Age you adopted: 44
State of residence: Illinois
Child’s name : William
Current profession: Teacher
How did you arrive at the decision to adopt?
My husband and I met later in life, when I was 37 years old. We got married when I was 41, so we decided to try having a family as soon as possible. It turned out to be more difficult than we had originally hoped, with my age working against me. After trying to get pregnant on our own without any success, we moved on to trying fertility treatments – IUI, IVF three times, and IVF with Donor Eggs. We came close, but I was never able to sustain a pregnancy to full term.
As you can imagine, the emotional and physical roller coaster took quite a toll on me during these processes. Luckily, my husband is a very supportive man, and was always there to simply hold me when I couldn’t help but cry uncontrollably. I never lost hope that I would become a mother, though. I knew deep in my heart that I had so much love to share, and that I would be a great mom.
My own mom has set such a wonderful example of being the kind of mom who could nurture the best in all of us, that I knew I, too, would be successful. Eventually, my husband said, “Maybe it’s time that we move on to the next option for us – adoption.” I had to give up the idea of being pregnant with and give birth to our child.
My supportive sister-in-law (who, coincidentally, was adopted, as well) said, “Being pregnant and giving birth is one year… What you will have with your child is so much more than that.” Once I had that in my heart, I knew that adoption was going to be the right path for us.
ADOPTION-International or Domestic?
Many people have misconceptions about the adoption process in general. Did you have any and what did you learn?
We were definitely inexperienced the first time around, and had a lot of fear of the unknown. The adoption process involves so many decisions, that it can be very daunting to the uninitiated. Our first order of business was to simply find as much information as we could about the process and about agencies. There were so many conflicting reports from different people about which way to do things, which type of adoption – domestic or international, which agency to use, how to go about getting a home study done, etc.
At first, we heavily researched international adoption. The feature that we liked most about going the international adoption route was that it was more-or-less a wait-your-turn type of situation, where you could have a reasonable idea of when you might become parents. We were lucky enough to meet and speak to so many adoptive parents who adopted internationally, so I think we got a good impression about it.
However, after speaking with many international adoption agencies, we found that many of the practices in other countries could feel a little shady, for a lack of a better term. Some countries require that you bring $10,000 to $20,000 in crisp, new $100 bills. That just seemed a little scary to us. We also didn’t want to contribute in any way to child trafficking. This is not meant to be a judgment on anyone else’s decision to adopt internationally. It just wasn’t right for us.
Besides which, another requirement of many international adoptions is to make several long trips to the country… sometimes up to several months. With both of us working, it would have been difficult to take that much time off from our jobs without resigning, or, at the very least, taking a leave of absence.
Making the decision to adopt domestically, though, did carry some scary thoughts, as well. The way that most domestic adoptions work, outside of the foster system where there needs to be a TPR first – Termination of Parental Rights, is that the birth mother or expectant mother chooses you. This means that you have to put together a profile and then put yourself out there. Of course, this is scary, because you think that it may be a possibility that you may never get chosen.
There are also so many other things that you need to think about and determine when adopting domestically. You have to decide which things would fit well with your family and situation, and which things would not, such as: race; gender; whether or not the birth mother smokes, drinks, does drugs, etc.; how much you are willing to pay for the legal living expenses of the birth mother; whether you want a closed, semi-open, or open adoption; and many other factors. We ended up getting chosen four times before we actually got our son.
Traumatic First, Second Letdowns
About three months after we signed with our agency, the first expectant mom chose us. She lived in Oklahoma, though; and on the weekend that we were supposed to call her, there were 16 tornadoes. We never did hear from her, so we wondered if she was ok. That was our traumatic first match.
We got our second match in another three months. We ended up staying in this match with the expectant mom for three months, paying for many of her living expenses through our social workers and agency. However, we kept noticing that many things did not add up with her stories. She lied about so many things to both us and to her social worker. Now, just because an expectant mom lies, doesn’t mean that she is not going to place her child. In fact, this would have been her fourth child placed outside of her home (though we are unclear how many of the placements were intentional adoption plans or if the outside placements could have included the Department of Children and Family Services).
After three months of the lying and the shenanigans, my husband convinced me that this was not the right match for us. I was concerned that our adoption agency would think we were being difficult, and not match us so readily. This situation did seem like a sure thing, considering the expectant mom’s past with placing children for adoption; however, she was so manipulative, that we chose to dissolve the match with her. For us, it was important that we were able to say good things about the birth mother to our child. Also, we knew that if we had a semi-open or an open adoption, that this woman would be in our lives for at least 18 years.
FINALLY A MOM
Meeting Our Son and Birth Mom
I was worried that we would not match again, but I didn’t have to worry long. Only three weeks later, we got a call from our agency about a little boy who was 17 months old. We spoke with the birth mother, and it seemed like a really good fit on the phone, so we decided to visit with the birth mom and meet the little boy two weeks later. Meanwhile, two days after we spoke to the third birth mother, we got a call about a fourth match from an expectant mom. This seemed like a great fit, too. However, since we had already made plans to meet up with the third birth mother and what would then be her 18 month old, we asked the fourth expectant mom if she would be willing to wait for our decision in two to three weeks.
The first night of our visit with the third birth mother, we had dinner together. It was truly like speaking with a long-lost friend. In fact, she said “It feels to me as if you are my brother and sister.” We knew that if all went well the next day, when we met the little boy, that this was the right match for us. Here was a birth mother that we could say nice things about, and whom we wouldn’t mind keeping in our lives.
The second day of the visit, we met with the little boy and the birth mother, and hung out with them for virtually the whole day. It was truly love at first sight, and it just grew from there. We all knew that this was the exact right match for all involved. Three weeks later, our son was in our custody. That’s when our adventure as parents first began. It was not always an easy road, since an 18-month old child is bound to suffer from the emotional trauma of the losses in his life. However, we wouldn’t trade our situation for the world, since we have bonded so well as a whole and loving family.
The next step for us, now that our son has been with us for two and a half years, is to complete our family through adoption one more time, so that our son can benefit from having a sibling. This is very important to us as older parents, as we have to think realistically about how long we will be in his life, and we want the siblings to be able to have each other as family when my husband and I are gone.
What was the reaction of friends and family when you told them about your decision to become a first time over 40 mom?
We were both lucky, in that our family and friends have been super supportive through all our trials and triumphs of becoming parents. I did have many younger friends who were getting pregnant fairly easily, and they were sometimes hesitant to speak to me about their joys. But I have never been one to compare my life to others, and I was truly happy for them. I knew deep in my heart that I would be a great mom, and that my time would come, and the right child for us would come in due time. I was right! Our son is perfect for us. He fits in well with our family and friends, and he even looks like my husband.
What concerns you most about being a mom over 35 and how do you compensate for this concern?
My biggest concern is that I won’t be around for him as long as some of his friends’ parents may be for them. My husband and I are in the process of getting ready to adopt a second child, so that the children will benefit from having a sibling throughout their lives. Of course, I hope that both of us will be around for a long, long time yet, and will get to one day, see our grand-children. One can only hope!
What do you enjoy most about being an older mom?
Like I said before, I think my mom gave us a good foundation of how a mom should be. But I think that being an older mom definitely has it perks. Especially, after 21 years of teaching, I have really learned how to be patient, consistent, and know that not every battle needs to be fought … It’s often better to choose your battles wisely, and let a lot of little things go. I am sure I would have made a great mom at any age, but at an older age, I am probably even better, because I know the value of having a family. After so many trials on our journey to having children, I feel truly blessed to finally have my dreams of motherhood come true.
How has becoming a mom changed you?
Becoming a mom is much like how I expected it to be; though, there are definitely benefits that I hadn’t expected. Do you remember the sheer joy and love of life that you had as a child? But somehow lose as an adult with all the things that have happened to you in life? Well, becoming a mom gives you a window into seeing the wonderment of life as a child. You get to relive the joy and love of life all over again through their interaction with new things and experiences.
I feel so lucky to be able to recapture that feeling, that I hope I will not lose it again. I now know the value of keeping that joy and love of life…and not letting life take any of it from you along the way. I hope that I will be able to help our children maintain this love of life as they grow older, as well.
What advice do you have for women considering motherhood after 35 or 40?
Honestly, I say “Go for it!” Motherhood is pure joy. Even when my son is misbehaving, my heart is still full of love for him. I feel so blessed to have him in my life, and couldn’t imagine life without him anymore.