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In her answer to last week’s Tuesday Topic, Nancy, writer of Ordinary Miracles and the Crazy 8 asked a great question that seemed to flow right into a new topic.  This is what she said:

My only hesitation on waiting to adopt again is that I’m getting old! I’ll be 42 soon, and although that’s not ancient, I realize that the day will come when it just isn’t fair to a child to be adopted by senior parents. I’d love to have a discussion (from both those who have adopted and those who haven’t) about when is too old to adopt/what age child! I wrestle with this everyday and hope this factor doesn’t make me jump into adoption prematurely.

What do you think? What is too old? How about for adopting waiting children? What about babies?

Leave your answer as a comment and I will share it next Tuesday, February 23rd.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

~Lisa



  1. Marie (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Ah, this one strikes close to home. My husband and I are waiting for a match in a domestic infant adoption. I am 47 and my husband is 50. We have no children so far. I confess to feeling a bit of a twinge when Nancy said in her comment that 42 was getting old and that she has concerns of fairness when infants are adopted by "senior parents".

    First of all, "senior" is currently defined as 65 or older. That leaves some good time!

    I honestly never would have expected twenty years ago, to be wanting to be a new mom in my late forties. But, there were MANY things I couldn't imagine twenty years ago! As it is, circumstance and fertility issues have lead us down this path. Friends and family assure us that we are "young" for our ages and don't look particularly "old". And inside we absolutely don't feel middle-aged.

    But the question of fairness is interesting to me. We certainly won't be as agile as many younger parents. We have a few streaks of gray and a few creaky joints. We have many laugh lines and lots of the chips sanded off our shoulders. We are much more comfortable and stable in who we are, more patient and connected with ourselves and others and much more able to see all of the lovely shades of gray than we were in the old days when everything was either black or white.

    We certainly know parents in every age bracket who are not able to give their children enough time, patience, stability, guidance, nurture, attention, etc. And fairness doesn't seem to be factored in. What it really comes down to for us is knowing that we are ready to be parents, willing to be engaged and challenged, able to make room in our lives and focus our attention, time and our full selves on loving our children. That set of descriptors does not come with age limits.

    Many countries have particular criteria for the age gap between potential parents and children. To us, many of those limits seemed ridiculous. Thankfully, it is illegal to discriminate in the United States.

  2. Robin (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Ha, had to laugh. I'm 46 with an almost 3 year old, an almost 4 year old, a 7 year old who I'm homeschooling and a 10 year old bio son. My DH is 50 with three grown children in their 20s with children of their own. Our family is kind of confusing to the outsider. Is it hard being a mom to preschoolers in your mid-40s? Absolutely! Much harder than I thought, yet I wouldn't trade it for the world. I do think of how old I'll be when they are old enough to go to college, but then am jolted back to what their life would have been like if adoption was not an option for them. Not to mention the absolute joy (ok..most of the time) they have brought to our lives.

  3. Tracey (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    We just adopted our first child a year ago and I will be 42 in February. My mom had me when she was 45. I've always looked at that as my cut off!

  4. Amy (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I know for biologically children after 40 brings a higher risk of complications for both the mother and the baby. It seems risky to still be bearing children as that benchmark passes by…but for adoption, I think there are so many orphans whose options are 1. live in the orphanage until they become of age to try and get employment and depending on country may or may not be a reality for them, 2. are completely forsaken, 3. are raised in foster care (which can be terrible or great), 4. find a forever family. I think the forever family with as many issues as they bring to the table – whether that is age, a large family, special needs family members, one parent households, etc. is the best option. So to make my looong post short – I think you have to be pretty old before adoption is worse then not.

  5. bonnie (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I'm 41 and we are just bringing home 2 kids ages 7 and 8. I personally wouldn't want a baby at this point in my life – not that babies aren't great, they are. Our new kids are the 7th and 8th kids – our youngest is 3 and oldest at home is 16 so they fit right into the mix. While I was in ET getting our daughter last month I met a couple adopting 2 baby girls – and they were 50 and 60 – which honestly I think is a bit too old for a baby – to be 70 and 80 when the girls are 20 … I don't know.

    For waiting kids – well I think that so long as it is a good fit then why not. I know there are tons of waiting teens – both in countries like ET and in the US foster system – so if someone were in thier early 60's and felt up to the challenge of parenting teens for a few more years then absolutely.

  6. Nancy (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I'll jot down my thoughts even though I obviously don't have the answer to how old is to old.

    Since I don't have the answer, I use other folks to answer the question than me. Most of the time I would like to think I know all the answers. But not on this one. So I consult here-
    My husband—When does he think is too old for us? Does he feel too old already? An adoption deal breaker if he says yes.
    The country I'm adopting from—I use this as a guide, which generalizing is about 45 years older than the child. Maybe trying to push these these guidelines by adopting special need's kiddos or children other younger families would certainly adopt, is not worth pushing.
    God—Prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. Lots of prayer that the Lord will speak to my husband and give him guidance as to the timing. And a clear message from Him to both of us, that the timing of an adoption is His plan for us, and not our own. And I'm a firm believer that if I can't hear God answering my questions, it's most likely that I'm asking the wrong question. Maybe the question shouldn't be, am I too old to adopt, but rather I should be asking Him to show me how to better parent the children I already have.

    I'll end this by saying that I think there are probably very few circumstances where any parents would be too old for certain special needs children, like older children or those with moderate-severe disabilities. I often think about hypothetically asking the special need's child growing up in the orphanage what would be too old for parents. I pretty certain he would say that he'd choose a forever family of any age over being an orphan forever.

    Nancy-Ordinary Miracles and the Crazy 8

  7. ana f. (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I was 42 when we started our adoption process, and 43 when we brought our son home from Russia. (He was almost 11 months old.) My husband was 46. We were told the unofficial guideline for many countries, Russia included, is no more than 45 years difference between the mother and the child. So, if you are older than 45, you would be adopting an older child. That seemed reasonable to us.

    A week before we went to Russia to bring our son home, I found out I was pregnant. Quite a surprise at the age of 43. So now, at age 45, I have a 2 1/2 year old son and a 14 month old daughter. They keep me quite busy and bring me so much joy! I don't think much about being an older mom. Sometimes it is strange when I talk to women in their 40's/50's who have grandchildren the same age as my kids, but it doesn't bother me. God's plan for me is unique and right for me, and I trust Him.

    My husband and I wish we could adopt again, but it is finances, not our ages, holding us back. If the finances fell into place, we would definitely do it again!

  8. Robyn (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    This is a trick question! :) I don't think there are any absolute answers (unless you are talking about agency or country guidelines). When working with families, I like to consider the likelihood that the parents will be able to raise the children to adulthood. Therefore- it might not be appropriate for someone age 65 to adopt an infant- but then again, what about the 65 year old grandparent who has raised the child since birth? I think 42 is still pretty far from when she needs to worry about being too old!

  9. Lori Schneider (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I suppose this question will have similar answers to the last question. By that I mean lots of prayer and seeking the Lord's will – and it will be very individual, I don't think there is a pat answer for this.

    I have changed my view on this very subject in the past few years. There is this notion in the U.S. that we have children and work until we reach a certain age – maybe 55 or 60 and then we retire and think about ourselves. :-) I had pretty much bought into this thinking. However, when our son died in 2006 (our second child, fourteen years old) we suddenly looked at our life and how soon our parenting days (our oldest and only other child was almost seventeen) would be over. We were 43 at the time.

    We realized that we had a lot more love and energy to put into parenting and that there are a lot of kids out there needing parents so we started praying about adopting older siblings. We aren't crazy – we didn't want babies! :-) Adopting was the best decision we could have made. Now, at age 46 we are in the middle of another adoption of a five year old. Since I have one friend who is my age and has a two year old and another friend who is 49 with a two year old, I figure I don't have anything to worry about!

    And don't they say that 50 is the new 30? :-) I think you don't pay too much attention to biological age. You pray about it, you listen to your heart and the Holy Spirit, and you make sure that you are healthy and up to it. There are probably family dynamics to consider as well. You AND your husband should be of one mind as well.

    Lori

  10. laurad (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Hmm. I am almost 41 ( a few days away). We adopted boys ages 5, 5, 4 all from the same orphanage, all at one time. Triplets it seems like! :o) We wanted older boys because I did not want to ancient when they were getting married and have grandchildren. We also wanted older boys because we knew by the time they reached 6, they'd head off to an orphanage that would make them ineligible for adoption.

    I am not sure there is a magical age. I believe it depends on the circumstances, the age of the child, etc. But let's face it, God does not give us a time, date, place of our death. I could die tomorrow…today.

    What are the costs to the child/ren for NOT adopting because you think you are too old?

    I believe that if we pray and ask God what He would have us do, He'll tell us. He'll lead us. The decision is really His, isn't it?

  11. Sharry (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    We adopted 2 beauties almost 2 years ago. They were then 2 & 8. I was 46 and my hubby 49. We have 4 other bio.s from age 25-17(now). I say listen to God and your heart. I feel that the time we have with them is super important to show them our Lord in every way possible. The little one has made us laugh so much the past 2 years that I think we will be around for a long time.

  12. Paula (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I have asked myself this same question… I turned 46 in June right after we came home with our new five year old twins from Ethiopia. It was a hard adjustment, and I wonder if I would have been less tired 15 years ago? Or even 10 years ago, when my next to youngest child was a five year old. Maybe. But as an "older" mom, I have a lot more patience and I fret a lot less about the little things that used to stress me out. Now I only get stressed out about the big things. :) And there are lots with an international adoption! But God knew, and these girls were perfect for our family. I think the twins will keep my husband and me young, and the big siblings love having little ones to play with. I don't think I'm too old… yet. But I myself would stick to preschoolers. I wouldn't want to do diapers again.

  13. Jennifer (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I wonder, too. I am 45 and we have just brought our 9th child into placement which will probably result in an adoption. She was placed with her two brothers who are 2 yrs and 1 yr. The baby is 3 months. My oldest is 20. So am I too old? Good question. I was so relieved to meet someone on the beach last year who had her last child at 45. All I can say is that God clearly picked this life for us. We are in it for the long haul and cannot imagine living life any other way. To fight against God's will would be more difficult than the hard days that inevitably come with parenthood. So we won't have those twilight years alone. That's okay. It really is.

  14. Laurel (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Yesterday, I wrote a long comment … but think it disappeared while trying to post it. So, I'll try to recapture a few of those thoughts today …

    First of all, I am sad that this woman feels "old" at "almost 42". Unless she has some serious medical issues, I would hope/expect that she would have many good years for mothering left.

    When I was 36, I began to feel the societal pressure that "I'm too old to have more children". Then, I met two women who were 46. Both of those new friends were pregnant; one with her 6th child, and the other with her 10th child. I no longer felt old, and was excited to continue to expand our family. I went on to have 2 more bio. children (#9 and #10 for me) … the 10th being born the day before I turned 40.

    A few years later, we added 3 through adoption. Now, at 48, I would love to get pregnant again. The Lord hasn't allowed that. But … I would be excited.

    My dear Daddy didn't get married until he was 40. Then, he had 3 children. He never thought he would live long enough to have grandchildren. Now … at 91 … his life is blessed with 15 grandchildren, and I expect that he'll live to meet a few great-grandchildren, as well. As the daughter of a "senior", I am so thankful that my Daddy never thought he was "too old" to have kids. I NEVER wished that my Daddy was younger. Never. Even though my friends thought I was hanging out with my grandpa … it didn't matter to me. So what that he had grey hair before I was in kindergarten? Didn't matter.

    I have to ask, why does this mom think it wouldn't be "fair" to her children if she was a "senior". Many seniors have more time and more money to devote to their children. I had a baby when I was 22. I had another baby when I was 40. Each of those babies … and the 8 babies in between … got ALL of the love that I could possibly give. Neither of them has had a "better" life than the other … because I was "too young" or because I was "too old".

    There are many children in this world that need parents. They really won't care if you are a "senior" or a "young mommy". Really. All they want is a mommy to call their own … whether that mommy is 21 … or 51. Whether that mommy has long blonde hair or short grey hair. Whether that mommy wears size 5 "cool" jeans or size 20 denim skirts. They just want to call you "Mommy".

    • Laurel (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

      I wrote a whole blog post about this topic … after writing this comment. Hope you'll pop on over to my blog to check it out.

  15. Martha (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Hi Lisa,
    I'm an AAI parent and lurker on your blog. I thought about this question as I entered my adoption journey. I am a single mom, and had recently turned 46 when I put in my paperwork, and was 48 when picked up my daughter (then 6). I wanted a girl about 6 years old. I did not feel that it was responsible of me to adopt younger and felt beyond wanting to work through baby and toddler stuff. I had face the fact that I was older, that I could have health issues as anyone can, and that I wanted to see my child securely into adulthood. If I were to adopt again, I would go up in age for those same reasons.

    IMO, very early 40s should be limit for getting a healthy baby. For older healthy kids (about 6 or so and up), think that the parent age limit can be more flexible because the kids are harder to place. For kids with medical issues or that may need long-term parental support, I am not quite certain. Older parents might be willing to adopt and could provide a good home, but they might not be around as long.

  16. Paula (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Oh, I just wanted to add to my comment… my husband was born when his father was 40. So his parents were "older" parents and he grew up great!

  17. Carly Debevec (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Hi Lisa! I will try to make this short… A year and a quarter ago, I was Jacob- wrestling with GOD. After twelve pregnancies, eight living children, two adopted children (one with FAS) and 48 years under my belt, my husband was being led to adopt another sib group. I had said, "NO!" no, no, no, no! "In fact, I am so "NO!" about this, I am not even going to pray about it." How's that for stupid? Now, when we have a relationship with the Living GOD, He really doesn't let us get away with that, does HE??!! WHAT WAS I THINKING???!!!

  18. Carly Debevec (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    "LORD, I am almost 50 years old- what business do I have adopting more children??? HIS answer: "Got that covered! I gave Georgia 2 babies under 2 for her sixtieth birthday, remember?" (Georgia is a dear friend and Sister in the Lord) Okay, how about this one, "LORD, my health hasn't been all that great, remember, I have this blood disorder, and a bad leg???" Answer: "When you follow Me, in obedience, it is MY JOB to work out the details. I will take care of those babies just the same way I WILL care for those you already have." "What if something happens to Dave???" "I take care of you at ALL TIMES. I love you each more than you could ever love each other. Trust ME." Yes, LORD, I will follow where You lead me. HE even showed me the Blessing: Peace in Obedience, Joy in the Journey, and more little Debevec 's in the end.

  19. Carly Debevec (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    We found out two weeks later, the county had a YOUNG sibling group in mind for our family, 3 girls, 2 1/2, 1 1/2, and 6 mos.! In GOD'S timing, we brought them home a year later. They are delightful! I am not doing this alone, the kids at home are wonderful helpers and I am confident the girls will heal and become more comfortable as time goes on- they have been in our home only 2 1/2 months.

  20. Carly Debevec (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    For the very longest week of my life, I literally wrestled with GOD over this situation. EVERY argument I threw out, GOD responded in a way that brought me to my knees… He reminded me of a question I asked of him years ago as a tired mommy of so many little ones-"LORD, am I ever NOT going to have a baby in this house???" HIS answer, "If My answer is, 'No', will you still trust Me?" Again, as so many years ago, I was humbled beyond measure. But, I didn't stop there, I figured I was going to wrestle this out like Jacob-until I received the Blessing…

  21. dawn (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I am 40 and have been thinking a lot about this as well. I think the conclusion I've reached is that maybe it's not "fair" for me to adopt an infant or possibly even a toddler at the age I'm at. Not fair to the child that is. BUT, on the other hand, there are many, many older children needing families and maybe THAT'S where I need to focus. :) Just a thought.

    • Laurel (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

      WHY isn't it fair to the child? WHY??? I just don't understand …

      Will the child really care if you have grey hair …. aren't quite as athletic … don't wear "cool" clothes ??? NO!!!

  22. GB's Mom (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I am 52 years old and had thought my adoption days were done. My next to the last youngest started college in September. God had a different plan. We now have legal custody(too old to do foster care) of a beautiful 6 year old girl, who has Bipolar, FASD, and RAD, and are working very hard to change that to adoption. I still think we are too old, but I don't argue with God.

  23. Ajay (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Too old? I'm a Mom under 30 with soon to be 3 kids (1 bio 2 adopted) and somedays I think I would like to trade in some of my youth for some more wisdom that comes with age and experience in parenting. Too old? If you feel like God's giving you a baby, but you feel "too old", don't laugh at the thought of it,…remember what happened to Zechariah? (Luke1) =0) Don't miss out on the blessings God has for you out of fear. God knows what's best for these little ones…and maybe it's you!

  24. Nancy (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Wow! And my goodness! Seems my question struck both a nerve and a chord.
    I am so so so thankful for the insight that women can provide one another. Thank you for making me think ladies. Thank you for making me think in ways that I wouldn't of or maybe couldn't of.
    I guess I'm not feeling as hesitant after reading your responses. Earlier today, I had 3 conversations with different adoption agencies regarding special need's programs. Thank you all for your wisdom!
    Nancy

    • OneThankfulmom (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

      Nancy, I'm so glad this conversation has been helpful. I loved reading the answers as they came in.

  25. angela (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Smiling here. We are in the process of adopting 6 year old twins… We are not too old -40 and 43, but the foster parents where the twins are living have an adopted 16 yr old, 14 yr. old and 13 year old…. they decided they finally reached the too old mark and cannot adopt the twins or the 2 yr old foster child. They are ……68 and 76!! I am ever grateful for what they have given the twins in the year that they have cared for them. May God bless them for not worrying about their age before now.

  26. Maria (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I live in another part of the world (Sweden) and as I read the comments I realize a discussion on this topic i Sweden would render quite different comments. The authorities here are working on a 42 year age limit for adoption as a rule of thumb irregardless of the child's age. (Fostering is another story …)

    It is not an easy issue. Someone mentioned health issues but no one mentioned death. After all, there's a greater risk that we leave our children motherless/fatherless before they are grown-up the older we are when we become parents. That's a reality for all children of course, but it can be particularly tough for an adopted child after all their separations. It would also have been so interesting to hear adoptees give their views on the subject! It is important to not be self-centred here … at the same time as I realize that a long experience with a large family really would benefit young, troubled ones!

    I think my own personal limit is no infants to parents slightly over 40. Special needs, siblings, older children – another story …

    Maria in Sweden
    44 years old
    3 wonderful kids by adoption: 8 years, 7 years, 5 years

    • OneThankfulmom (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

      Maria, thank you for your insight into another country's practices. You are right, it would be great to get the perspective of some adoptees.

  27. courtney (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Great post!

  28. Cindy (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I don't know? Why don't we ask Sarah and Abraham ??? Some how I think that God doesn't think like us and I'm sure glad He doesn't , aren't you?? :)

  29. Kim (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Hi Lisa, I thought I'd weigh in on this one, as I was 46 when we brought home our 5.5 month old son in May. I have to honestly say I struggled with the fairness of being older and adopting an infant, but that's what my husband and I felt called to do, and we have just begun the paper chase for our second adoption. I agree with several of the comments above, adoption for us has also been a complete faith walk. I also believe if mothering is your gift, you should be using it to the fullest. There are so many children who need moms to love and nurture them and I believe that's what God has asked me to do. Life has so many different twists and turns, and I trust that God knows every turn in the road, and He has my family in his hands. Our son has added a dimension to our family that I wish I could describe. I have four biological children 23, and 17 yr triplets that are about to graduate from high school, and now our precious one year old. He is a blessing to everyone who knows him and is the most loved and cherished son and little brother on the planet! Respectfully, I know being 47 and walking around Babies R Us buying baby supplies and changing diapers while applying anti wrinkle cream is not the norm for most women, but it's mine and I thank God for the opportunity.

    • OneThankfulmom (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

      Kim, I share your love of babies and having little ones around. I'll admit that I am jealous! We adore our Little Man and I told Russ just the other day how thankful I am that the Lord gave me one more baby. He has been such a joy.

  30. daniela (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    I'm a lurker, but I LOVE your blog! Especially Tuesday Topics! :) I just wanted to say that reading all these replies give me hope. One day I would I would love to have at least one more child, but at my age (38) I just never thought it would be right or even possible. I was worried about being the oldest mom at the school on the first day of kindergarten, but just reading these responses has given me to the courage to have a baby even if I'm 40 or 41, it really isn't as old as I thought it was. :)

  31. OneThankfulmom (Reply) on Wednesday 17, 2010

    Daniela, thank you for commenting. I'm so glad you are encouraged! You have lots of good years of mothering left…38 sounds young to me :-)