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Here's Why Meghan and Harry May Choose to Adopt a Child

The royal couple may tear down yet another longstanding tradition.

Ever since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married, there has been endless speculation over if and when the couple will have children. Harry has made no secret of wanting to be a father and has said many times that he'd "love to have kids." The prince told the BBC during the couple's first post-engagement interview, "We'll start a family in the near future." In 2016, before he even met Meghan, Harry told People, "There have been moments through life, especially when we do a tour abroad, when I think, 'I'd love to have kids now.' "

Given Meghan will turn 37 next month, the couple's plans to start a family—now or in the future—could involve doing something no other royal has done before: international adoption.

According to a report from U.K.-based BabyCentre, "Fertility starts to decline for women from about the age of 30, dropping down more steeply from the age of 35. As women grow older the likelihood of getting pregnant falls while the likelihood of infertility rises."

While a recent article in The Sun reported the duchess, due to her age, would likely have twins if she were to have IVF in order to get pregnant, Meghan and Harry could opt to go another route entirely and choose international adoption in order to become parents. Adopting a child internationally could possibly be something the couple would find both appealing and deeply meaningful since both of them have witnessed first-hand the plight of orphans around the world. Harry has vowed to "spend the rest of my life… trying to make a difference" and Meghan has repeatedly said she "always had a really strong sense of responsibility." Their affinity for children everywhere they've traveled to together has been a hallmark of their joint appearances.

While no one in the British royal family is adopted or has ever adopted a child, that may not deter Meghan and Harry as they have shown they are set on living a different kind of royal life and aren't afraid to go against some of the longstanding traditions of the British monarchy.

"No British royal has ever considered adopting a child," a palace insider told me. "It would surely be a major change, but as we've seen with Meghan joining the family, attitudes within the family have evolved. There is no law that prevents it."

While the idea of adopting children would have been out of the question for Prince William and Kate Middleton since he is third in line for the throne—and his children occupy the subsequent positions in the line of succession—that is not the case with Harry and Meghan. By law, The Act of Settlement states that succession to the throne is a blood descendant only. It is highly unlikely Harry will ever be king, as he dropped to sixth in line, after the birth of Prince Louis.

"There is no question Harry has more freedom than William, who will become King," said my source. "Whether that extends to adopting a child is a question that has yet to come up."

For clues as to what country the couple may choose to adopt from, it's not out of the realm of possibility to think that Meghan and Harry would look to Africa because of the special meaning it holds for them. They have traveled to the continent several times together and Harry designed Meghan's engagement with a diamond sourced from Botswana. The prince's charity, Sentebale, works with AIDS orphans in Lesotho, and last year, in a documentary about Princess Diana, it was revealed that Harry has maintained a special relationship with a orphaned boy he first met there 12 years ago during his gap year.

"For me, I have this love of Africa that will never disappear… and I hope that it carries on with my children as well," he has said.

And for more on the royal couple, don't miss The Real Story on How Harry and Meghan Got Together.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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