Short answer: yes. Long answer: keep reading. There is a tremendous need to find adoptive homes for children who need them, both here and abroad. These children need loving homes that could help them to recover from the ravages of war, the conditions of orphanage living overseas, or abuse and neglect here at home. Although most parents who adopt are married, there is a growing number of individuals who are single who are adopting. This is great! Children need homes regardless of whether their parents are married or single. They need to know they are loved, chosen, and wanted. If you are single and gung-ho about adopting, good for you! There’s a child somewhere out there that needs you!
Who Needs to Be Adopted?
– Children in orphanages. In thousands of orphanages across the world, there are children waiting for a “forever family.” Though we do not have orphanages here in the U.S., orphanages are needed overseas due to war, natural disasters, abandonment, terrorism, or poverty. Most of these orphanages are in good condition, some are in bad condition. But the bottom line is that every child deserves a family of their own. Check with your adoption agency as to whether the nation you are interested in adopting from takes applications from singles.
– Teens. We usually don’t think of teens needing to be adopted. However, a foster youth who does not get adopted and “ages out” of the system at age 18 is at a greater risk of homelessness, addiction, incarceration, and unplanned pregnancy than their peers. They need permanency also. Perhaps what they need is a single parent who gives them one-on-one attention! They may need more attention if they are coming from a group home where the closest thing to a parent was the staff members who rotate their shifts every 12 hours. That type of attachment is difficult. However, when a teen is adopted by a single parent, attachment is much more possible. Consider adopting a teen. As motivational speaker Josh Shipp says, “Every kid is one caring adult away from a success story.” Will you be that one?
– Sibling groups. Brothers and sisters need to stay together! They share the same parents, the same blood, the same family name, and often, they share the same trauma. Because of this, siblings should be adopted together. Brothers should never wonder if their sisters are safe. Sisters should never experience milestones without their brothers being there to share in the experience.
The thing that single foster parents need to understand is that they will be outnumbered if they choose to adopt a sibling group. Traveling arrangements, sleeping arrangements, babysitting, and separate schools are all things that need to be planned out ahead of time. Usually, when there is a couple, having two children is not a problem because each spouse can take one. However, when there is just one parent, having two or more children can be overwhelming. Proper planning and a little help from others can go a long way.
Things Single Men Ought to Consider
There is a shortage of good men out there that are willing to be adoptive parents. Usually, if a man is married, men are the ones whose arms you have to twist in order to get them to adopt. But if a single man is motivated to do so, all the better! First of all, single men are needed to adopt boys. Why? The longer a boy stays in foster care in the states, the less likely he is to be adopted. These young men need a role model to show them what it is to have strength with gentleness, how to work hard without being lazy, how to treat others with kindness, and how to be a leader and a productive citizen in society. Why? Because these young men may have never seen that before in the men involved in their lives. Seeing those qualities in an adoptive father will change a young man’s life.
Secondly, girls need father figures in their lives. It may be a bit unusual for a single man to adopt a girl. However, it makes more sense if he were to adopt a girl as part of a sibling group. It is the adoptive father who will teach the young lady what true love is. Often, fatherless girls seek love from boys through sex. But girls who do have a positive male role model in their lives may delay sex. This leads to my third point regarding adoptive dads.
If an adoptive man adopts a girl, they need to find positive female role models for the young lady. No, I’m not saying to start dating immediately! However, as the girl gets older, there are things that occur, especially in puberty, that only a mature woman can understand. It is important to connect with the community to find a person like that.
Please keep in mind that there may be restrictions on who you can adopt from certain adoption agencies or certain nations. For example, some faith-based agencies only accept applications from married couples. If you are attempting to adopt internationally, certain nations will not take single men. Do your homework and choose the path best for you!
Things Single Women Ought to Consider
Single women are tough, strong, and independent! These are exactly the type of people needed for prospective adoptive parents. Single women are needed to adopt girls to teach them how to grow into young ladies. Though teen boys have a difficult time getting adopted, if a teen girl stays in foster care for an extended period of time, she will bounce around from foster home to foster home until she ages out of the system at age 18. They need a tough, experienced woman with thick skin to guide them through those teen years. A single woman who is able to open up her home may be just the remedy these girls need.
Though it is uncommon for a single woman to adopt a teen boy, it is not unheard of, especially if that teen is a part of a sibling group. However, as stated above, single adoptive moms need to search out positive male role models for that boy to supplement the care they give. Sports and athletics are great places for males to learn controlled strength, teamwork, and leadership. It is in sports that coaches have a positive effect on boys and teach them how to have a positive effect on society as a young man. Other organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America also match mentors with youth. BBBS has shown to reduce truancy and helped to raise the grades of troubled youth. Faith-based youth groups, Boy Scouts, 4-H clubs, and other youth organizations can also assist single adoptive moms with boys.
Again, do your homework to see which adoption agencies accept single parents.
Types of Adoption
– International. International adoptions have dropped dramatically over the past 10 years due to rising costs, added regulations, and several nations restricting adoptions to the US. However, if you have the resources and the patience, international adoption can be a blessing for you and a child in need. Currently, the most adoption-friendly nations are South Korea, Mexico, Haiti, Ukraine, Kenya, and Nigeria. The astronomical costs associated with international adoption should not deter you as there are grant programs that can help defray many of the costs. Laws and regulations vary from country to country, so you will need to do some research on which nations accept single applicants.
– Domestic infant adoption (Private). Last year, over 18,000 children were adopted here is the U.S. Though married couples mostly adopt infants, it is not uncommon for singles to adopt an infant. Here’s what you need to know about infants: they need attachment! They need to be held often, to be talked to, sang to, cuddled, and kept close. To adopt an infant and then place them in a daycare facility may be detrimental. Understanding full well that single adoptive parents need to work, avoiding daycare may be tricky. Look for a daycare with a low adult to child ratio. For example, you would rather have a daycare with a 1-2 ratio (meaning 1 adult to 2 children) rather than a 1-6 ratio. This may be tough but will go a long way to enhancing the well-being of your child.
– Foster care adoption. There are 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S. at any one time. Out of those, 100,000 children are free for adoption! The positive thing about foster care adoption is that it is virtually free! This is vital when considering adopting a child on one income only. While international adoptions cost upwards of $40,000 and domestic infant adoption can cost upwards of $20,000, the costs of adopting a child out of the foster care system is practically zero. Though foster care adoption varies from state to state, even if there are costs incurred, many of these costs are reimbursable.
Another positive aspect of foster care adoption is that it provides a prospective parent with experience. Adoptive parents are sometimes unprepared for the special needs that come with adoptive children. Children in foster care are there through no fault of their own due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. This trauma sometimes has long-lasting effects on the child. Odd behaviors, developmental disabilities, and sometimes mental illnesses may be real possibilities in children who need to be adopted. This doesn’t mean that these children don’t deserve to be adopted, it just means that these children need experienced parents who can meet their needs. Foster care provides that type of experience! After all, foster care is temporary, adoption is permanent! These kiddos need a “forever family” that is willing to go the distance by their side!
– Kinship. A kinship adoption is one where the adoptive parents and the child they adopt are related somehow. Whether it’s grandparents adopting their grandchildren or aunts and uncles adopting their nephews and nieces, kinship adoption is becoming a trend due to the lack of foster/adopt homes in the U.S. This is a win-win situation because the child may already know the relative who is adopting them. The child may have already been to their home, may know the rules, and may not have to “earn” their adoptive parent’s approval. They might already have it.
Last Bit of Advice to Singles:
Develop a support team! Don’t be a lone ranger! You may be single, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Seek out friends, family members, and other people in the community who will wrap around you and support you, not only for physical support but for emotional and spiritual as well.
You will need babysitters, respite providers, and possibly afterschool care. You will need someone to make your meals, to share playdates, and to assist with transportation. You will also need people to come around you when you are sick. Who will do housecleaning? Who will get the kids to school and other appointments?
Community is very important for singles. Take a rest and get away! Go on a date! Go see that friend who you haven’t seen for years. Or just go to the café and hang out by yourself! Don’t feel guilty. If you don’t have enough in the tank for yourself, how can you have anything left for your kiddos?
Have you also considered that your child may need a break from you as well? A change of scenery also works wonders for adopted kids. They are usually on their best behavior for others and those negative behaviors usually don’t rear their ugly heads as much. Take a break!
Whatever path you choose, whether single or married, whether you adopt privately or through foster care, adoption is a blessing. Be sure you are child-focused and child-centered. Make sure you are there to meet the child’s needs and not your own. You can make a difference in the life of a child by being there when no one else was!
Derek Williams is an adoption social worker and has been in the field of child welfare and behavioral health since 2006, where he has assisted families in their adoption journey. He and his wife started their adoption journey in 1993 and have eight children, six of whom are adopted. His adopted children are all different ethnicities including East Indian, Jamaican and Native American. He loves traveling with his family, especially to the East Coast and to the West Coast and is an avid NY Mets fan! Foster care and adoption are his passions and callings for Derek, and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.