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Adopting and dealing with elderly parents

Are you going to be too stretched to successfully provide for the needs of an adopted child?

One does not come to international adoption early in life. Most adopters are in their late thirties and early to mid forties. They have had careers, or families and are now looking to complete their family unit by giving a child in need a home.

But this timing is not conducive to having young and healthy parents. It is exactly at this time that one's parents begin to move into old age and become more frail and vulnerable.  They start to lose their independence and need more and more, to rely on their support network of children, family and friends.

And this means relying on you, both in terms of time and emotional security.  If you are the only child then the demands on you will be higher. If you have a wide family network then your parental responsibilities will be reduced.  In any regard this is something that will be looked into in your assessment. 

The thinking is that an adopted child will need  significantly more time and attention then a birth child and if you are also looking after an ill or aging parent or relative then you may not or will not be able to cope.

Janet was an only child and her mom was becoming poorly. Nothing too serious, she just needed help around the house and the odd bit of shopping. The old lady lived in the next village and a round trip took about an hour.  Unfortunately, the social workers deemed that these demands would only become more and it would not be possible for Janet to cope with her mother and a child and therefore stopped the adoption process.

It is, however, a natural event in life that our parents become old and we are created to cope with this, as well as bringing up children and living complex lives. I therefore think that it is totally unfair to exclude potential adoptive parents on these grounds. But to ensure that you do not get caught out negatively, please ensure that there is lots of support for you, for your future child and for your aging parents.

No one can predict what will happen in the future, and your family situation could change in a heartbeat, so the assessment process only takes into account the situation at the moment of the assessment.  However, if it is looking as if your energies will be too stretched, it may be prudent to halt your adoption until things are more stable.

Monica's parents were both very well when she started her homestudy. However unfortunately they both fell ill during the adoption process and she was advised to wait.  She was grateful that she did. Her mother passed away shortly afterwards and she was able to spend quality time with her before she died. She was also able to settle her father and then picked up the adoption reigns once he was secure.

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