias When Trying to Adopt a Child – Are You Too Old? Hat’s off to the Reddit user who put it best by saying this:
“Perhaps the worry is that older parents are looking at it as a last resort after years of disappointment.
I have seen many older parents build the concept of parenthood up on a pedestal, only to be faced with the reality of sleepless nights, inconsolable crying, and messes, and realize they miss their old established lives.
Not all older parents do this, mine did not, but it does seem to be a recurring theme.” Courtesy of Reddit.com
More Focused on Health & Well Being
We have established that getting older can have its drawbacks. Our energy levels may not be what they used to be, and we are more set in our routines than ever before in our lives.
It is also true that people are living longer. Chances are, if you have an active lifestyle, then you will have more stamina to keep up with a young child.
Hiking, biking riding, jogging, or doing just about anything other than sitting will help to elevate your energy level and keep you healthier.
The more active you are, the more you will prove you are most certainly not too old to adopt.
Do We Have More or Less Patience as We Grow Older?
It can be argued that we have less patience as we grow older. We become set in our ways and expect things to run in an orderly manner to which we have become accustomed.
Those of us who have had children know that raising a child is as unpredictable as it can be. You expect things to be a certain way, and at times our children might rebel or simply need some time to learn what we expect of them.
As we age, we get more and more set in our daily routines. We have grown into a particular mindset, and our tolerance for things we disapprove of can be cut and dry.
It is important to be mindful of this when considering adopting a child in your later years. Are you up for the challenge?
Retirement Consideration When Adopting a Child
Retirement is something that most of us look forward to. As for me, I would love to be able to travel a bit when I am retired and have more time on my hands to do so.
Even just the mere idea of doing what I want on any given day sounds wonderful! My dream would be to be sitting on a beach with my feet in the warm sand, sipping a cold umbrella drink while I peck away at my keyboard.
If you are retired or will be within the next few years, are you prepared to have a child be your sole primary focus in their formative years?
Now granted, there is nothing that says if you have a child you cannot travel or still do the things you dream of doing.
I recently binged-watched a real estate show that featured couples and individuals purchasing new or second homes in the Caribbean.
Several of these buyers had underage children who participated in homeschool or online academic programs.
“My mom adopted me from China when she was over forty-five (49 to be exact) from China when I was 2! Never had a problem with it- she’s the best parent I could ask for. Single parent and went across the world twice to get me and my older sister (not genetically related). The worse thing that happens is sometimes people think she’s my grandma.”
Courtesy of a Reddit User at Reddit.com
Extended Family Concerns of Adopting a Child
When we are initially considering adoption, it is possible to overlook how our extended family might react to a decision to adopt a child in our later years.
Extended families may have a multitude of concerns regardless of their age. Perhaps they are concerned about you adopting a child that is not part of the family bloodline.
It could be that they worry about behavior issues you could be faced with when adopting an older child who has been traumatized by things in the past.
Those are a couple of common concerns one’s extended family may have.
What happens to the beloved child if you should pass on an age-related illness? More than likely, your child would be placed with an extended family.
The older you are when you adopt a child, the more likely your extended family will find this concerning. Are they prepared to support you in your decision and be there should something happen to you?
Of course, we do not necessarily need our extended family’s approval when adopting a child, but I think we can all agree that knowing our extended family is happy for us and supports our decision to adopt matters to us.
One Spouse Doesn’t Support Child Adoption
There are so many reasons why a spouse might not be on board with your adoption idea, and being older brings up a whole new set of concerns.
Many or most states require that your spouse or significant other that you live with be a part of and consent to the adoption process. But what if your partner has reservations about your desire to adopt a child in your later years?
If one spouse had their hopes and dreams for retirement to mean sipping Mai Tai’s on a secluded, peaceful beach while you instead wish to raise a child, that could put a damper on your relationship.
Communicate with your partner by first listening and validating their feelings. It is important that they feel heard and understood.
After you have both expressed your points of view, maybe take a break from the subject and reconnect after you have both given it more in-depth thought.
“As a birth parent, the age(s) of the potential family I was choosing for my child weren’t even on my radar. I don’t know how old his parents are now. Potentially, if I had seen a profile, and the couple had looked substantially older (like, unhealthy grandparents) that may have been a deterrent. We all have our different preferences for the family we want our child to have so some may prefer younger, but you get all types from all roads of life in potential birth parents.”
Courtesy of a Reddit User at Reddit.com
Generation Gap & Relating to Adopted Child
When I was 50 years of age, my youngest child was 15-years-old. Today, I am 53 and she is now 18. When she told me of her recent plans to get a tattoo on her arm, I thought I was going to explode out of my skin!
And guess what? She’s 18-years-old, and I can’t do anything about it. I recall saying to her, “Are you at least going to get the tattoo under your arm so future employers, etc., do not see it?” Her response was, “No mom, I want people to see it.”
Being several generations older than your child can be a challenge, to say the least. I am more old-school and would never even think of getting a tattoo that everyone could see. Ladies just do not do that, was my upbringing.
Then there was the day my daughter told me she was getting her nose pierced. Where did I go wrong, I thought!
The reality is, that the times are changing and the things that were not socially acceptable when I was growing up are now becoming more acceptable.
Yet when we are raised in a certain way, it can be difficult to relate to our children who are several decades younger than ourselves.
Energy Level to Keep Up with Your Adopted Child
It is true, we do slow down as we age. Do you have the energy to keep up with an infant who wakes up often in the middle of the night?
If you have already raised a child and are wanting to do it all over again, do you remember those days of running on little to no sleep?
If you are now retired, then lack of sleep might not be as big a concern as when you perhaps had to be to work the next day.
Yet as we age, we require more rest. Although there is no getting around the fact that we do slow down as we age, we can help counter that reality by staying active.
Getting routine exercise alone helps our energy level. When we are more fit, our bodies are stronger and more resilient to the little challenges that can be tossed our way.
My foster mother was in her mid 60’s when I went to live with her. She was very active and took me fishing all the time. Our quality of time spent together mattered much more to me than her longevity.
Trina Greenfield – Founder of Helping Grow Families
Risk of Dying Before Raising Adopted Child
What will happen to your adopted child if you sadly pass away before they turn 18 years of age? Having a backup plan and a good communication line with your extended family will help you cover all your bases if that should happen.
One would also want to consider what a child goes through when losing a parent. Losing a loved one can be devastating, especially to a child who counted on you to be there to raise them.
Life happens, and we never know when our time will come. We can control, however, taking good care of ourselves to ensure we are around as long as possible for our children.
Longevity of Adoptive Parents
When considering adopting at an older age, one thing that can be found encouraging is that we are living longer. Medical science has contributed to our longevity, as well as our better food choices.
Eating healthy and staying active can significantly cut down on our risks of many avoidable health ailments such as heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and the list goes on.
Exercising alone helps make our heart strong and cardiovascular system stronger.
Routine medical exams to address any possible health concerns your doctor may have will help you stay on top of your overall health and well-being.
If you still feel that you are ready for the challenge of adopting a child in your later years, then, by all means, go for it!
Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t adopt at your age if you truly know you have given your decision thorough thought and know you have the odds in your favor.
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.