How Old Is Too Old to Adopt a Child From Foster Care?


Older adoptive parents often can provide children with the stability and consistency they need, particularly parents who are not seeking to fulfill their own needs.

Q:  “How old is too old to adopt a child from foster care?”

A: This question is often asked by couples or individuals who are interested in adopting but are concerned that they are too old.  Although there is no magic number with regard to the perfect age of an adoptive parent(s), those interested in adoption should contact a local adoption agency and inquire about their state’s specific policies and procedures and/or the agency’s specific policies and procedures. 

For example, the State of Michigan does not discriminate based on age; however, the age and health of an adoption applicant is considered when approving or denying an adoption applicant for adoption. The State of Michigan requires further investigation and assessment of an adoption applicant when there is more than 50 years between the youngest adoption applicant and the child.  These considerations are in place to protect the child from further grief and loss, particularly if the adoption applicant’s health and age are of concern (e.g., if the adoption applicant is 55 and has health challenges and the child is 5).

Additionally, couples or individuals interested in adoption should consider their current circumstances and should ask themselves the following questions:

  • What is my motivation to adopt?
  • Do I have enough time, energy, patience, and perseverance?
  • Do I have a sense of humor?
  • Do I have the ability to permanently and unconditionally commit to a child?
  • Do I have the ability to accept a child and his/her history without judgment?
  • Do I have a willingness to love the child despite the challenges the child may present with as he/she heals from a traumatic past?
  • Would I be willing to seek support services and participate in support services, if needed?
  • Are the members in my family good at working as a team?  Are we all committed to adoption?
  • Does my lifestyle allow me the time necessary to meet the needs of a child?
  • Am I considering retirement?
  • Do I have the financial resources to support a child?
  • Have I discussed adoption with other family members, including my child(ren)?
  • Do I have support from my extended family, friends, etc.

If you are able to answers these questions with a confident “yes,” perhaps you should consider adopting a child. 

According to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, there are approximately 100,000 children in the foster care system nationwide who are legally free for adoption.  Of those children, every year 30,000 will “age out” of the foster care system without a family.

Children do not need perfect parents; they simply need parents that will love them and accept them unconditionally while meeting the unique challenges they may face while providing a lifelong and nurturing relationship.  Older adoptive parents can often provide a child with the stability and consistency they need, particularly parents who are not seeking to fulfill their needs but the needs of a child who desperately needs a family to call their own.


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