While marrying young and starting a family early were once considered the norm, many Americans are now entering midlife without ever having experienced the satisfaction of raising a child. For some, not having children during their twenties or thirties was a deliberate choice to give them time to find the right partner or advance a successful career. For others entering into midlife without having children may have been the result of a failed marriage, infertility or some other issue that prevented them from having a child. If you are now approaching or in the midst of your forties, fifties or even sixties and find yourself yearning for the opportunity to be a parent, rest assured it is not too late to pursue your dream.
The surrogacy route to parenthood is becoming more common in the United States. Surrogacy offers two forms, one known as traditional and the other gestational. Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate mother's own eggs are inseminated with either the prospective father's sperm or that of a donor. Gestational surrogacy differs from traditional surrogacy in that the gestational surrogate mother bears no genetic relationship to the child she carries for the prospective parents, who either provide the egg and sperm for the procedure or have chosen to use donors for one or both.
Although recent statistics are difficult to obtain, it is estimated that gestational surrogacy alone produced approximately 1,593 children in 2011. This trend is believed to be growing rapidly as the science involved becomes more advanced and leads to more successful births. Surrogacy is a good choice for prospective parents who have time to nurture a child from birth through adulthood, as well as the emotional and financial resources needed to find a surrogate and pay for the cost of the procedures involved.
Becoming foster parents is another way to experience the joy of parenting and it is particularly well suited for those who may now be finding themselves in their fifth or sixth decade of life without having been a parent. Unlike surrogacy which can take years and thousands of dollars to arrange, it is possible to become a foster parent very quickly and with little or no financial investment. In most states, prospective foster parents must take a parenting course and submit to evaluations of their home, health, finances and character. Because foster parents are desperately needed in many areas of the country, it is likely that successful applicants could begin fostering children within months of their initial application.
Adoption is a another excellent way to become a parent, especially if you are willing to consider adopting an older child or children. According to information provided by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), there are nearly 108,000 children currently waiting to be adopted throughout the United States. The procedure to become an adoptive parent is relatively simple, inexpensive and includes most of the same steps as becoming a foster parent.
When considering adoption, prospective adoptive parents may hear terminology that may be confusing, such as:
- open adoption - an adoption where one or both birth parents retain some level of access to the child
- closed adoption - an adoption in which ties to the birth parents are severed and no identifying information is provided to either the birth parents or the adoptive family
- independent or private adoption - an adoption arranged by a private attorney, instead of through a licensed adoption gency
- foster to adoption - an adoption that originally culminates from fostering a child until they become eligible for the actual adoption process
- agency adoption - an adoption arranged by an adoption agency that is specially licensed and trained to oversee the entire adoption process
Adoption, particularly the adoption of an older child, is an excellent way to experience the joy of being a parent for those who are middle aged or unable to have a child of their own. If you would like to learn more about your options for becoming a parent through adoption, consider making an appointment to speak with a licensed adoption agency in your area. They will be able to answer any questions you have and help you to understand and begin working your way through the adoption process. Check out this webpage for more information.