At 46, Ann Szilagye says her life is just beginning.
"I'm single, never been married, and I've always thought I would have children. But it didn't happen," said Ms. Szilagye, who lives with her sister, Elaine, 47, in Point Place.
Ms. Szilagye, a cardiology recovery nurse at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, said she had considered adoption for about eight years.
"But then I would think to myself, 'How can I do it? How can I afford it? Would it be fair to raise children without a father?' - all of these thoughts crossed my mind," she said.
Ms. Szilagye said she thought of all the single or divorced mothers she knew who reared children successfully on their own.
In addition, her family's strong moral and religious beliefs, as well as their close ties to each other helped her decide to adopt two children, she added.
Many first-time mothers are turning to adoption to fulfill a lifetime dream of rearing a family, said Laura Draheim, placement coordinator for Lucas County Children Services.
"So I said, I'll try it," Ms. Szilagye recalled. Still, her age was a concern for others whom she told of her plans.
"I could just read it in their faces and some would even tell me, 'Are you crazy? Are you nuts?' - but most people I told were very supportive, and age wasn't so much of a factor," she said.
While many women choose to have children later in life, Ms. Szilagye said balancing motherhood and her career posed a bigger challenge than being a first-time mother in her 40s.
Ms. Szilagye chose to first become a foster parent, intending to later adopt two elementary school-age sisters through Lucas County Children Services, a local agency that handles cases of abused and neglected children.
(To protect the children, details and photographs of them have been omitted.)
Last April, after living together for about a year, 21 hours of parenting classes, paperwork, fingerprinting, and background checks, the adoption was finalized.
"Motherhood is a big responsibility - making sure their homework is done, that they eat right, that I have enough milk, their lunches are packed," she said.
The difference between her and mothers of her daughters' friends shows up sometimes, she added.
"During field trips, the moms are a lot younger than I am. There's a blend of ages, but they're still a lot younger," she said.
Ms. Szilagye's sister, Elaine, is a co-parent to the young girls, and other family members, including her mother and other siblings, help to watch them.
Ms. Szilagye is unable to hold back tears when asked about the first time her daughters called her that most precious of titles - mom.
"My oldest said it first," said Ms. Szilagye, wiping the tears from her eyes. "It's a bond that is hard to explain. I will never forget it, and my youngest was soon to follow."