How old is too old to have or adopt a baby? 40? 45? 50? How do you make this decision? I received the following question last week.
I am currently struggling – in fact, agonizing – over this decision. I am turning 40 next month and my husband is 45. After unsuccessful IVF treatments, we are considering adoption. However, as much as I dream of having a family, I’m worried we are too old to begin one at our age. At what age would you personally decide to give up on motherhood if you were in a similar situation? I feel that your answer would be so well informed that it might help guide me through this painful decision-making process. Thank you!
I’m flattered that you value my opinion, but as you know, each person is different and will answer this question based on her own values and life dreams. I have, however, thought about this topic a lot and can share my thoughts. I should add that I’m assuming that you and your husband are in good health.
The Lure of the Accidental Pregnancy
It would be so much easier, wouldn’t it, if you could just accidentally (or accidentally on purpose) get pregnant. If only you could just forget to use birth control one night and end up pregnant. The decision would be made, and you wouldn’t have to be the one deciding. Chances are good that you’d worry a little, then settle into adapting.
Unfortunately, neither infertility treatment nor adoption work that way. They demand a conscious choice. They demand answering questions about your readiness. They demand money. Dammit!
What are Your Dreams?
What were your and your husband’s dreams for your life? Did they always include children or would you be almost as content to just be a family of two with the freedoms and joys of that life style?
What are your and your husband’s dreams for the next 20+ years? Can you imagine being the mom to a preschool and elementary school aged child in your 40s, teen in your 50s, and young adult in your 60s? (Our society has extended adolescence into the mid 20s and many many young adults are still living with their parents well into their 20s.)
Continuing is Easier than Starting
Likely it’s the answer to these questions of what you want your future life to look like that is causing you to agonize over this decision because chances are good that you don’t know the answers. How can you since this is unchartered territory for you.
I believe it is easier for people who are already in the midst of parenting to make the decision to have another child when they are in their 40s than for someone who is not a parent to decide to have their first child. They have a better idea of what they are getting into.
You Won’t Be Alone
People your age who are already parenting also know that they won’t be alone in this “older” parenting journey. You don’t run in the “parents of young kids” circles, so you might have no idea how many people in their late 30s and early to mid-40s are having and adopting children. There are many.
If you decide to adopt or go through another round of IVF using donor eggs, you will not be the only parent over 40 sitting on kiddie chairs at parent-teacher conferences, coaching Little League, or worrying over how much homework is reasonable for an eight year old. You will not be the only parent over 50 teaching your kid to drive, worrying over setting a reasonable curfew, and visiting colleges. You will not be the only parent over 60 paying college tuition, cheering your child’s first job with real benefit, or celebrating a wedding. You will not be the only parent over 70 welcoming a first grandchild.
Is It Fair to the Child?
All decisions we make in regards to children are supposed to be made considering first and foremost what is in the best interest of the child. I absolutely believe that age is more than just a number, even though I wish that weren’t the case. Parenting is for life, and the active hands-on all-consuming part will last 20+ years. You have to assess your health and energy to know whether this choice is fair for the child.
What Would You Regret More
You will never know for certain ahead of time the answers to the questions I’ve asked. Maybe the better question is which would you regret less: playing it safe with what you know or taking the risk to start a new life at 40?
Would you have your first child in your 40s? Share your words of wisdom for someone trying to decide.
P.S. My last child joined my family when I was 39 and my husband was 42. We would do it over again in a second.
This blog is being republished with modification. Image credit:sean dreilinger
Add Your Comment
After 10 years of infertility, 3 rounds of unsuccessful IVF and 2 miscarriages my husband and I adopted our daughter when I was 41 and he was 40. Now at age 43 almost 44, we’re going to try and grow our family again with a donor embryo. Starting a family in our 40’s is the best thing ever and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
I wanted to start my own family as a father and I’m already 40, have more than one child and my wife is 34. We were just married this past June and I was told to wait until next year to try to have my wife conceive, but we have DD and I have schizophrenia and I want to share my hobbies is the reason to have kids and I don’t want the family tree to end when I die, is there a possibility to have kids multiple times after 40 as a dad?
Thanks for reaching out to share your story. The good news is YES, you can have kids after 40. There are many ways to pursue parenthood and if the pregnancy route is not going to be your path, adoption and foster care are excellent options! Only you, your wife, and the medical professionals on your team can make the decisions about pregnancy, fertility, etc. So work with them to fully understand your fertility health as a couple. And remember that biological parenting is just one of the options to consider!
Very interesting article. I had my last child age age 39 years and 6 months. I remember the day my daughter age age 5 left her homework and I took it to the class that morning, when my daughter came home she said all the children were saying your Mommy is old because the whole class Mommy were in their 20s. Well it motivated me and until today I look way younger than my age. My son will be 43 years old this year, he was dating a woman for 8 1/2 years and was hoping for a family, she had kids and had tied her tubes and would not tell him. He finally moved on. I have a young lady that I want to introduce to him but I researched and found your article, the problem she is the same age as he and he really want to be a parent. Should I or Shouldnt I do the introduction, I have been holding off for over a year and just felt the time is right.
One problem I have is that women are getting blamed. Most women know the facts and would prefer to have their kids earlier. It’s the men who are delaying things.
At this point now that I am 40 if I meet a guy the talk will be adopting an older child if I don’t get pregnant quickly.
I see your point – however, many women are choosing to proceed to motherhood without waiting to meet a man. It’s another topic entirely – this pursuit of motherhood as a single woman using third-party reproduction or choosing adoption – but it’s available to many and a viable option to consider.
Hope your doing well. I think as long as your ready you’ll be great parents ????. I know first hand how it is because I’m 17 but have 2 half sisters that are almost 3 and 4 so my dad is helping me get ready for my senior year and chasing my sisters around at 42 and my stepmom is 26 but he is a great dad with lots of energy left and it has been really great for all of us ????.
As a 55 yr old Mom of an almost 14 yr old am I too old? Heck no! She came to us at birth (hubby was able to cut the cord and all that cool stuff) when we were 41. (after one failed adoption which we started a couple of years earlier) Do I wish we were able to become parents younger? Yes and no. Yes because I allowed my hubby to convince me that we were too old to try for #2. My only age regret and well…sorry darlin’ I love you but we should have gone for #2!
No is for all the amazing things our life brought us before child. No is also because of not only financial reasons but also our own maturity. Sure a few years earlier would have been nice….maybe if I was allowed to really choose I would have picked mid 30’s. NO way 20’s! BUT has my daughter suffered due to us being “older”? You’d have to ask her that but I think she is fine with it. I’ve rocked a Miley Cyrus concert with her (OH PLEASE this was in her Hannah Montana days), we recently went to see Katy Perry (I think I was more excited than she was 🙂 ) She won’t admit she also saw the Wiggles 😛 Next up on my bucket list taking her to concerts is hopefully Aerosmith. As the saying goes “I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands” 🙂 Now she knows them too. She loves it, well mostly, as our tastes don’t always connect. She’s been to a Disney park more times than I will admit to. (Let’s just say quite a few more times than her age) Did we go for her? Sort of kind of. We would have gone anyway and she got to come along. She started to fly when she was 6 months old and the last time was June. She’s been all over the country. Again…it was always our lifestyle to travel and now she is able to fit in and experience with us.
I’m the Mom who will dance around the room badly singing R-E-S-P-E-C-T to help learn spelling words. We play video games together along with a Mom and her kids from across the country online. Her Dad is the guy who will take her camping where all they have is a row boat to get to their very remote camp site and carry all their supplies (Mom passed on that!) , will drive 6 hours to pick up her and 2 friends from a week long swim camp a state north of us.
I tend to babble and here is no exception. Sorry! I can say that our energy level was of course higher when we were younger. We’re still running to play dates, swim practice, band and school stuff etc. Are we more tired than we would have been 20 years ago. Probably. (OK yes! now that she, and we, are older. Infant/toddler and grade school age didn’t seem to make a difference) The plus side of a bit of slowing down is we possibly spend more family time together. Dad is into history and things like that so they sit together and watch (and learn) things on television and then talk about it. Family “chill nights” We talk a lot. Silly things to serious things. We slow down and take time that we probably wouldn’t have earlier in life.
My biggest concession to age is I did start dying my mostly white hair (it’s a gene thing) about a year ago. Sort of for her and sort of for me.
Someone mentioned Grandparents and how if you adopt older the kids miss the experience of having them. Sadly my Mom passed when I was mid 30’s, my Dad is 85 with mid to advance Alzheimer’s. My FIL also has passed but she still has my MIL who is younger and going strong. My Dad’s Mother lived to be 103 and my daughter was named after her (middle name along with my Mom’s name) So yeah…that experience is 3/4 missing but she has an amazing few Uncles and their families. Then again my Grandmother died when I was 18. My Grandfather before I was born. Another Grandfather quite young. Genes and luck of the draw at any age.
One other thing I wanted to add before I finally close this book….Friends. Yours, not your child’s. Most of our friends had kids in their 20’s so they are either marrying them off or are Grandparents by now. I found that early on we didn’t quite fit in because we were the childless ones. Now it’s not quite a fit because we are the ones with a child. A few relationships stayed strong but mostly they went on with the lives they were living at the time and so did we. Soooo like someone else said you make new ones. I have several who are mid to late 30’s and early 40’s and it doesn’t seem to make a difference that I’m older.
I could go on and on about pluses on older parenting but I think this book is long enough. Minuses sure. But I think it all comes down to who YOU are. Either way. Young or old….if the love is there and the desire then you can and will make it work to everyone’s benefit. I would do it again in a nano second….except this time I would add that second child! (For her….she’s been asking for a sibling since she knew she was missing one)
OK I’m finally done. Thanks for reading the babbling this far!
I sooo love this article and the comments. I met my husband when I turned 35 and I will be 40 in a few weeks. We are still not ready but willing and wanting to have children. We are working on financial and health security also owning our own home. I truly want kids but I want to eliminate as much debt as possible. I am feared with the “am I too old” syndrome. The comments have assured me we are not alone and inspired me. A BIG THANK YOU
Thank you. Love this response.
Meh……it’s only women who are judged for being older first-time parents, and not just because of genetic concerns. Jeff Goldblum became a first-time at 62, and I didn’t hear or read “butbut it’s so SELFISH!” from anyone, anywhere.
That double standard is why I don’t take the critics seriously. I was a first-timer at 45 and I’m doing fabulously at it.
Thank you for the encouragement!!!
Hi Lila, I was wondering how you dealt with the broken nights and waking up early (for years). Did you not feel alllll the time you just wanted to sleep? And were you a working mom too?
And how are things now, 5 years in?
Sorry, many questions.. 🙂
I’m not working full time out of the house, but I did bring home my last child at 45. And there are some significant differences btw night time parenting in my 20’s and 30’s and now, even the occasional waking with her in my 50’s. I feel like I’m way more dependent on a strict routine to give me the time to get the rest that I need more than I needed it when parenting in the early years.
I know your comment was from many years ago, but you’ve given me so much hope and made me feel better. I’m 43 and never had children; I never had the the desire… until now. Baby fever hit me like a freight train out of nowhere. I always thought if I did have kids, I would only want to adopt, and that’s precisely what I yearn to do now. Due to my age, some people’s input can be disheartening. However, again, you have made me feel validated and justified regarding my desire to adopt and give a child a loving home, who might not otherwise have one. Thank you.
Thank you for saying that. I am 46 and I want to be a mom. My friends are pushing me to just do a third party process, but I want to find someone that is right for me and start a family. People around me push me I can get a relationship anytime but pursue having a baby on my own. I believe both are possibilities. This topic does not feel good talking about it when ppl are pushing you to live according to what they see.
I just turned 53 and I’m expecting twins in a couple of months. Pregnancy with twins is not easy, but my much younger friends suffered as much as I do, if not more. I feel I’m better prepared to take care of them now. I live abroad and we have a nice house in a village with 450 people, and we are surrounded by lots of farms. Most of our food comes from this area, which is good. The babies will be trilingual, and their first school has only about 40 children. If you still are young at heart and have energy, 50, even 55 is ok. Tomorrow is not given for anybody. I could live for another 40 years whereas a 25 year old could die tomorrow.
You are an inspiration. I
Thank you Lollo. You are my hero. Praying for a healthy delivery of your precious bundles. I just turned 46 and trying and praying for twins to join our 12 year old.
Bravo! Bravo! I hope the world can hear more stories like this Thank u for sharing
I gave birth to our daughter when I was 22. Nine years latter we adopted a baby boy while we were in South America.
Six years later a three year old boy walked through the door holding the social worker’s hand and said, “You my new mommy?” How do you answer that question with anything but a yes. (I was the fourth new mommy in a year but I was the last.)
Our last two children (boys) were the biological children of our third child. We got custody of them as infants and thought it was better for them to be raised by really old parents rather than grandparents so they were legally adopted.
We’ve had 13 months of empty next in 54 years. Some of our children have developmental delays so at 75 and 77 we’re still very active parents. Has it sometimes been difficult? Yes, but it’s also been worth it! There are no regrets, only lots of memories.
Thank you Donna for a wonderful testimony for older parenthood.
I couldn’t have found this article at a better time, and all of your comments could not be more welcome. I’m 43 and my husband is 45 and we’re just starting our adoption journey through foster care. We’re hoping to adopt two siblings anywhere from toddler to age 8. My husband really wants a little one, at least a toddler, and my dear friend who has adopted herself and works in foster care has suggested that we should consider babies as well. My only hang up with that age was the fear that of orphaning our children when they were only in their 30’s or 40’s. As someone commented earlier, kids in foster care have already lost so much. However, after reading your comments, I’m thinking that as painful as it would be for that to happen to them, I’m sure they would take a too-short time in a happy, loving and supportive family, over none at all.
I know we will be better parents than we would have been in our forties, and even our thirties. We’re settled, comfortable, and in a good place with our careers. I honestly can’t think of any other drawbacks to our being older parents. All of your comments and experiences have reinforced that for me, and I thank you.
I’m so glad the blog and comments have been helpful to you. Keep us posted over at the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/creatingafamily/) on how your adoption journey goes. It’s a closed Facebook group so that only those in the group can see the posts.
As someone who lost their bio Mother, their best friend, when I was mid 30’s….Mom was only 61…you can’t predict the future. Like they say we could all get hit by a bus tomorrow. Go for it! The love and guidance my Mom gave me in those 30something years leaves memories and great feelings even to this day. My only regret (well besides I don’t have her in my life anymore of course!) is she was never able to meet my daughter. Then again maybe she did? She, as she was dying, promised to send me the perfect little girl. 🙂 Not quite the way I imagined and it took 4 years but who knows?
My husband and I came late to the idea of parenthood – we went to graduate school, built a career and a business respectively, traveled a lot. We tried to become parents when he was 40 and I was 38, but I was not able to get pregnant. We adopted a newborn at 41 and 44. We were ready to settle down and nest, stay home with a little one, do something outside of ourselves. She keeps us young – we feel younger, happier, more engaged and not just grouchy old people. My friends, who are my age, have kids who are teenagers and the mothers in mom’s groups are 10-15 years younger than I. My friends, with the older kids, were the best support for me. I am an independent, introverted person and I love kids, so being a stay-at-home mom and doing my own thing hasn’t been hard while she has been little. Maybe I don’t have as much energy as 20-something or 30-something Moms, love naptime as much as she does, but we weren’t ready to be parents at that age. If your heart is telling you that you want to be a parent, go for it! Its a change, but you adjust and parenthood is a lovely thing.
I was 36 and 43 when my two girls (adopted) were born. Dh is two years older. Where I live in the Northeast, this is pretty standard fare. I have mom friends of all ages. Both of my grandmas gave birth to their last kids at 43….one was my dad. So I am glad she didn’t think she was too old or I wouldn’t be here!
I was 37 and DH 40 when our first child came home through adoption, and 3 years later, we welcomed a second. Where we live, it’s not unusual to have older parents and while it isn’t ideal (started trying to get pregnant at age 32), I’m coming around to the idea that it will be fine. I was pretty upset for a while when I realized that I am an older parent, but we both have longevity on our side and we are both health and very active. Plus it helps that DH is a kid at heart. 🙂
Geochick and Mama Mia, I’m glad you raised the point about differences in what is considered “old” based on where you live. That is very true. Our children’s experiences will be different as well based on the % of “older” parents in our geographic area.
I started pursuing adoption at age 45. I’m the first time mom of a 3 1/2 month old at age 47. I love being a mom! It’s even better than I expected! Most of the single adoptive mom’s that I know adopted in their mid to late 40s. Given the experience of a failed adoption and everything that it took to successfully adopt, I think this is the perfect time in my life for me to be a new mom. And given the wonderful son that I’m raising, I’m glad I did not become a mother earlier since we would’ve missed out on him! The only person whose opinion mattered to me in this decision was his birth mother who chose me, knowing that I am single and knowing my age.
Karen, I agree that most of the single moms by choice that I know are in their late 30s or early to mid 40s when they are financially and emotionally ready to embark on this journey.
We got pregnant with our first child after nearly 2 years of trying. We were 26 and 27 years old. We adopted her younger sister almost exactly 7 years after she was born (tried to get pregnant for 5 years and the adoption process was nearly 2 years). We are now 36 and 37 with a 9yo and a 2yo and want to adopt again.
Problem is, we are starting the process of building a house. We won’t be done with that for a couple years. I used to think that once we were done with the house and ready to adopt again we’d be too old to (around 40) to think about adopting another baby. But as I get closer to 40, I see just how crazy that notion is. Age is more than a number, that’s for sure. And having younger kids when you’re older helps keep you young.
As for feeling isolated, I have good friends who all have kids my children’s ages. Some of the parents are in their 20’s, some in their 30’s, some in their 40’s and one dad even old enough to be MY dad! Some of them only have young ones. Some have older teenagers. Part of what brings us together is shared experiences with raising tweens and/or toddlers. Part is that we all have other common interests. But a bigger part is just that we love each other.
Nicely said Maridy.
I was asked today if I felt I had the energy to parent a 5 year old at 48. I told her, probably in her early 60’s in rehab for a knee replacement, that I felt better now than I did before we became parents. I have run 3 half marathons, walk everyday and have more energy than I ever had. I know it is a combination of the child and me. Age is less scary when you are parenting a young child, at least for me.
I guess there are 2 camps on this, one that you have to have children while young and the other (mine) which goes, huh? Somebody asked me today how I kept up with my almost 5 year old as a 48 year old parent. I told her very well, I am actually in better shape than I was before he came into our lives. I have done 3 half marathons and ride my bike and walk everyday. Life expectancies are longer now. An interesting side effect of being a parent after 40 is that age is different, it is no longer the end of youth it is the beginning of family. I cannot imagine do this any other way.
But is the waking up early every day and the broken nights not super taxing (mentally and physically)? Especially if one has to work as well.
Warning this is a book: Mom was late 30’s/dad late 40’s when I was adopted. They both had longevity genes and practiced extremely healthy lifestyles that most today would not be able to match. If they hadn’t been so incredibly healthy, they wouldn’t have been able to provide us a high activity lifestyle.
They were the age of my peers grandparents, probably not as relevant as today with a growing number of older parents. But it will still show in the generation gap, my peers parents parented a generation ahead of how my parents parented. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say my parents grew up before, and during the depression, compared to parents who were too young to remember/understand the depression – different mindsets. It did create a difference between what my peers were allowed and what I was allowed.
I do think on the downside is the real risk of lack of grandparents and their role in showing the continuity of family, how family interacts and cares for each other, generation after generation. Plus the lack of having parents when the children are young adults needs to be considered. Also with adoption the child has already lost one set of parents so that needs to be fully assessed from the risk of them losing yet another set at perhaps a young age.
I think 40’s is probably the oldest that I would consider okay…after that I think the overreaching concern must remove the wants of the potential parents to what is best for the child.
Final note sparked from one of the comments: Where you live is somewhat age based, will older parents live in communities where empty nest is the norm, or in the communities where small children are the norm? Something to consider because if your neighborhood is empty nesters who will be your child’s peers, playmates.
Good points TAOs. Did you feel embarrassed by having older parents?
Dawn, I didn’t feel embarrassed, I thought it was unfair (may or may not have been) the difference in what my friends were allowed and what I was allowed, even if their parents had the same faith, community, etc., there were visible differences that I attributed to the different era’s – I think most parent (or avoid parenting) as you were parented – the country back then was in a huge shift forward…
I think older parents do need to recognise the differences generation gaps will show in how they parent, how their children’s peers are parented and at least try to find a way to meet in the middle sometimes so it isn’t starkly different…hope that makes sense…
This reads as hugely selfish and single-minded.
I adopted Reed on my 50 th year. You are not too old! Get over that! Go for it!
I feel if you love the child go for it. I fostered my adopted child for almost two years before the adoption. She does have some issues to be dealt with; however, they could have shown up in a biological child. We love each other so much. We have our ups and downs just like a typical family and we work thru them. By the way, I’m 66. I made sure she would have a place to go if I became seriously ill and/or passed away. This is also someone who loves her and she love this person very much.
Thank you for writing this post!
I’m currently in the process of gaining approval for Adoption myself (and I just turned 41) through the Ministry in BC (local adoption). The process for approval will likely take a full year…so that is something to consider (and gives you time to change your mind if it’s not for you – but start now even if you change your mind later!) My preference is to adopt kids older than 4 years old…so there are always options for the older parent.
Plus there are so many kids in the Foster Care system who need a permanent home – they range in age from 0-18 years, so there’s always the option of older children to consider.
Good luck to the person who sparked this post and conversation, I hope you and your husband find the right fit for you and get to have the family you desire 🙂
I always thought I older when I started my family probably in my 30s. However, when there was no one to share the burden with I dropped the idea of becoming a mother. There was no way I was going to do it alone. Lo and behold my husband wanted to have a child when we got married so we tried and failed at fertility and adopted at 43. I love it. I have no regrets, no feeling that I am missing something by parenting and staying at home. It is difficult to be the oldest first time mother, but I also get to relax more than others because I have been around the block. No worries about eating dirt and wondering whether I am providing enough stimulation. Its sword fights and silly songs. 🙂
I have a friend that is 66 and has a 6 year old and a 3 year old. I don’t know how she has the energy, but her boys are clean, healthy, safe and well loved!
Oh Dawn, this is why I LOVE creating a family because it addresses the tough questions!! This is one issue I have a really hard time with. I am 38 next month, my husband is 45. We’ve been trying for a little over 2 years. Every year that goes by, I calculate how old we will be when our child is 5, 10, 20, 30, 40…how old will our child(ren) be when one of us pass away? How old will they be when we may not be able to take care of them as well as we’d like? I know it is totally morbid but it’s really important. If we are successful with fertility treatment this year, and I have a child at 39, by the time that child is my age, I will be 78 and my husband will be 85. Although both of us have good “genes” and our families live to old age, these are ages that death is a possibility. When I think right now about losing my parents, I can cry myself to sleep (and both my parents are in their mid 60s). But for our kids (if we are blessed with them), it will be more of a reality when they are in their 30s. I don’t know if that is fair and I struggle with that a lot.
AnonT, I can’t answer the “fair” question, but I can say that many many women are having kids now at 39 so if you are successful, you will likely be surrounded by other moms your age.
I am 48 and just adopted a baby girl! My first (and she will be my only) child.
I can’t answer this because who am I to judge when a couple decides to start their family. Prior to infertility I would have said 40 is too old, but my experience has made me more humble and empathetic to other people. It’s impossible for me to judge when my circumstances of meeting my wife when I was 19 and getting married at 27. It’s easy for me to say they waited too long when the reality is their circumstances may have prevented an early attempt for children.
I am very encouraged by this blog and the comments. I am nearly 42 and my husband is 48. We are almost done with our home study. Lately I have been having these same thoughts about being too old to start a family. But, it is what we both want more than anything. I feel like my classmates slowest to start a family already have 6 and 7 year olds and others have kids in college. I am glad to see others who got a late start and still feel like it was a good decision for both them and the kids.
Reading this blog post – as well as all the heartfelt comments and shared experiences -brings me hope. Dreams of starting a family can feel like they are fading quickly as we get older… even when our desire hasn’t wavered.
I started to question myself when confronted with the notion that there comes a time when starting a family becomes a selfish decision that is no longer in the child’s best interest. WHEN exactly that time has come isn’t always clear. I would still welcome the opportunity to attend soccer games in my 50s or graduations in my 60s… but I worry about my child feeling disconnected or missing out on experiences children share with younger parents.
I would never want my children to be burdened at a young age by having “old parents” or being orphaned early when they still very much need me. I would love to be there when they get married, buy their first house or even need help with their own children. My parents were in their twenties when they started our family. They have always been actively involved and it troubles me to think I might not be able to participate in my children’s life in the same manner since I’m starting 20 years later than they did.
I never anticipated entering my forties without a family of my own, but I will take heart in knowing there are many great examples of families that got a later start in life — families that are just as close and loving in spite of the bigger generational gap… and that while my dreams have so far been delayed, they are not yet beyond reach.
Thank you all for sharing your stories!
AJ, I am so thankful that you are willing to think about when having children becomes a selfish pursuit. I would share that all decisions to parent are at least to some significant degree a selfish pursuit, but I hear your bigger point when you think about your age.
One thought, however, for you to muse over. Young parents (in their 20s) are having children right at the same time they are getting started in their life and are focusing on getting settled into work. Often they are at the point in their jobs where they have little control over their hours and at a point where they need to work long and hard to be able to buy a house and set money aside for the future. You could argue that this is not the best time to be starting a family. My point is not that people shouldn’t have kids young; rather, that there are advantages and disadvantages to each age at having kids.
I became a mother for the first time at 39. My own mother by adoption was also 39 and I believe younger parents are such an asset. I am saddened by the trend and find all those photos of new adoptive parents who look like grandparents quite disturbing and upsetting because I know the downsides of having older parents and of being one. It’s not all roses and rainbows!
Von, I was a mom in my 20s and in my late 30s. I think there are advantages to both ages. On the other hand, I do believe that at some age, you have to be realistic–age is more than just a number. We only have so many years on this earth and so many years of good/excellent health. Damnit!
My husband and I are 54 and 53. We are adopting a five year old girl from Africa, the same age as our oldest granddaughter! I cannot imagine someone at 40 too old to be a great parent!
I had my two biological children at 37 and 39 and last year my husband and I adopted a 1 year old from Russia (we are both mid 40’s). I can honestly say she’s been the greatest gift and I feel I am a much better parent than I was in my 30’s. Maybe I’ve just been slow ‘growing up’, but I feel I have a lot more understanding and patience now at this stage of my life. If I could have had my way, the adoption process would have happened a lot faster, and I would have become a third time mother around 40-41. But that’s not have it worked out (international adoption taking a long time). And I must say it’s all worked out for the best as this little girl was very clearly the one I was meant to mother! There’s also something nice in history repeating itself as my own mother was also 44 when she had me (my dad 46), an ‘after-thought’ after my two sisters who are 21 and 23 years older than I. (My mother and sister were pregnant at the same time and my niece and I were born 2 months apart.) My mum always used to say that I kept her young – that’s also how I feel 😉
No, not too old at 40 to start a family! 40’s the new 30. We suffered for years with infertility, so finally we used egg donors, and it was the best thing that ever happened. I was 41 for our first born singleton and 42 for our boy/girl twins. We only wished we had decided to use a donor early on because I got pregnant immediately. We are doing great, and loving it! Our kids are now 8 and 9yrs.
I have a thought about the meaning of parents to adopted foster kids. Twenty years ago at my college graduation, a medical student I knew introduced me to 2 white haired people in their 70s, I assumed were his grandparents. He proudly introduced me to his parents. He explained later he had been adopted by his foster parents as a young teenager and how much he loved them. I remember feeling respect for both my friend and his parents. In that moment, in my 20s, I thought adoption might be something I would consider in the future.
My wife and I were 45 when we went to China for our 1 year old daughter. We are 60 now and the only regret is that we didn’t decide quickly enough to get a second child. Yes, we will have to work until age 70 to see her all the way through undergraduate college but we knew that up front and accepted that.
The disadvantages we ran into is that all of our daughter’s classmates had parents much younger than us, so my wife and I have had some social isolation. Also, I had some health problems in my 50s which resulted in a year that I could not fully participate in my daughter’s life. The main downside for our daughter is that only one of our neighbors or close friends had a child her age.
The advantages were that we were much more financial stable and we both were able to focus more on her (and less on our careers) while she was growing up. Also being a little older enabled us to be more laid back in terms of raising her and enjoying watching her grow.
So my suggestion would be to take a good look at your life and decide if there is anything foreseeable that would be a major risk for your child (financial issues, parental health problems, etc). If not, and if you have the energy, then go for it!
My situation is similar to Bev’s and I totally agree with her philosophy. We had four grown-and-flown bio kids but felt we weren’t ready for an empty nest yet and our house was way too quiet. So at the age of 60 (though we feel much younger!) my dh and I adopted a sibling pair aged 13 and 7. Adopting them was the most challenging yet meaningful experience of our lives! Though some of our friends questioned our sanity, we feel our new kids help keep us young. Being a soccer mom in my sixties is amazing!
I used to worry about this question. Now that I’m 46 and preparing to be a first time mom, it feels totally silly. It’s time when it’s time! I can’t wait and I’ve never been so ready.
We adopted a 2 year old and we’re both 40. Our family is doing fine.
I love Dawn’s comment “Things have changed.”
When my mom was 38 I was graduating from high school. When I was just a few months shy of 38 I was holding my daughter for the first time.
My mom thought we were nuts..
My younger sister, on the other hand, had her children at 24 and 26 and, also, thought we were nuts.
Our daughter joined our family at 3.5 yo so we weren’t starting life as parents with a new born which made a big difference for us. At 41 now with a 7 yo I feel like I am a much better mom than I would have been at a younger age.
Everything has worked out quite well and we wouldn’t change anything. Neither my mom nor my sister thinks we are nuts any longer.
Search your heart and imagine where you want to be in 10 or 20 years. Choosing to be a family of 2 is fine. Or if you choose to start adding to your family now you will find many moms and dads in your age range.
I’m yoWand we just adopted A 2 yo. We’re doing fine.
I am 47 and a single parent with an adopted 3.5 year old. I agree with all of the favorable comments about the joys of older parenting and the ease of finding other older parents with young kids. I would add a few things to consider, however. It might take a few years before you actually have a child. I started my family building adventure at 40 with time spent on adoption, then trying to get pregnant, and then back to adoption. The adoption of my daughter was finalized just after I turned 45. Also, to take care of some of my worries (about being her only parent, and turning into a senior citizen when my daughter is a young adult), I made sure to draw up a will, powers of attorney, guardianship, and adjusted my retirement savings plan. Even with the worries, I wouldn’t trade my parenting experience for anything!
Lizabeth, I’m glad you raised the point about how long adoption can take. It’s one thing to begin at 40, but it isn’t likely that you’ll be 40 when your child comes home. Also, great point about the legal responsibilities that come with being an older parent. They are the responsibilities of ALL parents, but older parents need to act on them sooner rather than later.
When I first saw this post I dreaded reading the comments and now I am so glad I did! I am 49, single, starting foster care (starting with respite, short term placements and then once my feet get wet) with hoping to adopt and having a child has always been my dream. I love the questions asked. I would be thrilled to have every next day in my life filled with motherhood (ok, I know I will not feel that way every single day when/if it happens :-). I guess my point is that while my energy is lower now than 10, 15 years I ago, it is clear to me that I feel more energized when taking care of children in my life both physically and emotionally. I know it will be diff when they are with me all the time and that I will need lots of help. That is what I’m focusing on now – how to get that.
I’ve never met anyone who regretted their decision to parent. But I have known people who struggle everyday with their decision not to. I started my infertility journey when I was 38 and ultimately adopted my son (as a single mom) when I was 41. I think about doing it again all the time! I’d say go for it!! And by the way, granted I live in a big city, but I never feel like the oldest parent.
Rebecca, even outside of large cities, moms who began at 40 or 41 or seldom the oldest, but are often one of the oldest.
I adopted my second at almost 42 – she came home at almost 4, so she was born when I was 38. She is special needs and I’m a single mom so I thought seriously about what would happen if something were to happen to me. It still is a worry I have. However, I now am the almost 44 year old mother to an 11 (almost 12) year old and a 6 year old. They wear me out and keep me hopping. I love it – though I have my “what was I thinking” moments that all parents have. I would say that if you both want to be parents, then go for it. There are plenty of children who would love to have parents. If you’re too concerned about a newborn, there are plenty of older children available for adoption – both through foster care and internationally. Good luck.
To give a balanced perspective, I will also add that we hired an au pair. So I do have help with twins. I am not a supermom, but I am really enjoying my children. It seems financially reasonable and works out to $8/hour. I can schedule her on weekends and holidays to have some down time with my husband. Au pairs come to the US on a special visa and are like a cross between exchange students and nannies. We have a great bond with ours. From a mother of multiples, this is simply a suggestion of something I found helpful.
I adopted older children (3 of them!) at age 56! Went back 18 months later for #4-so I am the grandma attending parent/teacher conferences as the mom of a 14 yo! I do admit I am running on limited energy, but my son is so glad to have a Mom that it does not bother him that I am older-since he was only 7 when I adopted him he has no other memories of a mother (all were in orphanage for 7 yrs before they came to me). Many challenges and achievements have filled the last 8 years, but I cannot imagine my life any other way!
If you want it, go for it! Life will never be boring or totally peaceful with little feet growing out of their shoes as they run through your life! Many children are waiting for someone to love them as they are and give them homes. It is not for the weak willed, but for the strong in spirit to parent these wonderful (and challenging) children.
God bless you as you consider this trememdous step in your life!
It’s funny because almost 40 seems on the younger side of “old” to me. I had twins at 41 and found it invigorating. I am the eldest of 5 children and my younger sister, now 25, was a surprise pregnancy for my 40 and 44 year old parents. I doubt my mom would be so proficient with technology if it weren’t for the last two kids! She cracks us up with all of her app suggestions. I call HER when I have a computer issue!
Carolyn, it’s funny how things have changed. It used to be we thought of 40 as being over the hill for having kids. Now it almost feels typical.
My husband and I are in the process of adopting 2 girls 6 and 9 . Had them since they were 5 and 8 . I’m gonna be 42 and my husband 51 . All depends on what your heart desires what would take you happy. In my eyes age is not seen by the love you give. We also have a 3 yr old child in our home as well.
Jody, in many ways it surprised me that someone just turning 40 thought she might be too old since not all that infrequently the people asking me that question are in their 50s.
Im 43 and just starting~
I know a ton of people having their first child in their 40s. Nothing wrong with that!