A recent study of Americans’ attitudes toward aging contained this little gem: Respondents thought people should stop having children by age 41, on average. While nature — at least for women — may concur with the results, that hasn’t stopped older couples from adopting when they are well into their 50s and even 60s, bucking the idea that they are too old to be parents.
Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of “Adoption Nation,” called boomers’ embrace of adoption “a trend that’s clearly happening,” although he doesn’t know of any group tracking the ages of adoptive parents. But, “without question, more of them are doing it,” he said.
“The world has changed, but our biology hasn’t,” Pertman said. “Adoption fills that gap. People marry later, women are involved in the workplace — it makes even more sense to adopt. Women live well into their 80s. They can have a child when they are 50 and still live to see their grandkids. Older parents are very often happy — actually seek out — the adoption of an older child. This serves all parties and society.”
You’re never too old to adopt or love a child, say adoptive parents who were midlifers when they welcomed new family additions. In some cases, the parents had already raised children; for others, it was jumping on the parenting train for the first time before it left the station for good.
When Judy and Don Criglow of Louisiana traveled to China 10 years ago to adopt then 2-year-old Abbie, they already had four grown children between them, ages ranging from 20 to 29. Judy was 50 and Don, 55, and their youngest was finishing college. “Our other children were grown, out-of-college, married adults when we went for Abbie,” Judy said. “We actually had two grandchildren at the time — now there are three.”
Judy said a lightbulb went off when she realized she was attempting to mother her two grandkids instead of “grandmothering” them: “It was simple as this: We weren’t finished being parents. We wanted to raise another child,” she said. “We just weren’t the kind of people to buy an RV and go traveling.”
The self-employed couple travels sometimes for work — they are in the Dallas area for a six-month contract right now — and Abbie, who is home-schooled, travels with them. She is a good student, makes friends easily and is the apple of her parents’ eyes.
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