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According to Christina Haltom-Farrar, who became an adoptive mother at 48, criticism of older mothers within the adoption industry is alive and kicking.
“On adoption message boards, the subject of ‘how old is too old?’ comes up often”, says Haltom-Farrar, who resides in Colorado.
“Younger parents-to-be sometimes complain of ‘older’ people adopting babies”, she continues.
“They think it is ‘unfair’ to the child, whose parents will most likely not be around by the time they grow up.”
While Haltom-Farrar concedes the critics “do have a point”, she has an issue with those who would regulate or put a “cap” on maternal age for adoption.
“There are a lot of moms in the adoption community who say women over 40 should not adopt a child under 5”, she says.
And for women over 50 the prejudice deepens.
“Over 50, you are expected to adopt a much older child.” The irony, she points out, is that many of the older adoptive mothers are in agreement with this stance.
It almost begs the question whether the adoption community suffers from an over-weaning scarcity mentality on the world baby supply, or has neglected to brush up on the latest longevity statistics (http://www NULL.cdc NULL.gov/NCHS/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_19 NULL.pdf).
Now 50 years old, Haltom-Farrar feels the accusations are further ungrounded based on the lengthy process of adoption and raises concern about the degree of discouragement older mothers receive.
“We started the process when I was 46 and my husband was 55”, she says. It would be 2 more years before they were able to bring home their adoptive daughter from Viet Nam.
During that time, there were many who warned them of the pitfalls of later life adoption or, in fact, pitied them for being childless.
The Haltom-Farrars would be admonished with comments such as: “this child will change your life”, or “children are a lot of work”, or “I would never have a little one at my age!”.
Others would say: “Awww! They never had children and now they’re adopting.”
Haltom-Farrar says pity was almost as devastating as the criticism.
“We were happy before the adoption, without children—but we wanted a child to experience parenthood and to give a child a fulfilled life on this planet.”
She further argues that the criticism is a leftover from “societal expectations” prior to the ‘70’s and ‘80’s that women should marry in their 20’s and bear children in their 20’s and 30’s.
In her youth, however, Christina Haltom-Farrar, saw ‘Mary Richards’ from the 1970s Mary Tyler Moore Show (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/The_Mary_Tyler_Moore_Show) on TV as her role model, aspiring to have her own apartment, a great career and the liberty to have fun.
“I expected someday to meet the right man and have children,” says Christina, “but I was in no hurry.”
In fact, Haltom-Farrar—who had obtained a BA in elementary education and a career as a medical transcriptionist—was 38 years old when she finally met her husband.
“I did not think about having a child until around 40,” she remembers, “and I figured if we hadn’t gotten pregnant by then, it wasn’t going to happen.”
When the Haltom-Farrars chose to adopt, however, they gave the process as much serious commitment as they would having a child through any other means.
“Just like giving birth,” Christina warns that adoption is a “long arduous process” and that “mature mothers” should give as much thought to adoption as they would about biological conception.
Unfortunately, the last thing she wanted to be thought of was as “a desperate would-be mother who was to be pitied because I never gave birth”.
“Society wants women over 40 to just fade into the background and rock their grandbabies”, says Christina Haltom-Farrar who is now 51, and her daughter 3.
“But things are changing though— for the better”, she adds.
While she admits, “it (motherhood) has been far more work than I could have imagined,” she was surprised by “the layers of emotions that a mother has.”
“It really is overwhelming the love you have for your child, whether biological or adopted.”
Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (www.flowerpowermom.com), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40.
Previous blog on Christina Haltom-Farrar:
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