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Creating a family after 50

Hello all.

I’m new to the community and have just started my path to adoption via DCF in Massachusetts. I’m 57yo, a single mom to be, no other children. My intent is to foster/adopt an older child (or sibling group?), preteen up to 21. Age is not as important to me as a good healthy match is, but I’m really hoping for a daughter.

So far, I don’t know anyone personally who is in my shoes. Now that I’m here, I’m hoping to connect with other older moms/dads and/or any parents who have adopted older children.

Very happy to be here, as I’m trying to be as prepared and as cautious as possible.

Look forward to hearing from you.


Welcome and bless you for choosing teens and/or siblings.  Those are the hardest to place. 

I’m not exactly in your situation as I had one bio and adopted my 2 great nieces who came at ages 3 and 7 but I am hitting 49 this year and feel the challenges of having younger children.

By choosing a sibling group you are very likely to get the daughter you want and give her a sense of family by adopting her siblings also.  Don’t get discouraged and enjoy the journey with your new family when it happens.  My aunt is raising a teen in her 70s and it has worked out fine.

Posted by C3 on May 15, 2017 at 5:39pm

Good afternoon and congratulations!  I finally realized my dream of many years - adoption - of 8 yo twins (one of each so I share that we are balanced) at the age of 52.  They are now 12 and I am now 55 and single with no family support near by. I mention this only because I want to share that it can be done!

Ours was an international adoption, and while physically and mentally they are “healthy”, emotionally they have had many struggles.  However, I am delighted to report that we are on relatively smooth ground now, hopefully building moral integrity for the future, and I would not trade them for anything.

They attend an awesome school, we initially held them back one year so they are now finishing up 5th grade, and while they are below average with emotional and behavioral maturity we have made so much progress that they are unrecognizable from just a few short years ago.

Best wishes with your journey, it is challenging and can be done - I have a very different life now and would never go back.  We are on the West Coast and it looks like you are on the East Coast, but if you ever would like to speak, please just PM me.

Posted by Anne333 on May 15, 2017 at 9:41pm

Hello!  We aren’t exactly in your situation either, but have adopted two sibling pairs, ten years apart, first in our early forties and then in our early 50s.  We also have three bio kids interspersed among them.  Our kids were 9 and 14 and 10 and 12 when they came to us.  It has worked out well, though of course there have been bumps along the way.  But there are bumps in any family, whether kids come by birth or by adoption.  The issues faced, though, by older kids whose birth families have been ravaged by the parents’ inability to parent, are real.  Be sure to read up on all the issues… loss and grief, and the importance of maintaining contact with other siblings…

But take heart!  There are wonderful kids out there. 

People are open to varying degrees of ‘issues’—medical, emotional, behavioral or otherwise…  We were very careful to stick with what we felt we could handle well, and were very careful to take the matches that felt right—which in our cases were not the first match social workers came up with. Case workers are eager to find families for the older children and sibling sets on their list, and it’s crucial that parents not feel pressured to take the very first ‘match’—unless YOU feel it is a match.  I wish you the best on this exciting journey!

Posted by VintageMom on May 16, 2017 at 1:15am

I became a mom of a four year old (now five) boy at 55.  I adopted from Second Chances.  Fortunately, no problems for us.  I am looking for siblings for him and I too want a girl and am looking abroad or from cps this time unless a situation presents itself.

Posted by Volunteerchild on May 16, 2017 at 2:09am

I adopted my daughter from China when I was almost 51 and she was 18.5 months old.  She was very tiny, had multiple minor illnesses, and had feeding issues.  Because of her small head circumference and very low weight, my pediatrician counseled me to expect learning issues and other challenges.

Well, that was one embarrassed doctor.  She turned out to be way ahead of the game intellectually. After a slow start, she began to gain a little weight and to move through her milestones beautifully.  She started kindergarten at an academically enriched private school when she was only 4, and fit in perfectly.  She was a huggy/kissy/smiley child who developed strong attachment and formed friendships easily.

Becca has now turned 21, and just graduated from a prestigious university, where she majored in economics and did a research project that her professor wants to publish.  She has already signed an agreement to join a highly regarded economic consulting firm, this summer.

Though she remains tiny, she is totally healthy, and enjoys running and workouts at a gym.  She lives on her own and supports herself; her college gave her much financial aid while she was a student.  She has been dating the same young man for over three years and they have a very caring relationship.  She has good values, doesn’t do drugs, drinks an occasional glass of wine, and doesn’t go to wild parties. 

She had one bout of depression in high school, but it quickly came under control with medication.  She has had no recurrences, is not currently taking medication, and has occasionally seen a therapist briefly when she has felt stressed.  Basically, she handles life well and with a degree of maturity and common sense that is quite remarkable.

Frankly, parenting my daughter turned out to be way easier than I expected, even though I was a single older Mom.  Sure, I had less money, less sleep, and less time for myself, but those were small sacrifices to make for the pleasure of parenting my amazing child. 

I’m 71 now.  I hope I’ll have the privilege of being part of Becca’s life for quite a while longer.  But if something happens to me, I feel confident that she will have the strength and skills to carry on and handle life’s challenges.  We have also built a support network that, I hope, will assist her, as needed, if I am no longer around.

Now, I can’t guarantee that you will receive a child as amazing as my daughter.  But if you are well prepared to adopt, work with a good agency that supports you and your child both before and after the adoption and is always honest with you, build a network of friends and relatives that can help out in tough times, and make a few sacrifices to give your child the best possible chance of becoming an independent and productive adult, both you and your child are likely to do well.

A couple of hints from experience:

1.  Parenting your adopted child is likely to get expensive, and money worries make parenting way more difficult than it should be.  Make a game plan.  What will you do if you lose your job and can’t find another for six months?  What will you do if the local schools don’t meet your child’s needs?  What will you do if you have to go to the hospital for a few days?  What will you do if your child needs much better health services than any subsidy can provide?  How will you handle day care?  Consult with a financial planner, if appropriate, to help you ensure that money won’t be your biggest worry.

2.  Get the best health insurance you can afford for your child.  Yes, if you adopt through the state, there may be a subsidy for medical care, but it may not cover adequately the sorts of things that adopted children often need, such as trauma-informed mental health services.  The good news is that, if you have a group policy through an employer that’s not too small, it MUST cover kids from the date of adoption or placement for adoption, and it MUST NOT have exclusions or limitations for pre-existing conditions.  Just remember to contact your employer and insurer, in writing, within 30 days of the adoption or placement for adoption to notify them of the situation, or you won’t necessarily be covered.

3.  If you don’t have a lot of close friends and relatives, begin to broaden your social support system now, before you adopt.  Do nice things for others, and they will be more likely to help you out later.  There are going to be lots of times when you need someone to laugh with, someone on whose shoulder you can cry, someone who can babysit at a moment’s notice because of an emergency, someone who can run to the store for a couple of things, someone with whom you can have an adult discussion when your brain feels that it is turning to mush.

4.  If possible, identify a safe adult who shares a lot of your views, and to whom your child can turn if he/she ever feels that he/she can’t tell you something, but has a problem.  I have been lucky; my daughter and I have always been able to communicate freely on tough topics.  But in case your communication breaks down at some point, your child will need someone else to whom she knows she can turn.  A close female friend who is also an adoptive parent has been my designated alternate.  My daughter used her only once that way, more to get a second opinion, as we had already been talking and I was present during the conversation between them.

5.  All kids, both boys and girls, need role models of both genders.  It’s often tough for singles to provide good, safe, decent role models of the opposite gender, but it has to be done.  Consider relatives, friends, ex-boyfriends, spouses of friends, teachers, or whatever.  Little girls need to play out their Daddy/daughter fantasies, even if they don’t have a Dad, for example, in order to grow up with healthy attitudes about men, so you’ll need someone who has a great sense of humor, who understands kids, who can teach appropriate boundaries, etc.  I had picked out several possibilities for my daughter, and she liked them, but ultimately, her favorite male role model became the husband of a couple that took care of her when I had to go to the hospital for a week; she is 21 now, and still keeps in touch with him, and they have the sweetest, most appropriate relationship..

6.  All kids who are not of the same race/ethnicity as their parents do best when exposed to many good people of their race/ethnicity, and to multi-cultural families.  If you are likely to be adopting transracially, make sure that your child will know other families where members are of more than one race.  If your child will be Black and most of your friends and neighbors are White, consider moving, or joining a more integrated house of worship, or getting involved in activities where you can become friends with more Black families, or all of the above.  While race is clearly a big issue in our country, remember that kids also do better if they know people who are like them in other ways.  As an example, a two-Mom family should know other two-Mom families and other families where a typical Mom-Dad-kid situation does not prevail.  A trans kid needs to know other trans kids and adults.  A kid in a wheelchair needs to know other families where kids or parents are in wheelchairs or have other challenges, etc.

7.  Get the best possible education for your child—one that will help him/her achieve his/her fullest potential.  Frankly, that may mean private school or a school in another district, in the case of many adopted kids.  Obviously, try to get all the help you can in your local public schools, if cost is an issue, but be prepared that it may not be sufficient.  I was lucky in that my daughter’s “challenge” was that she was unusually bright—at least four years ahead of her peers in public school, by the time she was a young teen—but I had to pay a lot, and ask for a lot of financial aid to get her into a school where she could blossom intellectually, emotionally, and socially—AND have the values education that I wanted for her.  Your child’s challenge(s) may be a problem with quantitative reasoning, or difficulty focusing, or social isolation, or impulsivity, or OCD; whatever it is, seek the best possible education geared to maximizing his/her potential.  Be his/her advocate. Know what’s out there to help.  And dare to dream.

8.  Recognize that parenting doesn’t stop when a child reaches 18.  (My daughter’s 21 and lives out of state, doing very well, but I still wind up on the phone with her at 2 a.m. sometimes.)  Your child may or may not be ready to go to college, get a job, live in an apartment or dorm, or whatever.  Your job is to TRY to prepare him/her for the normal route to independence, but to recognize that it may not work and that you may have to seek some alternative paths for him/her.  No, you may not be able to retire and travel or whatever, even if you have enough money left to do so.  Now, in some cases, you may have to practice some “tough love”.  If your young adult child knows how to conform to society’s norms, but chooses not to do so, you may have to say, “Look, if you are going to continue using drugs and hanging out with druggies, even after I’ve paid for several rounds of rehab and you’ve sworn you were getting clean, you can’t live here.”  But that’s parenting, too, and you may have to help him when things get too out of hand.

9.  A guardianship plan is a necessity when your child is under 18, and a darn good idea afterwards if your adult child has special challenges.  None of us know, when leaving the house in the morning, whether a fuel truck will collide with our car, a deranged person will mistake us for the Devil and come after us with a knife, the bridge we cross on our way to work will fall down, or our routine medical appointment will reveal that we have cancer.  Even young married people should have guardianship plans in place for their minor children, as a result, but it is an absolute necessity for an older single parent to have one.  Unless you want your child to wind up in foster care (again) or being raised by someone whose values you don’t share and who won’t give your child the support he/she needs, pick someone carefully, and make sure that he/she agrees to serve as guardian.  And if your child winds up needing a lot of support after age 18, try to make a plan for his/her care in a family if something happens to you, so he/she won’t need to go into an institution.  Talk to an attorney, and make sure that you have a will and a guardianship plan in writing and easily retrievable if the worst comes to pass.  The good news is that you may never need to use your guardianship plan; you probably will stay healthy until you are 90 and your child is 40 and self-sufficient.  But the bad news is that failure to create a guardianship plan, and to talk openly about it with your child as he/she grows, potentially undercuts all the good work you have done to make sure that your child is raised well and feeling secure.  Every child asks, at one time or another, “What will happen to me if you die?”  You need to have some clear and specific answers, even as you reassure him that you plan to live a very long time.  In my case, I had a guardianship agreement with a couple, in which the wife was the granddaughter of my mother’s brother.  I think that makes her a second cousin or something like that.  This couple shared my values and family traditions, and has done a marvelous job of raising twin sons, one of whom was born with a heart issue; the boys are a few years older than my daughter, and one is getting married this summer.  The couple happens to have sufficient financial resources that I would never have to fear that they would use any money I left my daughter for their own benefit.  And they always wished they could have a baby girl as well as their two boys, but could not risk another pregnancy for medical reasons.  In short, they were a perfect choice, but they never had a chance to be Becca’s guardians, as I am still alive and well at 71.

Now that I have scared you silly about adoption, please take a deep breath and remember that, for most of us parents, adoption is a joy and a blessing.  It gives us the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream, and maybe even to change the world, as our child grows up and contributes to society.  It gives a child who got a rough start in life a chance to turn things around and achieve his/her potential.  And, although it often comes with some hard times, I’ve got to say that for me, and for many people I know, the raising of an adopted child has turned out to be, well, a lot of fun.  There’s nothing like a child’s laugh to brighten a home.

Posted by sak9645 on May 17, 2017 at 12:48am


What a lovely wise posting from Sak! You have basically what you need for your whole daughters life there!! smile 

Are you in Western MA or Eastern? One fantastic resource, but unfortunately only available after adoption due to their grants, is Adoption Journeys.They have all kinds of cultural activities for families who have adopted including many for teens, support services, and parent support groups of many types (Mixed groups,Singles, children with attachment issues, those who have adopted teens, Fathers, etc…)

I was your age when I started down the same route though hoping to adopt internationally. I had to change countries, and also several times, home study agencies (agencies either lied or closed in several cases). I eventually ended up with great agencies in both cases, and adopted my daughter at age 15, when I was in my 60’s! We’re the right family for each other, but it has been intense, it definitely would have been easier in her case to adopt much younger as she has significant medical and attachment issues from many years without family, in orphanages.

Definitely my advice would be to build your community of support of adoptive families any way you can….tell friends, volunteer, ask your home study agency for references of similar people who’ve adopted as well as groups and call them etc. Also if you may be adopting transracially build your own knowledge and friendships with others in other cultures.

Feel free to come on here any time, or pm me, and good luck to you!

Posted by Happy Camper on May 18, 2017 at 12:28pm

Just catching up, and I really appreciate all of your responses.  I have visions of beautiful families here, and learning about some of the challenges.

To Anne333, I’m in your shoes as well. While I do have family nearby, it’s not the kind of family that will be helping me out at all. Your statement about life being very different now but never wanting to go back, very encouraging.

I announced my plans this week to my sister, who is a mom to my teen niece, and she mentioned that adoption, to her, ‘would be like babysitting someone else’s kid’. Her daughter then shared her concern that she wouldn’t want my child to attend her same school and she doesn’t want to ever babysit. I don’t begrudge them for their views, but it does reinforce for me that I need to look elsewhere for my support, and I’ve decided their views will help prepare me for tolerance of the real world. I ended our conversation humorously by asking them both if maybe I wasn’t really related to them.

Posted by JMD15 on May 18, 2017 at 4:12pm

More later….

Posted by JMD15 on May 18, 2017 at 4:15pm

So very sorry to hear of your family response.  While my family resides on the other coast, the initial response was VERY mixed.  I will share that everyone now embraces my children as equal parts of the family when we visit, it just took time for some (particularly my mother) to adjust to the concept.  I would offer to be patient and not react or respond to negative comments, “advice”, or whatever may be said - I simply acted like they had always been part of the family, and over time the acceptance has come.  Praying for much happiness for you and your soon to be child.

Posted by Anne333 on May 18, 2017 at 9:36pm

Another reply is say I used to feel a little bit the same but I’ve learned that people who adopt are as close to their adopted children as their biological children. Then ask if she ever plans to marry, or have a close relationship with someone else,?  Even if that person is not related by blood?!

I’d definitely say something to your niece too. “So do you not speak to anyone in your school who isn’t related to you?” Or “I’d be sad if you didn’t want to be close with our family any more, we’d really miss you.”

Posted by Happy Camper on May 19, 2017 at 12:51pm

I am 51 turning 52 in July. We are completing our home study and applying to adopt siblings internationally - a boy age 6 and a girl age 9. It’s never too late to adopt. I was worried about my age too but there are so many older children who need homes. Most people wants babies and toddlers. You are doing a wonderful thing by adopting teens. You should definitely be able to get a teenage girl. We originally started with the plan to adopt through the US foster care system but we had a lot of trouble with the social workers so we switched to international adoption. We saw so many teenagers who needed homes. As long as you can hang in there and be patient with the bureaucracy of the US foster care system and try to find a good agency and a good social worker to represent you, that will make it a lot easier. Hopefully, your state’s foster care system will be better than mine.

Posted by RedSunRising on May 19, 2017 at 7:22pm

Always remember that, just as your adopted child won’ t share your genes, your support network doesn’t need to be composed of people who are biologically related to you. It is perfectly OK to have a circle of friends who function as honorary family members—people with whom you spend holidays like Thanksgiving, other adoptive parents, folks from your religious organization, a person you have known since you were in second grade, the old woman whom you help with snoshoveling and who treats your kids like her grandchildren,  etc.  In my case, my parents had passed away before I adopted, and I had no siblings, thoug I had a great many cousins, including several to whom I was close.  An important part of my social support network became the people who traveled to China to adopt through our agency, at the same time as I did.

Posted by sak9645 on Jun 04, 2017 at 3:22pm

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