As they say, “Life begins at 40”. But can parenting begin at 40? Absolutely! Just ask the parents who embarked on the adventure called parenting and who bucked the notion of being “too old to be parents”.
Some of these are first-time parents while others have grown children. Some have chosen to put off parenting towards their latter years, as they pursued careers and other interests. Still some have struggled with infertility and have just recently explored the possibility of adoption. Whatever their circumstances, they have joyfully jumped into playgroups, diaper changing sessions, baby bottles and sweet potato and carrot mashing just about the time their contemporaries have started making plans towards retirement and the empty nest.
It is gratifying to know that domestic and international adoption programs welcome older parents-to-be. One of the reasons is that with today’s medical innovations, people are healthier and have longer life expectancies. Some older parents also attest that since they are “older”, they have also become wiser, more mature and relaxed than younger parents. Those who have already raised kids have years of experience under their belt. Much more, older parents are able to provide a more financially stable environment when they have accumulated enough savings, are earning a stable income and paid off a considerable portion of their major debt (i.e. the mortgage, insurance policies, etc.).
However, we must note that parenting during one’s middle age brings with it its own set of challenges. As their age advances into the 50s, parents will have to grapple with menopause, dwindling energy levels and even health issues.
Here are some tips for parents who made A Act of Love adoption in their latter years:
– Consider the adoption route you want to take. You can choose between domestic adoptions (such as the ones facilitated by A Act of Love Adoptions) and international adoptions. Remain open to changes during the adoption process, recognizing that there may be delays with the placement.
– Think about your age in each of your child’s developmental stages and then consider what would be the ideal age of the child you desire to adopt. If you feel you have the determination and commitment to adopt an infant, feel free to present yourself as a would-be parent. However, consider the fact that your knees and back may not be as fit to do the “baby dance” during the wee hours when baby can’t sleep. If this is the case, you can consider adopting a child that is past babyhood and even the terrible twos.
– Start moves towards keeping fit. There are would-be parents who went into some level of physical training to help make sure that their bodies are prepared for the rigors of parenthood. As you are waiting for news about your adoption application, it may be a perfect time to start dusting off that treadmill to up your energy levels. Remember, you should also physically prepare for international travel if you are adopting from another country. This may entail long hours of travel often in not-so-comfortable rides, exotic and unusual food, drastic change in temperatures you are used to and so on.
– Communicate with key members of the family. Your grown children, if you have any, may have mixed feelings with the adoption. They may start comparing your parenting style, availability and commitment and may feel like they’ve had the short end of the stick. It’s best to sit down with them and encourage them to open up about their feelings so that you can start any resolutions that need to be done.
– Compensate energetic activities with more quiet activities. If your energy levels are an issue, take every opportunity to spend quiet times with your child, reading a book, snuggling in the couch or creating arts and crafts. You can also exchange play dates with younger moms, so that she can deal with activities that require more energy while you host the more sedate activities.
– Take into account other responsibilities you have towards other family members. Making an addition to your family at this point may pile up on current responsibilities you may have. Are you taking care of elderly parents? Is there a possibility that some of your grown children may move back to your home? Consider all responsibilities carefully so that you know you can fulfill your commitments as a parent to a young child without ignoring other familial responsibilities.
– Work with adoption specialists rather than going at it on your own. Adoption agencies such as A Act of Love Adoptions or adoption specialists have extensive experience and can help provide you with invaluable advice. However, carefully check and read the contract to know what to expect.
– Make concrete preparations for the future. This includes appointing your child’s guardian and updating your will, insurance policy and health insurance coverage to include your adopted child.
– Prepare for the possibility of your being ill or incapacitated. As we get older we are more prone to sickness. Breaking a leg or getting the flu involves longer times of recovery. Heart attacks, spikes in your blood sugar or other health issues loom closer than ever. Be sure to have arrangements for your young child in case you become temporarily sick or incapacitated.
– Stay young. Don’t be surprised or offended when people ask, “Is he your grandchild?” Rather, face such questions with a friendly smile and simply prove that you can be as good a parent as anyone in their 20s or 30s. Keep yourself updated with the times. No matter if you are surrounded by parents who are younger than you at PTA meetings or at your children’s parties, staying young at heart could make all the difference.