Parenthood is a bit like running a marathon. It’s a long, tiring, intensive journey, and can be one of the most rewarding experiences in any person’s life. Watching a child grow and mature before your eyes is a magical experience. But just like a marathon, as one ages parenting becomes more and more difficult and, at some point, not advisable.
The question to be asked here is this: “How old is too old to be a parent?”
There are two main avenues for becoming a parent, the first being birth and the second being adoption. We’ll address the issues and complications with delayed parenthood for both of these cases in this article.
Some adoption agencies set an upper limit on how old parents can be to adopt a child. For example, many agencies typically don’t work with parents older than 50 years old. Some do this because they require their prospective parents to be open to semi-open adoption, which most birth mothers choose. This allows them to visit their children and correspond with them occasionally.
However, parents can still find a way to begin parenthood at 40, 50 or perhaps even 60. But there are some important ethical questions that are raised for becoming a parent at such a late age. Parents should hope to be around as their children get older, and see their children’s marriages and one day become grandparents. Becoming a parent at older than 40 doesn’t give yourself much time to fully enjoy the fulfillment of being a grandparent, especially given falling life expectancy in the United States.
The average age for adoptive couples is between 43 and 44 in the U.S., which can be considered an upper bound for the recommended age. Younger parents have more energy and are more able to handle the intensive care that children, especially young children, require.
Another factor to keep in mind when considering your age and adoption is if you’re willing to have a special needs child. Some special needs children may require care well into adulthood, which may be difficult if you’re adopting at a later age yourself.
No Magic Number
At the end of the day, there is no specific age at which one becomes too old to become a parent. Talk with a doctor or parenting specialist and consider your and your partner’s personal health when deciding if you should begin the parenthood journey.