In 1970, if you had gone to an adoption agency as a single person and applied to adopt a child, you would, unfortunately, have had little chance of success -- it just wasn't done much. There was a strong bias against single parent adoption. Now, thousands of children in the United States and other countries are living with single men and women who have chosen to become parents and who have been given the opportunity to provide a loving permanent home for a child.
In the last several decades there has been a steady, sizable increase in the number of single parent adoptions. In fact, some believe that it's the fastest growing trend in the adoption field. According to a 2013 report based on 2009 U.S. Census figures, approximately one-third of all adoptions from foster care are by single people.
Why Is Single Parent Adoption Becoming More Prevalent?
A number of factors have encouraged the acceptance of single parent families. Perhaps most important is the growing number of one-parent households due to divorce and to unmarried women having and keeping their babies. With so many children living in single parent families, adoption agencies have been more willing to consider unmarried men and women as prospective adopters. In addition, research studies from 2016 have indicated that adopted children raised by single parents fare just as well as those adopted by couples, if not better.
Obstacles to Single Parent Adoption
Your family and friends may be your first hurdle. They may not understand why anyone would assume the responsibility for raising a child alone. Having an open dialogue with loved ones and explaining your decision with them can be helpful, especially if they can provide you with a support system during and after your adoption.
Personal finances are also an issue when considering adoption. However, adoption subsidies are often available at the state and federal level, especially when adopting a child with special needs. This has encouraged those with limited incomes who are otherwise capable and willing to pursue adoption.
Adoption agencies can also present obstacles as they may have varying policies in dealing with single applicants. Some may put your application on the back burner while waiting to find a married couple who wants to adopt. In addition, some birth mothers express a preference to have the child placed with a two-parent family. Single men can also face especially tough scrutiny when they apply for an adoption.
Internationally, while many unmarried women and men have successfully adopted children from abroad, most countries impose restrictions on adoptions by single parents.
Single Parent Adoption: Important Factors to Consider
If you're deciding whether to adopt a child as a single person, experts recommend considering such factors as:
Of course, all the responsibilities of parenthood will land squarely on your shoulders, from picking up the child at a friend's house, to caring for the child when sick, to everything else. Some people considering single parent adoption choose to become foster parents as a first step in deciding whether they're ready to adopt.
When approaching agencies and other adoption resources, it is important to have confidence in yourself and to not give up on the process. If you decide to pursue single parent adoption, know that there's a child waiting for you.
Getting Help with Your Single Parent Adoption
The process of adopting as a single person may not be a smooth one and some doors may be closed to you. It may be in your best interest to consult a knowledgeable adoption attorney who can advise you about the various options available and guide you safely through the process.