In recent years, international adoption has been on the decline. Due to changes in country policy and many nations promoting domestic adoption over intercountry, the hurdles prospective adoptive parents face seem to be growing. And for single parents, choosing to raise a child on their own may be the biggest hurdle of all. In the United States, single parent adoption constitutes 30% of all domestic adoptions. But in intercountry adoption, several countries limit prospective adoptive parents to married couples. So, which countries are single-parent friendly? Here is a list of the Top 5.
Top 5 Countries That Are Single-Parent Friendly (International Adoption)
These five Hague Convention countries are a good choice for single parents hoping to adopt.
China is perhaps one of the longest standing countries for intercountry adoption. The program in China is well-established and many countries look to China to develop their own intercountry adoption policies. Since 2011, China has welcomed single women to adopt, though intercountry adoption by single men is still prohibited. Children available for adoption are between the ages of 12 months and 13 years, and all children are on the Special Focus List. The Special Focus List includes children with mild/correctable to moderate and severe special needs. Prospective adoptive parents must be between the ages of 30-49 years of age, though for those 50 or older, adoption of a child is possible provided the prospective child is no more than 45 years younger. Unlike other countries, China has additional requirements, including illustrating a solid social and family network as well as the availability of strong male role models to be in the child’s life. Current timeline for referrals is 3-24 months. Only 1 trip to China is required to finalize the adoption. In 2016, 2,231 adoptions to the U.S. were finalized. China is a Hague Convention country.
This Eastern European country is open to both single men and single women. Prospective adoptive parents may choose a child of either gender. Bulgaria actively promotes domestic adoption, and children appear on a domestic adoption registry for six months prior to being eligible for intercountry adoption. Children are typically 2 to 15 years of age at referral and sibling groups of 2 or more children are common. The wait time for a healthy child age 2-5 years is currently over 3 ½ years. If prospective adoptive parents are open to an older child, sibling groups, or a child with special needs, wait time for a referral can be significantly less. Bulgaria requires two trips to finalize the adoption. In 2016, 201 adoptions to the U.S. were finalized. Bulgaria is a Hague Convention country.
The program in India is a long standing, stable one that continues to evolve. Intercountry adoption is open to both single men and women, with some restrictions. Single women may adopt either boys or girls, while single men may only adopt boys. Children available for adoption are in the Waiting International Children program, or WIC. The WIC program is for those children with mild/correctable to moderate and severe special needs. “Special needs” also includes those children over the age of 5 and sibling groups. Prospective adoptive parents must be 45 years or younger to adopt a child 4 and under; 50 years or younger to adopt a child between 4-8 years of age; and 55 or younger to adopt a child between 8-18 years of age. From application to placement is typically 18-36 months. The number of trips required to finalize the adoption varies by region but typically 1-2 trips are involved. In 2016, 194 adoption to the U.S. were finalized. India is a Hague Convention country.
When Haiti became a Hague Convention country in 2014 their intercountry adoption program underwent an overhaul. As a result of new procedures, from dossier submission to referral can run 16-24 months. Children available for adoption are typically 2-6 years old and range from healthy to minor special needs. Both single men and women may adopt from Haiti, provided they are 50 years old or younger and at least 35 years older than their prospective child. Once a referral is received, prospective adoptive parents must travel to meet their child and appear before the Haitian court. A second trip to Haiti is often required to finalize the adoption. In 2016, 178 adoptions to the U.S. were finalized.
This South American country has a very well established and stable adoption program. Colombia’s intercountry adoption program is open to both single men and women, with some restrictions. Single women may adopt either boys or girls over the age of 8 or a child with special needs. Single men may adopt only boys older than 8 years of age. Children are 3 months – 15 years old at time of referral. Prospective adoptive parents must be between the ages of 25-55 (though if between the ages of 45-55, may only adopt children over the age of 10). From dossier submission to referral is typically 6-12 months. Basic Spanish is required at time of travel, though only 1 trip is required. In 2016, 131 adoptions to the U.S. were finalized. Colombia is a Hague Convention country.
Ready to make the leap? The first step is to connect with an accredited agency and find out more about their country program offerings. For both men and women, Latvia is another possibility, and for women Vietnam, Ecuador, and Honduras welcome single parents. It’s important to note, too, that country policy changes all the time and some countries may become more welcoming to single parents while others may increase their restrictions. A good agency will be able to advise you as to which program is right for both you and your blossoming family.
Jennifer S. Jones
Jennifer S. Jones is a writer, performer, storyteller and arts educator. She holds an MFA (Playwriting) from NYU Tisch. She has written numerous plays including the internationally renowned, award-winning Appearance of Life. Her amazing transracial transcultural family was created through adoption from China and India. She is passionate about the adoption community and talks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, joys and "is this really us?!" whenever she can. She writes about her experiences at www.letterstojack.com.
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