A lot of parents come to us with empty nest syndrome. They have grown children, but they want a baby in their lives again.
We often see people having an adverse reaction to these kinds of adoptive parents. They say, “Wow, they have four children already. Since they can have children of their own they don’t need to adopt.”
Adoption expert and psychologist Marlou Russell says that as long as your heart is in the right place, adopting a baby when you have adult children is perfectly okay. You have to look at why you are adopting, and who you are adopting for. Make sure your yearning to adopt is stemming from the right place.
There is no right or wrong stage of your life to adopt. If you are lonely and want a baby, see if volunteering at a NICU fills that need for you. If you really feel like you are not done parenting, you have adequate energy, and you feel like a child will fit well into your current family, adoption may be a wonderful option for you.
We have seen both sides of adopting a child when you have adult children. We have seen an older family adopt a child after their adult children were grown and be unable to handle the terrible two’s so the nanny took over. That was really sad for us to see when the couple wanted the child so badly but then were unable to parent because they were so tired. But, we have also seen couples adopt a baby after their children are grown who had plenty of energy to parent the child and loved the experience.
A big part of being a successful adoptive parent when you have adult children is having the right expectations. If your main desire in the world is to parent, you will probably have a lot more energy and excitement about being a parent again than someone who is unexpectedly raising a grandchild.
There still is some prejudice towards older parents with both adoption agencies and birth parents. Parents with adult children who are considering adoption should be prepared to face this during their adoption process. They need to prove that they have the energy to parent. This can be difficult if you are 50 years old talking to a 20-something social worker. Ask them about the typical ages of adoptive parents. Steer the conversation to prove that you have the energy to be an excellent parent.
It is also beneficial to find other people who are doing what you would like to do. If you want to be an adoptive parent after your children have left home, find other people who are doing this. Being around people who are doing what you want to do and observing them can be very helpful in deciding if it is truly what you want.
If you are considering adoption once your biological children are grown, start discussing your options early on. If you procrastinate, life will pass you by. Don’t get caught up in advancing your career. If you want to continue parenting, make it a priority.
Think about the age of the child you would like to adopt, and decide on any other characteristics that matter to you. Talk with adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents to learn about their experiences and expectations.