Once upon a time, I was one of the 30-40% of Americans who considered adoption at some point. I had heard the statistics and the stories, and I knew that I could love and parent a child who wasn’t biologically related to me. I imagined that my family might include both adopted and biological children—there was (and is) no reason to believe that I could not get pregnant. I also certainly imagined that I would share this future with a husband. But college and grad school came and went without the appearance of Mr. Right. So, I got on with life . . . found a good job, bought a condo, traveled at will.
I welcomed two nephews who made my heart explode—helping me see that my capacity for love was bigger than I imagined. I watched my cousin bring her daughter home from Ethiopia—giving me proof that my extended family was open to adoption. And, snowed in and bored one day, I finally made the call to my local department of social services. I left a voicemail but then got a quick return call letting me know about an upcoming informational meeting. My sister (one of my rocks through the entire process of both of my adoptions), volunteered to come to the meeting with me, and off we went.
We both left the meeting buzzing with excitement. Yes, yes, we agreed. This sounded great—sounded right. We stopped by my parents’ house on the way home and neither of us could stop talking. “So,” my dad asked, “It’s a go?” I told him I was sure adoption from foster care was right for me, but I wasn’t sure this was the right time. “Why not?” he asked, and I couldn’t truly think of a good answer. If I’m honest, I was imagining folks in my conservative-leaning circles shaking heads and furrowing brows at the idea of a single girl becoming a mother on purpose. But my parents, I knew from this night as well as previous conversations, were one hundred percent on board. And as I started sharing the idea of becoming a single mother by choice with my closest friends, the response was startlingly similar (and almost anticlimactic). Of course, of course, they all said. We know.
It was almost like they had all talked about this behind my back and agreed that it was the best course of action, and I was the last to know. I figured that if all the people I loved and trusted most agreed on something, it must be good. And so, I started the long, challenging, heart-expanding journey to becoming a mom by foster adoption.
Are there great things about being a single parent? Absolutely. For one, it meant almost half the paperwork during my home study. It meant I didn’t need to cajole anyone into scheduling fingerprinting or medical appointments . . . it was all on me (and, as a type A overachiever, I rocked the details). It means I never struggle to present a united front on discipline issues with my kids, and that they can’t pit me against anybody else to get what they want. And, honestly, I’ve experienced more love and generosity from my community since becoming a mom than I ever had before, so that’s an unanticipated and beautiful thing. Those shaking heads and furrowed brows . . . I never got them.
Are there really hard things about being a single parent? Of course. As I’ve been writing this article, I’ve stopped fourteen times to tuck my little one back into bed. Some days, I’d love to be able to share that responsibility (and the thousands of other physical and emotional responsibilities of parenthood). And, unfortunately, my kids get more comments about “not having a dad” than they do about any other aspect of our conspicuous family. I hate that having a single mom feels like one more opportunity for them to be othered.
But here we are. Not exactly happily ever after, but living a beautiful, full life that we love. I am confident in my decision because it brought be the two greatest joys of my life. Looking back, I have no doubt, single parent adoption was exactly the right choice for me.