How Old Is Too Old

How old is too old to adopt an infant ?  This is going to be a tough one for me to have a balanced perspective on.  I came across a plea by an older retired couple for any woman to give up her infant so they could adopt the child as they now have the money and time to devote to the child.

After 10 years of marriage, my husband surprised the heck out of me by saying he decided that he actually did want to become a father.  When we married, he was glad I had been there, done that, and no pressure on him.  I have a grown daughter I birthed at the age of 19 who has made me a grandmother twice.  It is true that I do believe that men who are ready to be devoted fathers are actually better fathers.

My own father, when I told him we were going to try to conceive at our age, told me he questioned my sanity.  That has come back to me repeatedly.  I was 47 when my oldest son was born and 50 when the younger boy came along.  At the age of 60, when he was 10 years old, it really hit me that when he turns 20, I will already be 70.  Oh my.

Adoption is a special circumstance that imposes stricter considerations than assisted reproductive medicine but when I wanted to conceive that second child I was put through a battery of tests to determine if it was actually a good idea to let me.  I passed and the rest is as they say “history”.

Truth is that none of us have a guaranteed length of life.  We are all born to die and not all children’s natural parents live to see them grown.  I know this personally since both of my natural grandmothers lost their own mothers at a young age.  My mom’s mother when she was 11 years old and my dad’s mother at 3 months.

So, I have to believe given my own circumstances and family history that there are more important considerations than longevity.  Financial resources are an important one.  Can the parent provide a safety net for the child if the parent doesn’t live to see the child mature ?  Is the parent responsible enough to make arrangements in a will or trust for their child when it is not yet a mature person.  We have done both.

With the 2008 financial collapse, our business took a significant hit that we have yet to recover from.  Thankfully, we continue to get some business and manage to stay afloat.  Given that our sons are now 19 and almost 16, we do have that hope that we can live a while longer to see the youngest reach the age of 21, at least.

In my own philosophical belief system, children choose their parents before birth with a full knowledge of likely outcomes, though I also believe there is free will that affects trajectories and outcomes.  So I do believe my sons knew what their unique genetic/biological make-up would be and that we would be parents that were old enough to be grandparents.

I don’t regret having children at such an advanced age.  Becoming parents has deepened our life experience as a couple.  Our sons are a joy to share life with.  I don’t think I can be objective about whether older, retired couples should adopt infants.

How Grief Passes Down the Family Line

A dear friend pointed out that I don’t seem to believe I have the right to be a mother.  The circumstances of my life have done this to me.  The tears come.  She was quite perceptive.

She noted that on a photo of my daughter and her family (children and husband) I wrote – that I could take no credit for the wonderful person she is because I didn’t raise her after the age of 3.  My friend noted – When men take your children away they really do a number on women.

This is sadly true and it has happened to me with ALL of my children in one way or another.  So, my ex-husband ended up raising my daughter when my own desperation to financially support us led me to try driving an 18-wheel truck to make some decent money because he simply refused to pay any child support and I wasn’t going to spend my life in court fighting against him.

Truth be told, I never intended for him to raise her.  I left her with her paternal grandmother for temporary care that I had no idea how long that would be needed.  The grandmother could be forgiven for viewing that as my having abandoned her.  That was never my perspective but I can see how it may have looked that way as the days turned into weeks and then months.

That her father could give her a family life with siblings had everything to do with my not even attempting to interrupt that blessing (which is how I saw it though I have learned recently that “blessed” was not exactly how it was experienced by her and more’s the sorrow in this mother’s heart).  She rightly views her step-mother as her mother and who am I to argue with that perception.

Then there are my sons who are donor conceived.  Therefore, I do see them as more rightfully my husband’s than my own.  Again, robbed of my own children by the circumstances of my life which I do not claim that I am a victim of but the one who made every choice to bring these circumstances about.

So I wonder about the grief that is passed down the generations.  Both of my parents were adopted.  Therefore, BOTH of my own grandmothers suffered the same kind of grief I experience and my sisters experience (both of my sisters also lost either by surrendering to adoption or the courts) an opportunity to raise their own children.

The only good thing I can say about it all at this point is that our children have survived and are managing to raise their own children, even a nephew who in a sense is fulfilling my friend’s insight as he has custody of his own son after a divorce.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

 

 

It’s Complicated

I find myself in conversation with a diversity of people about a diversity of issues related to adoption and mother/child separations.  I am always amazed at how many people have some such issue in their family and friend’s lives.

Even though I have had a radical change of heart about adoption due to learning about the wounds that causes, I also acknowledge that the issue is not simple but very complicated.  There are times when children definitely need a safe and loving space to exist in.  There are times, when knowing the circumstances, we can admit that adoption was better than the alternative.

But there always are alternatives and some are less damaging than others.  Harder to arrive at is why people become wounded and messed up.  Why they don’t do better.  Why the children are often the ones to suffer the most.

Learning about all of the circumstances at play in my own family’s lives has given me an appreciation for the big picture and how things progress over time.  I am in the midst of editing a new manuscript that I actually wrote the rough draft for six years ago and then events delayed my return to it.

At this point in the story, I am in heaven.  And the topic of predestination and free will comes up between me and a trusted friend of the heart there.  I think this perspective may be close to the truth of the matter and so, I share –

“Are you telling me that everything is preordained and that I had no choice in how my life unfolded?”

“Absolutely not.  The nature of reality in this realm is that everything is adjusting instantaneously to every choice and circumstance that happens.”

What happens if different choices are made ?

“It would have all morphed and changed to suit new circumstances.  In fact, there are layers upon layers of redundancies. There are trajectories and unfoldings that are the natural outcomes of current events and like your own micro circumstances it is all morphing and adjusting continuously.  There are situations that, if they don’t occur,  could delay your next lifetime.  Other situations could speed up your return to Earth in another incarnation.  We really don’t know the hour of our birth, just as we really don’t know the hour of our death; and yet, it is all completely natural.”

Though Life is so very complicated that any action we may take could be beneficial or detrimental regardless of the best of intentions, even knowing all that could possibly happen that we never considered, we act anyway – for not to act might bring some irreversible harm that could have been prevented.

Mothers Suffer

I have said this before but it bears saying this again.  Giving up one’s child to adoption is not a walk away and all is well process.  Most natural mothers who’s child has been removed from them – whether by choice or coercion – will spend the remainder of their lives regretting the loss.

We are so deeply attached at a genetic and spiritual level to those persons who gave us the gift of life, that there is no true sundering of that bond.  To pretend otherwise, diminishes the pain and suffering that both natural parents and adoptees will carry with them their entire lives.  The relationships that should have been but never will be cannot be recovered down the road.  One can only begin where they find themselves if a reunion occurs and develop whatever relationships they can going forward.

For an adoptee, it can be said that the woman who raises them is their mom.  The woman who created them, is the one who made their life possible.  It is possible and indeed the reality for many people, that there are two true mothers in their life.

Even so, it is not true – that in giving up her child, it was like she took out the trash and never gave it a second thought. As though that were even possible for any mom to feel that way.  I do not believe it.  Many women who surrendered a child were very young when they did that.  They felt they had no choice in the matter.

Today, there are adoptee groups reaching out to unwed pregnant mothers to encourage them to go slow, before giving up their child, and seek a way to work through the circumstances without causing a separation.  I’m on their side in this perspective.

Facing One’s Own Selfish Reasons

It wasn’t God who called upon you to adopt, though you might prefer to believe that.

“I wanted to have a child to love me and I couldn’t seem to have that with my own body.”

“I wanted to do those things with my children that everyone else was doing – the parties, the sports, the performances, the popularity – that some children shine at, and to shine in their reflected glory.”

Stop making God the scapegoat for your own desires. You did what YOU wanted to do for your own selfish reasons.  Before adopting, every couple should first come to terms with the reality of their infertility and then, consider the choices available to them to fulfill their desires.

When my husband finally decided he wanted children after 10 years of marriage, and by then we were already in our forties, it became clear that we could not conceive without assistance; and so, we considered briefly whether or not we should adopt.

We decided against it and now that I know more about everything related, I am glad we made the choice we did, even though it is rather a complicated situation.

Leaving Family And Home

Both of my grandmothers found as they came of age that they had to leave their family and home.  Women in a more stable home environment in the 1930s probably would not have made the choice these women did.

My paternal grandmother, Dolores, certainly wasn’t leaving a place where she felt safe and secure. She was looking for one where she could belong and she found that, I believe, with her Aunt Laura and girl cousins – Gertrude and Eunice.

For my maternal grandmother, Lizzie Lou, once she left her family behind in Eads, there seems to have been no going back for her – even after she lost her daughter and husband. She found a new husband but never had any other children.

For each of them, there was no one to fall back on because they both lost their mothers at a young age.  There was nobody to catch them, it wasn’t an option.  They had to be relatively self-reliant.