My husband and I were trying to figure out "what to do with our lives" after our youngest and last of our six adult daughters moved into her own home. We both had good jobs, good health and a little bit more energy left. Our good friends prayed with us about what to do next. "Coincidentally, we were studying The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. So my husband, Bob, and I worked through the usual list that people have when approaching this time of life as empty nesters: cruises, vacations, buying a motor home, moving to a smaller home in a more affordable area, retiring! But, none of these ideas seemed to be "the one".
One day after church, some good friends introduced us to a couple our own age. Little did we know that God's plan for us was about to be revealed! This couple also had biological children that had moved on in life, as did ours. Five years prior to our meeting them, they had adopted two siblings from Russia. We listened to their story about how this came to be as we watched their tears of joy stream down their faces. Bob and I walked out of church, looked at each other, said, "We can do that". The rest is history. Eight months later, after lots of paperwork, we were in China to adopt our son. David is now 15 years old and has been our son for a little over 7 years. I have never regretted, even for a moment, adopting David.
Each of us has one life to live, to make a difference. We older parents have wisdom that younger parents have not yet earned. Bob and I have found that we have much more patience to offer David than we did to our other children (just ask some of our daughters!); we have a keener understanding of what is and is not important in the big scheme of things. We don't sweat the small stuff. We know that God put David and us together. David needs us and we need him. Bob and I are much better people now, we appreciate every small blessing. I think we are better role models for our daughters.
It is ironic to think that Bob and I thought we had the experience to raise an adopted son since our daughters turned out pretty well. Little did we know that David would come to us with challenges we had never experienced before. Truthfully, every child that comes into a family, either through birth or adoption, brings their own joys and challenges. But really, the experience of having parented gave us the insight and patience to deal with anything that came our way. We had so much to give, and were sometimes suprised by the joys that we received in return.
From our own personal perspective of parenting through birth and later through older-child adoption, I believe that adopting an older child is not for sissies. I would encourage first time parents to consider infants or toddlers. Younger children require a great deal of energy and stamina, but the learning curve is longer with a very young child. We experienced parents are better-suited for older children. Mainly because we are more mature, with life experiences that gives us a perspective that is very different than we might have had when we were just starting out. That experience means that we aren't likely to worry too much about what Ms. So-and-so down the street thinks about our parenting methods. Our identity as parents isn't tied to our child having the best grade point average or the science project that wins a national award. Our expectations revolve more around creating a secure, kind, and emotionally healthy son. Yes, we are older, but also so much wiser.
Every day, we do the best we can and are content. We are a happy family: all 26 of us: Mom, Dad, our son David, 6 daughters, 4 sons-in-law, 13 grandkids. Think of the family David now has. If he was still in his orphanage, he would not know love. He would belong nowhere, and would have been tossed out of the orphanage and put out on the street to be exploited, or worse, and very much alone. That is the reality for children who age out of government care in every country (including the USA). Children who enter adult life without the connection to a family are lost. They are the human-strays of life, and it is heart breaking. We, our entire family, have been blessed by David. We did not set out to save him. We were experienced parents who recognized that adoption could be a good choice for us and for a child who needed a family. But it has turned out that we have all saved each other in a way. Isn't that what family is all about?
No vacation or retirement home can compare to saying 'yes' to adoption. Please consider sharing the gifts God gave you with a child who will otherwise not think he is worth loving. It will be the best choice that you will ever make.
Contributed by Children's Hope International. Learn more about adopting after age 50 on their special area: The 'Do Over' Club- Adoption . The members of CHI's Late Start / DoOver Club are often parents who raised their kids and were left with energy and expertise and no more kids to benefit from their talents. What to do? Why, do it all over, of course! Let some new kids benefit from all the lessons learned raising the first batch.
Some of our Late Starts are folks who just weren't in a position to have kids until later in life. Time, finances, and fortune just didn't come together until later than expected. Courage came into the mix, and now, better late than never, they are at long last parents!