Are you considering becoming a single mom or dad by adoption? Here are four things that you should know:
It is possible.
There is a stubborn misconception in some circles that only heterosexual couples can adopt. This is simply not true. Single men and women can and do adopt. Although actual numbers are hard to pinpoint, a growing percentage of adoptions are being finalized by single parents. Research your choices. Talk to a variety of professionals. Rally your friends and family. You can do this!
There are options.
There are a variety of paths to adoption, and all of them are theoretically open to single parents. You may choose to locate potential birth parents and complete a private adoption through an attorney. You may adopt domestically or internationally through an agency. Or you may adopt through the foster care system. All of these options have their pros and cons. Certainly, all birth parents have different ideas of an “ideal” family for their child. Some agencies and countries have policies or laws that place a variety of restrictions (sometimes including marital status) on potential adoptive families. A benefit of considering foster adoption is that the U.S. government cannot discriminate against you due to marital status (or race, gender or sexual orientation). Full disclosure: I adopted both of my children through the foster care system, so I am not unbiased.
You need “specialists” on board.
People will marvel (or lament) at you raising your child “on your own,” as a single parent. Can I let you in on a secret? You’re not on your own. If possible, spend some time before your child comes home researching a variety of specialists who can help. You will likely need a daycare provider (and other occasional babysitters), a doctor and dentist, a therapist and a pastor or spiritual director. As a single parent, it’s crucial that you consider who would care for your child if something happened to you. In addition to informal conversations, it’s wise to have these decisions recorded in legal documents, so you may need a lawyer. You may also want to consult with a financial advisor to consider issues like life insurance. Talking to some of these professionals before your child comes home means fewer logistics to worry about in the first days and weeks that you want to spend focused completely on your growing family.
Your village is crucial.
I cannot overstate this point. As a single adoptive parent, you must have a support system in place. When I first considered becoming a single mother by choice, I was terrified to tell most people outside my immediate family and close circle of friends. I expected caution and judgement. But honestly, when I mustered the courage to share my decision (and certainly once they met my children), people were way more open-minded than I expected. Not everyone will support you in your adoption journey. That’s okay. Find the friends and family who have your back and surround yourself with them. You will need them as references as you fill out teetering stacks of paperwork. You will need them for encouragement as you wait longer than you’d like for your child to come home. You will need them to share your joy when you finally get “the call.” And you will need them in one thousand ways when your child comes home. Find your village now. Share your gratitude for their support. And lean on them when you need help.
Have you adopted as a single parent? What was your experience? What advice would you give to other hopeful adoptive parents who are single?