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Ask Billy: Am I too old to have kids?

By Billy Bean

I'm 53. My other half of 17 years is 50. We're both in good health. Are we too old to participate in a surrogacy program to have a baby or should we adopt an older child? I'd be 70 before a child would be raised. I wonder if that's too old to be a parent.

Cliff McSparran
Austin, Texas

Dear Cliff,
I think it is wonderful that you and your partner want to be parents. You have obviously proven to each other that you are partners in this life and you should be very proud of that. Having been in a relationship of my own for 11 years, I know that there are many obstacles in our daily lives that can make this accomplishment difficult, but as I always say: it's certainly worth it.

Your question is a difficult one. Since you asked, I'll give you my opinion.

Remember that I am not a parent. Although I come from a large family, each and every situation is unique and life changing. One of my dearest friends in Miami went through the surrogacy experience a few years ago. It was incredible to witness. I am sure most of us have fantasized about having a few of our "own" little images running around the house. I completely understand why this would seem so appealing to you and your partner. However, there are many long-term ramifications to consider, most of them have to do with your age.

A child needs every bit of your attention for many years. I think one of the hardest lessons I have seen in my life is watching friends or family becoming parents without understanding the enormity of the responsibility. Everyone thinks of the parenthood experience as being the pregnancy, birth and infancy period. However, think how important every day is going to be for your child between the ages of 8 and 18. Not to mention that most of your child's friends will have parents half your age. This could be a very confusing and trying experience for him or her, and we're not even talking about having two daddies yet. It is my hope that someday, two mommies, two daddies, or one of each will make absolutely no difference in the eyes of the world. However, until that day, it is something we as a community must discuss, if only to protect our children.

My last concern is whether you've discussed this with both of your families. Do they support your idea? If something were to happen to you and your partner, would there be someone to take the responsibility of raising this child for you? What is your financial situation? Can you support this child who would be coming into the world completely dependent on you both? Two men raising a child in Texas might not be the most supportive environment either, so that is something to consider. Would you continue to live there?

If you have considered all of these questions already, I applaud you. Because it is vital that we in our community do become parents if it is the right decision. It is the only way the world is going to change it's view about the seriousness of our commitments, our desire to have a complete lives and, most importantly, our ability to be great parents.

That being said, in the situation you described to me, I would say that adopting an older child would be just as fulfilling and life changing for you as a couple. There are so many children between the ages of 5 and 15 who have never had a loving family to support, encourage and allow them to reach their true potential. I can think of nothing more generous and wonderful than giving a young child that chance in life. I have had many opportunities to coach kids in baseball clinics and sporting environments, and each time I experience this, I walk away feeling like I was given the gift. I am sure you will have the same experience. It seems to me, that fostering a child is the perfect environment to see if you have what it takes to be a great parent and an influential role model for a deserving kid.

I wish you all the luck in this decision. I hope our paths cross someday soon.
Billy Bean

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