Old Mom: Dies at 69, Leaves Orphan Twins

After a failed attempt at in vitro fertilization in 2000, Allison Parr-Plasha and her husband, Mike, decided on adoption, but their options were limited because of their ages.

Today, at 41 and 55 years old, respectively, they are considered by most adoption agencies to be too old to raise a newborn in the United States. Even abroad, certain countries place age limits on adoptive parents.

As "global citizens," the couple turned to international adoption, falling in love and adopting Saul Enrique, now 5, in Guatemala. Soon, they will adopt a sister for Saul in Ethiopia, where adoptive parents can be as old as 50.

"We are going for a child as young as possible," said Plasha, a life coach in Erie, N.Y.

"It's not an issue with my age," she told ABCNews.com. "A lot of women my age are still having kids. But it gets complicated with my husband's age and we were not even eligible in every single country."

In the world of adoption, parental age is one of several guidelines that puts the welfare of the child first. Though private adoption is less rigid, most agencies expect that adoptive parents will be younger than 45.

Ironically, new advances in the world of assisted reproduction, including egg donation, mean that women past menopause can actually give birth to children, even as older couples like Plasha and her husband cannot qualify for domestic adoption.

"It's the Wild West," said Adam Pertman, director of the Evan B. Donaldson Institute, about the lack of regulation in fertility technology.

'Oldest Mother' Dies at 69

This week, Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, who lives in Spain and at age 66 gave birth using an implanted egg donation, died, leaving her young twins motherless. The woman, who was 69 when she died, paid $60,000 and lied about her age to a Los Angeles fertility clinic. She had been previously diagnosed with cancer.

"I have wanted to be a mother all my life, but I never had the opportunity, or met the right man," she told the press at the time. "My mother lived to 101 years old, and I have every reason to believe longevity runs in my family."

The 2006 birth sparked a worldwide debate about over having children so late in life. Her own family had called her "selfish and irresponsible."

The Donaldson Institute recently released a new report, "Old Lessons for a New World," which suggests that adoption-related research can be used to improve policies in assisted reproductive technologies such as sperm, egg and embryo donations.

ART World Could Learn From Adoption

"A lot of the lessons in adoption should be applied to assisted reproduction of all sorts," said Pertman. "We should be thinking of the ethical issues and not just do it because we medically know how."

One experience in the adoption world is that, depending on the type of adoption, "age can be a serious consideration," according to Pertman.

"The reason there are age limits is we want parents to be able to handle their kids and be around for them growing up, not just the day they adopt," he told ABCNews.com. "There are health reasons."

Adoption guidelines vary -- by country, state and agency -- but generally, older parents are encouraged to adopt older children. "A country that has age limits for infants, for example, might mind less if a 60-year-old adopts a 17-year-old," said Pertman.

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