Marlou Russell is a psychologist, adoption author, and a truly wonderful woman. She chatted with Lifetime about older adoptive parents to help both adoptive parents and birth parents understand that age is not as important as the many other factors that make up a good home.
Many couples are considering adoption later in life for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is that people are spending more time establishing their careers, so they are becoming parents later in life than people did years ago.
The percentage of people over the age of 40 who are considering adoption is rapidly growing. Here at Lifetime Adoption, we have had adoptive parents in their 40s and 50s and even some dads in their 60s.
Marlou explains that there are benefits in placing a child with older adoptive parents.
When people decide to adopt a child in their 40s or later they often have a level of maturity that other parents don’t have. For instance, a lot of older people have already had very successful careers, and they are in a position where they can step back and concentrate on being a new family and being parents.
Another benefit of older parents is financial security. If you are in your 20s and 30s and need to work while you parent, it’s hard to do both really well. It’s much easier to raise a child once you have paid off student loans, are established in your home, and have built a solid career.
There is a common misconception that it’s easier for older parents to adopt internationally. This is not entirely true. There are shifting beliefs about age. People are living longer, and have more active lives than they ever have and the adoption world is catching on. We are seeing age limits expand for adoptive parents.
A lot of times people will ask us, “Do you think we are too old to adopt?” This is not a question we can answer for you. You have to look at who you are, what your personality is like, and imagine what your life would be like with kids in it. Spend some time in a park or around kids of friends or family and see how easy it is for you to keep up with them.
When it is your child, and you are parenting, there is an emotional drive to care for them that can compensate for lack of energy. But, if doing things outside of your basic routine is difficult for you, then you need to ask yourself how it would work when you have to be up at night with a child, or you have to start living a more active lifestyle.
Just this month, one of Lifetime's older adoptive families brought their little girl home. He is 56 years old and she is 55 years old. We had another African American couple in Alabama bring home their little boy and they are 58 and 52 years old. These couples were presented to birth moms alongside "younger" couples. Age really doesn't matter to Lifetime's birth moms. They care more about how you'll love their child and raise them in a home full of acceptance. Our #1 request from birth mothers isn't for young couples, it's for families that are 'loving'.
A common concern about older adoptive parents is that they will pass away when the child is still relatively young. Marlou says that it’s not as big of an issue as many people make it out to be. It’s important to understand that nothing in life is guaranteed. A horrible accident or illness can cause the death of young adoptive parents as well. If you are 40 and are adopting or having a child, you are probably going to be around for 30 more years. Part of the job of any parent is launching a responsible adult.