40 is too old to adopt…?

20121105-153450.jpgA 48 year old adopter begs to differ!

A report conducted on behalf of BAAF, questioned 2100 people about various aspects of adoption & fostering.

Among the misunderstandings reported by the subjects, were beliefs that amongst the factors that would act as a barrier to adoption, were things such as:

  • Having a criminal record;
  • Being single:
  • Being gay or lesbian;
  • Being from a low income family, and
  • Being over 40.
  • Also, a third of those questioned believed it would take around 3 years on average, start to finish, to adopt a child.

I was privileged to spend a number of years sitting on an adoption and fostering panel. Along with colleagues and lay members, I helped in the approval process for prospective adopters and foster carers. During that time, I witnessed applicants from each of the above groups apply successfully to foster and/or adopt children.

Looking back, in fact, it wasn’t these kinds of issues that marked people out; it was the overwhelming desire to be parents and the refreshing and well-informed willingness to embrace the additional challenges presented by adoption. Whilst panels have to give due consideration to applicants, the priority is always to ensure the welfare of children and adopters. I never once saw even a hint of prejudicial practice that would exclude anyone on the kinds of mythical grounds assumed by those questioned in this study; nor would the guidance or the Courts allow it.

I have another qualification to speak on this subject – my two adopted children! So I can speak as one who has sat on the other side of the table at a panel hearing. As it happens, during my second journey through this process, I was 41 years old. Whilst I had quite a clear subjective sense of being an ever so slightly “older parent,” at no time was this reinforced, or even mentioned, by the professionals involved. It just wasn’t an issue.

Indeed, in more than a dozen years of involvement as an adopter, I have had a universally positive experience of the whole thing. There have been all the usual challenges of bringing up kids – the kinds of things that have tested parents since time immemorial – but like all parents, adoptive or otherwise, that’s what I signed up for.

But I was 41 and that wasn’t a problem; and in both cases the process took less than 18 months from initial phone call through to having the child move in!

Personally, I think everyone involved in adoption should work not only to bust open the myths, but to celebrate the delights!

Ask not for a good reason why you should adopt; ask yourself why not

What do you think?

  • Will you be celebrating National Adoption Week? If so, how?
  • What experiences of adoption have you had?

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© Jonny Matthew 2012

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