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Costa Rica Adoptive Families

Parental Age Exception

We were told about a sibling group of 5 that will be separated soon if no one will adopt them.  WE want to, but we are 65.  The agency is looking into an exception for us.  Is this possible?  Also has anyone adopted from Costa Rica recently?


Unfortunately, VERY few countries will allow people of 65 to adopt.  Some may give exceptions if the husband is that age, but the wife is a good bit younger, as long as there is evidence of ample savings and life insurance, so that if the older parent dies, the younger one can maintain a home for her children.

You have to recognize that, in many countries, people may not live as long as they do in the U.S.  And it is not expected that people in their 60s and 70s will have the energy or resources to be parenting children; in fact, the expectation is often that children will be supporting their parents who reach those ages.  I was lucky to be allowed to adopt my daughter when I was 51 and single, back when China welcomed older and single women.

Now, the good news is that Costa Rica has more liberal adoption requirements than some countries, especially in Latin America.  It allows people to adopt, up to age 60.  Especially if you are open to a sibling group, presumably with school age children, you may be able to get a waiver if you are working with an agency that has a long track record of working with Costa Rica and that is willing to advocate strongly for you with PANI, the country’s Central Authority for adoption under the Hague Convention.

It will be difficult for you to find any previous examples of children adopted from Costa Rica by older parents.  Last year, only 15 children were adopted from Costa Rica by Americans, and some of them were probably relative adoptions.  And that is the largest number of children adopted by Americans over the past seven years.


Posted by sak9645 on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:14am
Posted by sak9645 on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:14am
Posted by sak9645 on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:14am

How old are the children? If one of you dies or fails in health before they are adults is there someone ready to parent them? Planning for the future will I would think help make your point. There will be issues with the children language culture and maybe some delays as well as trauma possibly

Posted by Regina on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:07am

We have six adult children, two of whom, who are in their thirties, are our designated guardians in our wills.  One of them works as a therapeutic nanny, and the other one, who lives with us is a church youth group leader.  We also have a son 13 and daughter 11 whom we adopted from Guatemala when we were 53 and 55.  My husband works from home, and I am a stay at home mom and homeschool our children, so we can travel for extended periods.  My husband speaks Spanish and we study it as a family.  When my husband retires, which he is not planning soon he will have two pensions and social security.  We own a 32 acre farm with low taxes with a large house free and clear and also have another large home with a mortgage that we could sell and live cheaply at our farm if we want to.  We love keeping up with and studying about our Guatemalan children’s cullture and would do the same for children from Costa Rica.  We have been waiting to adopt a sibling group from US foster care, but we heard about this sibling group who will be separated if someone does not adopt them and wanted to help.  Their ages are 12,9,7,5,and 3.

Posted by Dena on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:26am

Forgot to mention we have life insurance that would pay our mortgage and still have $200,000 and that we have done a number of longevity measurements for our age, health, lifestyle, etc. and we are projected to live to be 94 (me) and 90 (my husband).  People are living longer and in better health than ever before.  We are healthy and more active than many people we know who are much younger.  We are very good at raising children and don’t want to retire yet.  All of our adult children are doing very well.

Posted by Dena on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:30am

health and lifestyle plays a part, but genetics and plain old luck affect longevity as well, and I don’t know of any longevity predictor that is accurate. just because your health is good now, doesn’t mean it will be when you are 80 and your youngest is ready to graduate.  you wouldn’t be doing these kids any favors by adopting them only to turn around and make them orphans again in a decade. imagine the pain of being orphaned twice! even if you live to 94, you will likely experience some sort of major illness before that, will you have the energy for young teenagers if you are going through chemo or other treatments? I lost my dad when I was 19 and my mom when I was 22, and it hurts me deeply that my daughter never got to meet her grandparents, that I can’t call them up when I need advice from someone older, that they never got to see what I’ve made of my life. that 3 year old, on his/her wedding day, do you really want him/her to be thinking more than anything else “I wish my mom and dad were here?”  also, i was in the postion of losing my parents then having to decide how to care for my younger siblings. i was pressured into dropping out of college to care for them (I loved them, but didn’t see a future for any of us without college and held firm) and my 17 year old sister ended up raising them. is it fair to ask your older children to put their lives on hold to care for the children you chose to adopt? It’s not what you want to hear and there are those who are going to disagree with me for saying it, but those are my thoughts.  i can understand you still want to parent; there are many older children in the us and abroad who need parents, and there are very young children who need foster parents. perhaps those might be more realistic options.

Posted by rn4kidz on Aug 24, 2016 at 2:53am

I am sorry you had to deal with all that and understand your feelings.  Our kids who are designated guardians are in their thirties and are on board with us.  We have a large, very close, loving family.  Odd these days but that’s how we are.  Our family history of health at older ages and longevity is fine and for us it is, of course, even better.  People are living a lot longer now if they are healthy and have a healthy lifestyle.  We think it is better to have parents for awhile than not at all.  I lost my grandmother who I lived with during the summers at 13, and that was very hard. None of my children ever met her of course, but that is life.  One of my best friend’s father had a heart attack and died while pushing her on a swing when he was 30 and she was six.  All of us have our days numbered. Just because we will be eighty in 15 years does not mean we will be in bad health.  All the older children in our family would be family to any children we adopt.  We have an 11 year old right now, and all of our older children are very close to her.  We have extended family members who are in the custody of their grandfather who is almost 80.  When he dies one of our other kids and her husband will be in charge of them because they have special needs.  This grandfather’s mom is still living in her late 90s.  We prefer to live our lives as a glass half full rather than half empty but do recognize that life on earth is not perfect and that people we love will die some day.  In our state foster parents are expected to agree to adopt their foster children if they become available for adoption.  90% of foster children in this state who are adopted are adopted by their foster parents, and state law pushes that.  There is no discrimination for age in the foster care system.  The children need families.  Would it be better for them or for this particular group we were asked about for us to say no and have them split up or have no family because no one younger wants to adopt them?

Posted by Dena on Aug 24, 2016 at 3:16am

Even though I also was told by one ignorant lawyer that I would never be able to adopt from any country because I was 57, I was able to adopt in my 60’s as a single from Bulgaria.  I was told up to 50 year age difference between parent and child was no problem.  Colombia also sees older parents favorably as well, as long as other requirements are met of course.

I tried to adopt 2 older girls from CR at age 58 and the agency listing them refused saying CR was a slow country, newly opened after the Hague, and had a rigid age limit (forget what it was, I think 60,) so it was questionable whether there was enough time.

I talked to other agencies who wouldn’t accept a single parent in mid 50’s even. So a lot depends on the agency and their policy. Generally studies say that if you have lived a long time your chances of living beyond the norm increase! I even found a program similar to the one you mention that estimated your life expectancy compared to norms using many factors, but the agencies who were rigid did not budge.

I’d let the agency check - it is worth a try as 5 siblings is a very hard family to place and they might well make an exception for you, especially if you explain who might step in if you have health problems and the other factors you just did. Also your previous experience adopting older children may help.

I do believe it is important to think long and hard, and factor in a big margin of time. But I know so many people who died in their teens, or twenties, or 30’s, or even one young adoptive couple who both died of illness within a few years of adopting. Yet, I have a friend who inspired me as in his late 60’s he fought in court (and won the right) to adopt a relatives newborn girl being horribly abused. Twenty years later he is still active, now helping his daughter raise her own child!

Posted by Happy Camper on Aug 24, 2016 at 4:17am
Posted by Happy Camper on Aug 24, 2016 at 4:17am

Thank you Happy Camper!  We have done the longevity measurements that take all kinds of factors into account.  For example I was last pregnant naturally at age 49 and went through menopause at 57.  That means your body is young for its age.  US foster care has no age restriction.  The workers ideal adoptive parent for foster care is the child’s grandparent if possible, and they are usually our age.  You have made my day!  I am so sick of arguing about this.  I have a very busy, active life and still get acne, so I don’t understand why I can’t adopt a youngish child who is part of a sibling group when I am expected to do what I do every day and will be expected to do for a long time and actually enjoy it.  My dad always said when you retire you die.  I agree. I can have a lot of help if I want it too, because with a big family our 6 adult children like to help.  I am sorry more people don’t have that, but people and families are not cogs!  I haven’ t heard back from the agency, and this will probably not work out, but we would do it if we were approved.  If not we will probably adopt from foster care in our state which also needs families for sibling groups and does not practice age discrimination.  They are glad to have us and it is a lot cheaper and easier.  We just want to help this particular sibling group if we can in spite of how hard it would be.

Posted by Dena on Aug 24, 2016 at 5:09am

I have no problems at all with older parents who are as well qualified as you are.

But I am not the government of Costa Rica, just a happy old Mom of 70, with a 20 year old daughter.

As I mentioned above, there are many countries where only young prospective parents are accepted.  In many cases, the laws exist because people of 65+ in that country rarely maintain their health and vigor, and rarely live much beyond that age.  In others, the laws exist because the authorities feel that adoptive parents should fit the same profile as biological parents, especially those who have not used any assisted reproduction techniques, such as IVF. 

Some countries have laws and policies “set in stone”, and make few or no exceptions, at least for certain adoption requirements.  As an example, while China has granted exceptions to its family size and certain other requirements, its laws make it absolutely impossible for the country to place a child with a foreigner who is not yet 30 years old.  In fact, it will not even accept paperwork from a couple if one spouse is 29 and the other is 30; both spouses must have reached age 30 when the paperwork was submitted.

A good agency with long experience in a country can often tell you whether there is any “wiggle room” in a particular country’s requirements.  The problem in your case is that there are very few American agencies working in Costa Rica, and very, very few Costa Rican children who have been adopted by non-relative Americans. As a result, most agencies simply won’t have dealt with enough requests for waivers, to know how Costa Rica is likely to react to your application.

However, if you are working with a top-notch agency that has an excellent reputation and lots of experience doing international adoption from other countries, and if the agency is strongly supportive of your candidacy, it “may” be willing to advocate for you with Costa Rica’s Hague authority.  It’s worth talking with your agency to see if it can, at least, find out if there’s any chance that your application could be accepted, or if there’s no point in having you spend the time and money necessary to prepare an application, because the authorities will not even look at it.

Remember that an international homestudy won’t meet the requirements for a foster care adoption in the U.S., and that international adoption requires an expensive USCIS approval process.  It also requires country-specific dossier preparation activities, fees payable to the foreign country, fees for the agency’s foreign program, and so on.  So if you could find out, before submitting an application, whether you have any chance of approval, you could be saving yourself a lot of time and money.


Posted by sak9645 on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:18pm
Posted by sak9645 on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:19pm
Posted by sak9645 on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:19pm

Thank you for the information.  We have adopted internationally several times and are aware of the differences in home studies.  We have a foster care adoption home study currently and have been waiting to adopt from foster care for 5 years.  We found out about these Costa Rican children from another foster care adoption parent.  We have been communicating with the State Dept., the NYC Costa Rican Consulate, LAPA (Latin American Parents Association which we belonged to in the past) and the children’s agency.  Their attorney is meeting with PANI this week and asking about an exemption for us, so we are waiting to hear back about that. We would have to get a Hague compliant home study, complete a dossier, etc. if approved.  Does anyone have a list of agencies with experience in Costa Rica?

Posted by Dena on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:07pm

PANI is the best place to go for information about American agencies authorized to place children from Costa Rica with U.S. families.  Here is the contact information for PANI:

Patronato Nacional de La Infancia (PANI)

P.O. Box 5000-1000
San Jose, Costa Rica
Tel: (506) 25230794
Fax: (506) 25230895
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

You can then verify that the agencies on the list are Hague-accredited by going to, the U.S. State Department’s adoption website, which maintains an up-to-date list of all agencies that are Hague-accredited in the US.


Posted by sak9645 on Aug 25, 2016 at 2:58am

Sounds like you are covering all your bases, doing all you can. You might also look at http://www.rainbow You can pull up a list of all agencies that deal with any specific country. Then easily check each individually to be sure Hague certified and contact the ones that sound good to get further info. I hope it works out for you and those kids.You are right that foster agencies usually are more open minded and discriminate less re age. Good luck!

Posted by Happy Camper on Aug 25, 2016 at 12:20pm
Posted by Happy Camper on Aug 25, 2016 at 12:20pm

I heard back from the agency today that we were not given permission by PANI, but the worker also said they also had not gotten approval for a couple who were 53 even though the stated age limit is 60.  I have now heard of another family who were not approved for no apparent reason.  It sounds like the Costa Rican adoption authority is very selective, and they must approve individually approve all families.  That must make it tough for hard to place children to have a family.

Posted by Dena on Aug 25, 2016 at 10:51pm

I am so sorry that the sibling group in Costa Rica won’t have the benefit of being parented by you. 

I do hope that you will find another group of children that needs parents like you. Are you working only with foster care agencies in your state, or are you considering children in other states?  It’s hard to imagine that you have been waiting five years, when there are so many sibling groups, older children, and children with special needs in the system and you are open to challenges that few other families will consider, such as a group of five children.


Posted by sak9645 on Aug 26, 2016 at 2:32am

That is too bad. I think Sak is giving you good advice to check outside your state.

Have you looked on Wednesdays Child or especially There are many kids free for adoption. Especially if you are looking for sibling groups. (a quick search there brought up 15 groups of 3 - 5 siblings needing adoption with the youngest being 5 or over). You can also contact other states photo lists thru their site.

I’d also see if your social worker could contact some of the states that have sibling groups needing adoption. Knowing how overloaded the state social workers often are, you may have better luck doing the initial leg work and searching yourself.

Posted by Happy Camper on Aug 26, 2016 at 2:58am
Posted by Happy Camper on Aug 26, 2016 at 2:58am

It may not at all be about you or other American prospective adoptive families, but about the children and their circumstances. You didn’t say what the ages are of this group, but if one is, say, an older teenager or approaching legal age in Costa Rica, they may want to keep the family together and have the older child assume guardianship. Or although they may have to be separated in different homes they would still be near one another, able to maintain contact, and still be in their own country with their own language and their own culture, school, friends, extended family..
I don’t know what PANI is thinking or how it operates but I suspect that approving adoption out to the US is low on the priority list.

Posted by Maryam on Aug 26, 2016 at 3:06am

Just wondering, how do you know the children would be split up?

Posted by AMD on Sep 15, 2016 at 3:12am

We have been trying to adopt nationally from foster care.  We have been matched several times mostly with larger groups of younger children, partly because we have now 11 and 13 year olds, and social workers do not like to match a family with kids older than those in the home already.  We were matched with a few sibling groups of five.  None of the cases worked out for one reason or another.  if you know anything about adopting from US foster care, you know it is not fast or easy.  We moved last year and have to get a new home study as a result.  We are having trouble finding an agency, but have an appointment next week that looks promising.  Some private agencies age discriminate even though it is not a requirement for foster care, and we have talked to some that do that. 

The Costa Rican children we tried to adopt are together in an orphanage.  The oldest is 12.  Their agency was told they would be separated if a home was not found for all of them together soon.  Last week the agency emailed me that they have found a family that Costa Rica is willing to approve for them.

Posted by Dena on Sep 15, 2016 at 3:39am

Well that’s good news for those kids… or at least hopefully it is and they are not being sold into some kind of servitude.

Posted by Happy Camper on Sep 20, 2016 at 1:15am

Well that’s good news for those kids… or at least hopefully it is and they are not being sold into some kind of servitude.

Posted by Happy Camper on Sep 20, 2016 at 1:15am

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