She's Too Old, But He Wants a Kid

Q: I never thought I wanted children, but after meeting my current husband, I'm rethinking my desire to be a mother. The problem is that I'm in my mid-40s and he is in his early 30s. I don't want to risk pregnancy at my age, and I also worry about raising a child at my age. He reassures me that we will provide a loving home to an adopted child, but I'm filled with anxiety about the future and am afraid I might make a choice that I regret. — Angela, 46

Dr. Susan: Your anxieties are well founded, Angela, and need to be acknowledged and dealt with before you take another step. Because of your age difference with your husband, you're at two very different stages in life. You're able to look ahead a decade to when you'll be in your mid-50s, and beyond that another decade to retirement age. Any child you raise will still be very much a part of your life until at least then. It seems your mate is focusing on the pleasures of raising of a child and not on the challenges, which are not insurmountable but are very real nonetheless.

It's not easy to adopt a newborn, and many American couples end up adopting from abroad. Even then, the child you adopt may not be an infant, which has its up-sides. I would highly recommend talking about your feelings and his with a counselor. I also suggest reading books and essays by those who've adopted. Becoming a parent when you're ambivalent isn't the best way to go about it. No matter how delightful your child may be, parenting will add immense stresses to your marriage, will deprive you of sleep, and will be a responsibility (and joy) unlike anything you can now imagine. It's a huge step, so do the research.

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