Can you adopt as a single parent? The simple answer to this question is “Yes,” but it’s not as easy as it sounds. In fact, you won’t receive a “yes” answer with every adoption agency you encounter. It’s important to understand what attempting to adopt as a single person might mean and what challenges you may face.

The Legality

Thanks to changes in the laws since the 1960s, it’s now legal in all 50 states for a single person to adopt a child. Before that time, it was rare and usually impossible for a single man or woman to become an adoptive parent to a child. A single person might be made guardian of someone if he or she were a relative, but legal adoption was unusual.

Today, you can adopt a domestic child from any state. However, not all countries will accept a single person for international adoption. There are agencies both here in the US and around the world which will only accept couples for adoption. A single person’s application will automatically be denied just on the basis of marital status.

Growth of Single-parent Adoptions

With the need for more stable and loving homes, single-parent adoptions have become more commonplace. Whether you are adopting from another country or through the foster care system, you’ll find plenty of children awaiting homes.

Because of the need for more homes to care for children, agencies are working with single parents to create these homes. Fewer agencies restrict adoption to couples—even religious agencies have loosened their requirements in recent years to include single men and women.

The Challenges to Adoption

While it’s legal and becoming prevalent, single-parent adoption still isn’t easy. The most desirable children–babies, toddlers, and other young kids with no medical or mental health issues—often go to two-parent homes. Single people find themselves looking at older kids if they want to build a family. While this is not as much the case as it once was, there is still often a stigma against them when it comes to adopting newborns or other young children.

Then, there’s the issue of approval. Getting approved for adoption is a complicated process for all prospects, but it can be even more challenging for the single person. Single parents must be able to prove they can provide for the child financially and are able to spend time with the child without a second parent involved.

It’s even tougher for men who wish to adopt, as their motives are scrutinized closely. They may meet all the criteria and still be turned down as adoptive parents. Single people are asked about their lifestyles, dating interests, and other personal questions to ensure they are good candidates as parents.

It can often feel like you’re being put under a microscope to get approved as an adoptive single parent. However, it’s becoming a lot more common for single people to form their own families through adoption. Just be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, and find a supportive agency to begin the process.

Joyce Morse is a full-time content marketing writer who is also a single adoptive parent and current foster parent. She has a seven-year-old adopted daughter who is her inspiration. Her passion is to help others understand the miracle of adoption and the needs of children who are looking for their forever homes.