Becoming a Mother at Age Fifty

Since age 28 or so, I had wanted to be a mother. I enjoyed my independence as an officer in the U.S. Navy and was not particularly interested in getting married, but I checked into adoption possibilities whenever I moved to a new state. Each time, I was told that only couples could get their names on the long waiting lists for infants.

By the time I went to Guam in 1988, with my 40th birthday approaching, marriage had started to look somewhat attractive. I put the matter in God’s hands. I decided if He wanted me to have a husband and/or children, He would send them to me. If not, I would be content alone.

In 2000, while a captain in command of a major unit in Los Angeles, I learned that single people could be adoptive parents. I asked for school-age siblings, and the adoption agency matched me with a pair of sisters, April (age seven) and Amanda (age five). They had been in foster care since being taken from an abusive home four years earlier. The biological parents lost their parental rights when they failed reunification requirements, thus making the daughters available for adoption.

The girls were polite and shy when I met them. After several visits, the social workers and I agreed on a date for the move into my home. I sewed matching quilts as welcome gifts and asked my mother to come out from South Dakota to help with the transition. We became a family two months after my fiftieth birthday. April later told me she’d been ready to go home with me because she knew their foster parents didn’t want to adopt them. And whatever April decided was okay with Amanda.

Although the girls brightened my life, our remaining two years in Los Angeles were a challenge. I sympathized with men who go to bars rather than face what waits at home. I dreaded walking into the house, knowing the babysitter would hit me with the problems of the day–April’s bad-hair tantrum that made them late to school, or Amanda’s letter “A” drawn on the wall, or a toy broken in anger.

I knew it was my role to set limits and theirs to test the boundaries. It always helped me to hear from other parents that their children acted similar to mine. I once told someone, “Your kids don’t say they wish they could go back to their real parents.” He answered, “No, but they say they wish they had different parents.” His reply still comforts me.

girls-6-111.JPGMy job transfer to Washington, D.C., freed us from constant foster care oversight, and the adoption became final in 2004. My daughters are growing into fine young women, and we work through the bumps along the way. I learned that you have to be a parent to understand just how tough parenting is. I prayed for patience; I still do. But my main prayer expresses gratitude that God sent the girls to me.

2 Responses to “Becoming a Mother at Age Fifty”

  1. Jeniffer Thompson Says:

    Hi Diane, I didn’t realize you had adopted girls. What a wonderfully touching. Do you have pictures? How are things now, I would love to hear more. Jeniffer

  2. admin Says:

    Hi, Jennifer, here’s one photo. They’ve turned into beautiful teenagers, and I’m so proud of them.

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