March into My Heart

Today’s Drip: Need your age be a factor in considering adoption?

Parenting has changed dramatically over the last two decades and I am one big fan of the change.  Parents used to be predominantly in their 20’s, or early 30’s, when they had all of their kids.  Today, there are first-time mothers in their 40’s who don’t have to worry about the occasional eye-roll from the neighborhood book group or the jaw-drops from the younger mothers in the mommy-and-me class at the community center.  Better yet, mothers with young children are embracing the older moms with toddlers, as well as teenagers, who have proven tips and track-records for getting through potty-training and sleep issues.  I know because I was one of them and I felt good about giving requested advice to my fellow “Mommies”.

Many women hesitate to consider adoption after spending the better part of a decade struggling through infertility.  By the time they come to full realization that it’s just not going to happen biologically, they feel “too old” to start the adoption process. I have heard this many times from the very women I have coached through an adoption and they couldn’t be happier that they ignored the ticking clock.  I was the same age as the birthmother’s mother when I adopted my daughter, my third child, at the age of 41.  I have been nothing but grateful ever since.

For me the larger concern was the age gap between my two sons and my daughter at the time she was born, but I now consider it a blessing.  My younger son was delighted to suddenly be the “big brother” at the ripe old age of 7. The idea of babysitting someday soon was music to both my boys’ ears.  The built-in babysitter benefit improved my quality of life dramatically when I left far behind the days of begging teenage girls to give up their Saturday night to babysit for us.  When my son coached my daughter’s little league softball team one spring, I was in heaven, especially when he could drive her to all those practices!  Despite the age difference, the kids have a great relationship, and I believe my boys have learned about compassion for others through their little sister.

I will concede that the sleep deprivation and exhaustion factors were easier to tolerate at age 31 than at 41, and it was infinitely easier to run after an escaping toddler as a younger mom.  However, the benefits of being older clearly balance out the everyday challenges because of the ability to deal with the bigger issues easier.  The experiences in life through relatives’ or friends’ children, or our own older children, make some of the big decisions about schools, testing, medical/dental issues and the like much less daunting.  The ability to rationale your own screaming child on the airplane with “I’ll never see these people again so why worry?” comes much easier as an older parent.  The advantage of having to keep fit and thinking young is also a big plus for the older mom.  As with almost everything else, there are positives and negatives for both cases.  As a parent who has had experience parenting infants in two different decades, I highly recommend leaving your age out of it when considering more children.

Looking at experience in life and love as the benefit to being an older mom is critical to making the right choice about adoption.  The third time around, I have much more patience and understanding on my side making me a better mom to all three of my children.  I am also finally feeling complete, knowing that before my daughter came along, I was completely ChildDrenched and aching for the child that was missing in my life.  Attaining that dream made me a happier person and subsequently, a better parent.  Whether it’s your first child or the fourth, adopting a child is a blessing for all concerned.  A mother has an ever-lasting impression on that child, regardless of her age, which in the long run will make no difference to anyone.

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Comments (3)

  1. Many thanks for being my mentor on this subject. My partner and i enjoyed your own article very much and most of all cherished the way in which you handled the areas I regarded as controversial. You happen to be always really kind to readers like me and aid me in my everyday living. Thank you.

  2. Kim Marvin

    Patty,

    I will never forget seeing your precious daughter for the first time. You sent us an email with your daughter’s picture announcing her arrival, I was so overwhelmed that I could not stop the tears. The relationship you had with your mother was not like most. You two were so close, many were in awe of your strong bond of friendship. Since your mother’s passing, I could feel how much that loss weighed on your heart. To be blessed with a daughter was an answer to prayer. Thank you for taking the time to share your many insights on adoption and encouraging others to not give up.

    Love,
    Kim