AARP Eye Center
Television celebrities Hill Harper and Hoda Kotb share something special: Both are in their 50s and recently adopted a child, becoming a parent for the first time.
Harper, who starred in CSI: NY and recently appeared in All Eyez on Me and Homeland, revealed publicly this month he had finalized the adoption of his 18-month-old son. In an interview with ABC News, the single father said that for the longest time he envisioned he would get married, have biological children, and also adopt. Well, as he approached 50 years old a friend of his posed the question, “Even though you aren’t married, why can’t you just be a dad now?”
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
Kotb, anchor for NBC's Today show, shared a similar reflection with her viewers: "I've always had this feeling inside that I wanted a baby, but I thought I was too late." She continued, "I was divorced, I had had cancer, and you just think, OK. I don't get everything, and it's OK. And then, all the sudden, you look around and you go, 'Well, why not me?' "
In an interview with AARP, Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption, explained that while the age of parents adopting children isn’t tracked, in his decades of experience he has seen a shift. “As a social worker 31 years ago, I dealt with a lot of parents who were under 40 and adopting. Now parents are adopting well into their 40s, 50s, and in some cases older,” Johnson said.
Harper admitted he was initially hesitant to consider adoption. And even after meeting with an adoption expert and learning more about the process, he still wasn’t ready. Resuming his Hollywood-style life, the actor and author began shooting a new show and planning for other acting roles. But in November 2015, about six months after that meeting, Harper received a phone call from the adoption representative. Harper remembers the conversation nearly word for word. “He said, 'There is a wonderful young woman who’s having a son in three weeks. Would you be interested in adopting him?' ”
The actor, who had never changed a diaper before, made the life-changing decision to become a father. He scrambled to get ready while also shooting All Eyez on Me. The father-to-be went from the film set to a plane and rushed to the delivery room where he witnessed the birth. He even cut the umbilical cord. Harper, now 51, says the biggest challenge is knowing that each day you are making decisions that will affect the future of your child.