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Growing Trend? Empty Nest Adoption

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Adopting Mom Jackie reports: Older couples get a second (and third, and fourth) chance at parenting.

Some parents turn their grown kids' rooms into a gym, sewing room, even a home theater. But more and more families are actually turning them into nurseries.


We've met several Moms lately who--instead of embrace the 'empty nest' when adult kids move out and on with their lives--choose to raise more children. Adoption is a popular choice for Moms like Susan, who adopted son Diego from Guatemala several years after her daughter Jen moved out of the house. Susan and Jen shared their incredible experience with Mom•Logic:

Mom•Logic: What made you decide to become a Mom again 28 years after your first child?

Susan: Something was compelling me--pushing me
forward. I was in my 50s and my husband in his 60s--what a decision to
make! I think for me I'd always wanted another child. I considered
adoption, and then this just took hold. I started researching and it
just fell into place. I had to get my husband on board--I gave him time to really give it consideration before he agreed to it.

ML: Tell us about your experience parenting Diego.

Susan: He fills our lives up. I feel like I birthed him. When it comes to loving my children--it is equal. He's not biologically mine, but he certainly is in the heart. He's so sociable and funny and has the most interesting sense of humor.

ML: What was it like telling your grown daughter she was going to have a brother?

Susan: She was like, 'You're going to do what?' But then she saw his picture and she fell in love immediately.

ML: Jen, what were you thinking when your mother told you?

Jen: Well, I was in complete shock since I was 28 years old, married for two years and hadn't even had my own children yet! My first thought was...Oh My God; has she lost her mind! I am old enough to be this little boy's mother! It was very hard for me at first because I was raised as an only child. But I got over that as soon as I met Diego!

ML: What do you remember about first meeting your little brother?

Jen: He was just turning 5 when he arrived in the United States with my mom and step-dad. I can still remember seeing him for the first time riding down the escalator in the airport--at that point I thought to myself 'This is one of the coolest things that I've ever experienced!'

ML: Was it a tough transition?

Jen: He didn't speak any English at this point, but we bonded just like brother and sister. He has this beautiful spirit filled with love, humor and a passion for life like no one I know! He is truly a gift!

ML: What would you say to others who might be considering adding to the family so late in life?

Jen: Let go of any fear immediately and open your heart to life's greatest gift--a child!

next: Moms Are Talking About...
37 comments so far | Post a comment now
Stephanie Schwartz February 28, 2008, 5:33 PM

I know two women who did the same thing. Very cool story.

Maritza February 28, 2008, 5:48 PM

Wonderful! this story is truly inspiring. Your family has giving this boy one priceless gift love and family.

RealMomsHaveCurves  February 28, 2008, 8:50 PM

Amazing story! I am so glad that you decided to open up your home to a child that needed it. :)

Lynne February 29, 2008, 11:17 PM

As an empty nest adopter myself I am curious about the title of your post: Growing Trend… Do you have data that backs that up - are more couples in their 50’s adopting now than have in the past? Or is it just a hunch because you are acquainted with some? I’m just curious, no criticism of the post title intended. Within the adoption community we are aware of others our age who have or are adopting, but beyond that all of our friends, family, and acquaintances think we went nuts. Our little boy (from Taiwan) is 2 1/2 and we are loving having a little one again!

Sunny March 1, 2008, 8:45 AM

Wouldn’t it be kinder to give money to these children’s families, instead of employing them to fill up time that ought be spent on hobbies? Very selfish.

Anonymous March 1, 2008, 10:19 AM

Lynne, you bring up a good point. I had to check into different options before adopting due to my age. (53 at the time) The agency we finally went through did say that it is more common now for older couples to adopt but also that adoption itself has changed in the past 20 years. So while the trend may be more adoptions in general, older couples would grow with that.

Lillie March 1, 2008, 2:21 PM

I think this trend is a disturbing one. Do any of these people stop to consider the not-so-distant future? Twenty years down the line when these cute little adoptees SHOULD be finishing school and starting their adult lives, they will instead be putting their lives and futures on hold to make end-of-life decisions for these aging adoptive parents. This happened to me at the age of 22; instead of being in college, I was home, caring for my adoptive mother who was dying of cancer (after my a-father had passed away from his fouth heart attack).

Adopting a young child when you yourself are old enough to be this child’s GRANDPARENT is simply out of touch with reality. It is cruel and thoughtless to put this child through what is inevitable 15, 20 years down the line…and after 15 or 20 years of feeling grateful for being saved and given this better life? What child wouldn’t throw his or her future away in order to take care of sick and dying parents?

Forget adopting! Spend more time with your own GRANDCHILDREN, get a hobby, get a DOG. But DO NOT put innocent kids through the heartbreak of having to lose another set of parents so early on in life. It is unfair and completely unnecessary.

Labhrain March 1, 2008, 3:22 PM

This is so unfair to the children. People need to stop thinking in terms of “I want, I want” and trying to justify it as a positive for the others involved.

This is not inspiring. It is sad that people cannot accept and embrace a normal part of the life cycle. Late middle aged and older aged people can contribute to life and enjoy life in so many ways.

Be a grandparent. Enjoy your time with one another. If you really feel the need for another child in your home, be a foster parent. Please don’t make a child be a caretaker for his/her elderly parents at such a young age. It’s just wrong.

Contribute money to the country where these children live so that their homelands can become better places for them.

Labhrain March 1, 2008, 3:33 PM

Sorry about the multiple postings. I accidentally kicked my router, causing my connection to reset a couple of times, hence posting each time it reset.

Megan March 1, 2008, 5:54 PM

Are you saying the kids are better off in foster care or orphanages than losing a parent after decades with them? That seems a bit backwards.

I’m sorry for your loss. Caring for your sick mother must’ve been very difficult. But I think to generalize that parents will get sick and die, therefore shouldn’t adopt children is wrong. If those same parents became “foster” parens, then how is it less painful for a child to be pulled away from those caring foster parents when the time comes. Life is hard. If we can find happiness, if even for a short time, then it makes it all worthwhile. If a chid who’s abandoned enters a family who loves him/her, being happy those formative years is so important.

Adopted Jane March 1, 2008, 9:40 PM

I’m sorry but I am 41 and my son, my second child is about to turn 1
I am a YOUNG 41 year old, I look younger than some Mothers in their 30’s but I find it HARD with a baby and a 4.5yr old. Really hard and I had both of my babies biologically, with NO Assistance, ie the body was still in reproduction years.
But I am Tired and do at times find it hard because of course I do not have as much energy as i would have 10 or 20 years ago.
To have a child, ie start a family, second family, in your 50’s and 60’s is just totally selfish
Just because old rockers Like Rod Steward do it because they marry 30 yr olds doesn’t mean that regular folk should follow suit..besides they have fortunes at their disposable to hire all the help they need…

SELFISH is the only word that sums this scenario up..Why not FOSTER children if you so desperately wish to fill a void ?
Or better yet buy a puppy


Anonymous March 1, 2008, 10:14 PM

what is wrong with you people? the kids already exist on this earth and some live in terrible conditions. So what you’re saying is parents have to be in their 20s and 30s in order to love them correctly? You’re just ignorant. People die. Whether they are 20, 40 or 80. Should we all stop loving other people just in case we die sooner? To tell them to “foster” is just ignorant. You’d rather a child be pulled out of a loving home because someone is older.


Adopted Jane March 2, 2008, 12:07 AM

No Anonymous not just 20’s and 30’s I gave you my example
people have babies biologically in there 40’s after that it RARELY happens naturally biologically so why go against nature ?

Not sure where you are ranting in reference to but no one said about pulling them out of a loving home because they are older, what was said was that people in 50’s and 60’s should not START

Anonymous March 2, 2008, 11:38 AM

it’s about ADOPTION not giving birth.

Rhonda March 4, 2008, 7:05 PM

Wow! I am an adoptive mother of 4 children from China and Korea. Their ages are 8, 6,5 and 2 years old. I am going to be 42 Aug. 2008. I cannot believe the idiots that are stating that adopting at any age is selfish. Thank God we live in America the land of the free! My husband is in the USMC and I hope these same jerks that suggest that anyone who wants to give a less fortunate child a good life for however long they might live are crazy, stupid,selfish etc. thank a service man or woman for giving them the right to express their opinions. Get a life and let others live the way they want to live! Thank God there are people in the world that care about “other people’s children” and want to make the world a better place. BTW-that sounded very liberal which of course I am not. Liberals always like to try and make everyone believe they are the only ones in this world that care about others. Well, that isn’t true either!

Rhonda March 4, 2008, 7:39 PM

I just wanted to add that the short life that we ALL have on this earth isn’t worth living if you don’t help others. Its not all about “saving” kids. There are other reasons but even if that were the only reason then any compassionate, caring human being should be able to understand that. Unfortunately, after reading the comments posted above, the world must be in short supply of those! As a side comment- How sad it is that Lilly is complaining that she must now take care of her mother because she was an OLD adoptive parent. Well that is one of the most pathetic things I have ever heard.

anonymous March 4, 2008, 11:03 PM


I just had to comment that from your post you do not sound like a very compassionate person to me.

Rhonda March 5, 2008, 9:43 AM

Don’t mistake not being compassionate for being passionate.

Megan March 6, 2008, 11:12 AM

I think Rhonda sounds like an exceptionally compassionate person, actually.

Susan Collins May 10, 2008, 4:25 PM

I am Diego’s adoptive mother. He was an older child (almost 6) who was taken to an orphanage by his mother who could not support him. Many people want to adopt infants, so he was in position that he might never be adopted.
I have been a “foster” parent to LaRonda (she was in a residential facility) who I parented from age 15-18. She was cognitively impaired, but has adjusted well considering her challenges. She lives in a group home with other young adults and has a job, paycheck, and fun with life.
I also sponsor a 9 year old girl, Juana, who is living in an orphange.We support her tuition, texts, clothes and recreation.
I have chosen to support children in various ways who otherwise might not have the same opportunties.
The picture of Diego is one taken in Venice, Italy. We plan our activities and travel around providing him with many experiences as an education of the world around us.
We will always help others less fortunate as part of our life purpose.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions and adoption for older couples is certainly not for everyone. At this stage people are entitled to spending their time as they enjoy, whether that is with hobbies and interests- they have earned this. We chose to parent, again.
Giving love to other children, grandchildren, neighbor children or the elderly is needed in our world.

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