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How Old is Too Old to Become a Parent

Highlights from December 21, 2011 Creating a Family radio show

It is possible to give birth or adopt in your 40s, 50s, and even 60s, but should you?  What are the health risks for pregnancy with older mothers and what are the psychological and ethical implications for beginning parenthood in your 40s and beyond.  Our guests are Dr. Jeff Ecker, a high risk obstetrician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School; Dr. Julianne Zweifel, a psychologist and professor in the department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; and Dr. Linda Applegarth, the Director of Psychological Services at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility and Professor of Psychology in the Departments of Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine at the New York Presbyterian Hospital - Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Fertility treatment. Infertility treatment. Age limit for fertility treatment. Age limit for adoption. Age limit for domestic adoption. Age limit for international adoption. How old can you be and still adopt?


  • What are the medical risks for women over 40 carry a pregnancy to term and giving birth?
  • Are there additional medical risks for women in their 40s and 50s being pregnant?
  • The chances of conceiving naturally or with IVF go down tremendously as a woman ages into her 40s. How do the chances improve if she uses a donor egg or donor embryo in the process?"
  • Do the medical risks change is the pregnancy is achieved with donor egg, which of course is the majority of pregnancies through assisted reproduction when women are in their 40s. Are there additional risks from donor egg pregnancies?
  • Are their greater medical risk for mother and babies when a women is carrying twins and is over 40 or 45?
  • Do you think that women over the age of 45 be mandated to single embryo transfer if they do attempt a pregnancy?
  • How manageable are the health risks to an older mother and her child/children, if they are anticipated in advance?
  • How much do the risk increase as a woman ages?
  • What are the medical risk for a child conceived through sperm of an older father?
  • How common is pregnancy through fertility treatment in woman over the age of 45?
  • It is also possible to adopt in your 40s and 50s. What types of adoption are open to people over 40 or 45 or 50 or 55?
  • Can you adopt domestically a newborn if you are in your 40s or 50s?
  • Can you adopt internationally if you are in your 40s or 50s?
  • Can you adopt from US foster care if you are an older parent?
  • Other than medical risks, what other things should older parents consider before becoming a new parent at 43 or 48 or 53?
  • Is it fair to children to be conceived or adopted by older parents?
  • What are some of the positives about being an older parent?
  • What are some of the negatives about being an older parent?
  • Is the issue the quality of parenting or the possibility of orphaning your kids at a relatively young age or putting the burden of care of elderly parents on a young person. Any research on the quality of parenting?
  • Is there a different ethical discussion involved in adopting at an older age if the child would not have had parents otherwise (e.g., international adoption) or have been given life in the first place (e.g., embryo donation / adoption)?
  • It seems that most discussions about older parents focus on the mother’s age rather than the fathers. In fact, some countries, notably Russia seldom care much about the father’s age. Are there any issues that are gender specific—in other words a bigger deal for mothers of fathers?
  • What are some things older parents should do and prepare for to protect their children?

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Creating a Family and in particular your radio show has been a lifeline to me over the past 2+ years. In the privacy of my home/car I have been connected with others whose family-building has been challenged and I have had access to invaluable information from experts that have helped us make better decisions. Thank you! ~ S. Potter

Creating a Family was such a great resource for me throughout the adoption, I remember even blogging about it the first time I discovered the radio show because I was so excited! I continue to benefit from your the shows even now, one year post adoption. Thank you for the good and important work you are doing. ~ A. Oliver

I just wanted to say thank you so much for this resource, I just recently found it and I just happened to stumble upon it doing a google search.  It has been hugely helpful!!!! We've been looking into foster care and adoption and listening to the various radio shows relating to those topics have really helped us know what to do and what to expect..more  ~J. Joy

I just wanted to stop in and say a quick thank you for all the support and information you provide the adoption/infertility community... I also am a "research junkie", and your blogs & podcasts have been an invaluable source for us on our journey to grow our family. more ~ E. Meyer

I wanted to thank you for all of the wonderful things you do. We brought our beautiful baby boy home from the hospital on April 2nd. While we waited for an adoption match and then waited for his birth, your podcast and website were a continuous reminder that we were part of an amazing adoption community. It really helped us not feel alone.  ~Sarah S.

I listen to your radio shows daily on my iPod while cleaning, exercising, driving etc. I've learned so much from it, that today in the foster- adopt support group I felt like an all knowing expert, despite the fact, that I have zero experience in the field. Thank you for a wonderful resource! I am spreading the word. ~G. Longley

Thank you so much for your radio show! I was just listening to it, and it's very informative. My husband and I are in the process of adoption, so we read a lot to be able to make informed decisions. Your website is a great resource for us! ~N.M.W.

“I learned more from this show than from two Reproductive Endocrinologist and all my own research. I appreciate the professionals you have on your show.” ~ L. Upton

I LOVE your show, it's the most helpful, unbiased information I’ve found about infertility and adoption and I'm so thankful for you and your organization. Keep up the fantastic work, you are changing lives. ~ Amanda

So I would like to introduce to you....Z. V.. She is now 11 weeks old. She came from a lovely perfect little frozen embryo, from our 4th round of IVF (2 fresh cycles and 2 FET)...more  ~A. Houston

I'm just writing to say that I've downloaded another bunch of your podcasts onto my iPhone and while I listen to them on my daily commute I silently
thank you for doing such a good job and conducting such brilliant interviews!!!...
more   ~G. Marino

Although you don't know us from Adam, I wanted to drop a line and thank you for the amazing info, sound advice, and encouragement you offer to adoptive and prospective adoptive parents.  We just received our pre-approval for our daughter, W, from China!  You (in book, website, blog, and podcast form) have been there every step of the way in this journey.  ~ J. & C. Morningstar

I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you how much I love your show. I recently got an iPhone and have been listening to them on iTunes. Your "What Adopted Teens Want Their Parents to Know" session was amazing!!!          ~A. Watson

My husband and I are parents through adoption to THE three most incredible children in the world. All via newborn domestic transracial.  I wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from your web site.  I often refer potential adoptive parents who ask me for advice to your site. I especially enjoy your radio shows and today’s show on "Knowing When to Move from Infertility to Adoption" particularly resonated with me. ~N. Ferrari

I have loved, loved this radio show. It has been hands down the most helpful resource on this often painful and confusing journey. ~ R. Butler

I have been listening to lots of your radio shows of late. Great guests and very enlightening always. Thanks so much for keeping us up with the latest.  ~ W. & M. Welch

I just wanted you to know what a tremendous resource and blessing your podcasts have been to my wife and I as we prepare to travel early next month to pick up our new 17 month old son from Colombia...more
~ M. & L. Oakes

I just wanted to share my story since Creating a Family pod casts were so helpful to me when I was infertile. It really helped knowing I wasn't alone and could get the most updated information on my condition. I am almost 32 years old and I have been trying to get pregnant for 6 long years...more ~ J. Mendenhall


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We are awaiting the arrival of our child from Ethiopia. I recently took a road trip and downloaded 9 hours of the Creating a Family podcasts and listened to them all. I learned so much. Thanks.        ~J. Madine 

Just home from adopting our son in Colombia. He and we are doing great. Your site and especially podcasts were a tremendous resource to us personally, as well as for a reason we didn't ever expect...more  

~ M. and L. Oakes




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