Sunday, October 24, 2010

70-Year-Old Wants to Adopt

OK, it's actually a harder question than you think!  At Adoption Under One Roof, there's this story:
Is 70 too old to adopt a 7 year old boy? A little over a year ago my agency asked me to take another teenage girl, with a catch. She came with a 6 year old brother. . . . These children had just entered foster care, the victims of severe neglect. The agency thought they could really benefit from the attention a grandmother could lavish on them, and they were right.

My little boy arrived even smaller than expected. He was wearing size 3, and I had to run out and buy a car seat for him. At 6 years old, he was quite a bit smaller than my 3 year old granddaughter. Of course, that caused myself and my teenagers to hold and snuggle him even more, something he desperately needed. Over a year has passed and the agency is looking at terminating the parents’ rights, making my sweet little boy and his teenage sister available for adoption. Because the sister is over the age of 14, she can choose whether or not she wants to be adopted. She has chosen to stay with me until she graduates. I just cannot imagine giving up my little boy.

Normal procedure is not to allow a person more than 50 years older than a child to adopt a particular child. I am 63 years older than him, still in good health and active. I am waiting for the agency and courts to make a decision on whether or not they will allow a 70 year old single woman to adopt a 7 year old boy.
So what's the answer?  Should this 70-year-old be allowed to adopt?  Should brother and teen-age sister be split up? Is my argument that there shouldn't be an absolute bar based on age, that it should be decided on a case-by-case basis, sounding better? Or is this case proof-positive that there should be an absolute line drawn? If you were the judge, what would you do in this case?


Von said...

Case by case basis is humane and of course the boy and his sister should never be split up, the sibling relationship is usually more important than any other at times like this.

Louise said...

I agree with Von. I hope these two siblings are not disrupted or separated!

Molly W. said...

I agree the boy should not be separated from his sister or removed from her home -- but I also can see the argument that a younger parental figure would be more likely to be around and active into this boy's adulthood.

Is there another way around this? Does the 70-year-old have an adult child, for example, who could become legal guardian with the stipulation that the 70-year-old would have primary physical custody?

Elizabeth@Romans8:15 said...

case by case seems the best way. Since the siblings shouldn't be split under any circumstances, I wonder if the older sister could agree to be the guardian should something happen to the adoptive mother in the future???

Linda said...

While it's important siblings never be split up, it is highly irresponsible to allow someone this old to adopt.

Adoptees have had enough trauma. They shouldn't have to lose another parent, or be forced to care for a parent while still in their teens. I cannot believe that anyone would think it is ok for someone that old to adopt. They have age limits for a reason.

This girl is too young to be appointed guardian over her brother, so if the a Mom died or became unable to care for herself or her kids, they would most likely be put into care. I do not know what the answer is for this case, but its a shame the kids are in this position to begin with.

Sharon said...

Hurray for this woman for being a foster parent. If she was a blood relative, say the grandmother, would there be any question about the appropriateness of her becoming the legal guardian or parent? How many prospective adoptive parents are waiting to adopt siblings of such varying age? Would the boy be better off moving to a foster home with younger adults caring for him but no commitment to permanency? I think in this case it's pretty clear that she should be allowed to adopt the child, with a plan in place for his care if she were to become incapacitated.

Reena said...

I agree that siblings should be kept together at nearly all costs.

I also agree with Linda that 70, regardless of health and activity, is too old to adopt a 7-year old child. However, it sounds like this child and his sister have already bonded with this woman so I think removing them from her care would also cause them trauma.

I like Molly W's suggestion of determining if the 70-year old has an adult-- younger relative that is part of her children's lives who would accept guardianship while the 70-year old retains primary physical custody.

Anonymous said...

I think for age 3 years and under there should be strict adoptive parent restrictions. Over age 3 years, case by case.

Anonymous said...

It is extremely unfortunate that these two children have been placed in this situation to begin with. In this particular situation it would be highly traumatic for the younger sibling to be taken from his sister. That being said i have to agree with Linda. Personally close to this same type of situation, i am familiar with an individual that has adopted and is around 60 years older than the child. While the parent is extremely loving, caring and financially well off, they also are causing some really detrimental social issues for the young girl. Obviously there are too many issues to weigh out over a blog but i will say that since the children have been in the custody of this woman for a while now it would further complicate their childhoods by removing them from a home yet again. The courts should leave this situation alone and let these children grow through the challenges that will define them as young adults, but in all future cases there should definitely be a hard line on the age issue with adoption.