Adoption agencies are seeing an increase in the number of single parents adopting children, especially during the past 20 or so years. According to this article in Parents magazine, current research shows that “children raised in single adoptive parent families compare favorably with other adopted children and show a healthy involvement with friends and family as well as in the activities of their age group.”
If you’re looking into domestic adoption, there’s good news for those who live in the United States: You don’t have to be married in order to adopt a child via domestic U.S. in-country adoption. If you’re looking into international adoption, there are many opportunities to adopt a child for those willing to “fly solo.” However, be advised that certain adoption agencies and countries do not allow adoption by single parents, so, be sure to do your homework ahead of time (usually, such a policy is very clearly stated right up front). This will help you make the most of the time you spend attending informational meetings, submitting adoption applications, and so forth. You don’t want to spend time at a two-hour informational meeting only to discover that they do not accept single-parent adoption applications!
Having a Tough Time Flying Solo? Here Are Some Tips:
1. Enlist the support of a strong network of close family and friends—and even other single adoptive parents.
This is so important! Be sure to lean on them for a break here and there, be it a babysitting session so you can have some time to yourself, an overnight if you have to travel for work, or a visit by friends to your home just so you can enjoy some adult conversation. Invite a fellow single parent to your home, and have the children play together while you engage in much-needed adult conversation and the fellowship created by your shared experiences of solo parenting.
2. Engage in healthy rituals of self-care.
Be sure to take time to treat yourself be it a bubble bath or a night out with friends (get a sitter) or girls’/boys’ weekend or a trip to the bookstore. It’s important to recharge and stay healthy so that you can return to your child renewed, refreshed, reset, and ready for more as you continue to bond with your child and nurture your evolving parent-child relationship.
3. Plan your finances carefully.
With only one source of income, it’s best to sit down and strategize about an alternate financial plan should something happen that affects your regular flow of income (e.g., layoffs, long-term illness). Consider doing this before you approach an agency, even. This will prove to the agency that you’ve been proactive and have thought through your financial situation carefully and are serious about being able to provide for your child, no matter what. Contact your adoption agency, and ask them about any post-adoption financial planning resources/support that they may offer. You’d be surprised. Great resources are out there; you just have to ask. (See list of resources at the end of this article.)
4. Consider joining (or establishing) a local social network specifically geared toward single parents.
The children can be adopted or biological; the point of this network is to connect single parents so they have a supportive, social framework on which to lean—and a like-minded, similarly situated group of solo-parenting friends who “get it” and face the same joys and challenges that you do.
5. If you’re a single man, be prepared to face a lot of scrutiny.
Yes—more than what single women face. And no, it’s not fair, but it’s a reality you must be prepared for, a hoop you’ve got to jump through in order to adopt your child. Often, agencies will ask you extremely intimate questions about your sexuality, your motives, your friends, your living arrangements. It’s an even deeper dive into the already intensely personal questions that every adoption agency asks of every adoptive parent—married or single. As this article in Family Education states, “Some experts advise men who feel that this may be an unstated problem to offer to take a psychological test such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or to agree to an interview and evaluation by a psychologist of the agency’s choice.”
6. Join a national and/or online support organization.
For example, there are many single-parent online support groups located in the forum section of Adoption.com (look under Adoptive Parents/Before Adoption/Single Parent Adoption). Here’s just one example of the many active support groups that exist for you.
7. “Haters gonna hate.”
Be aware of, and prepare yourself for, the arguments against you adopting—because yes, you will hear them. Prepare strong counterarguments that you can politely offer to those who may raise objections. If you prepare well for the “haters,” and provide them with solid evidence, you’ll be in a good position to deal with this discouraging situation gracefully and not let others sway you into thinking you’re “not good enough” or “not qualified enough” or even “crazy.” It’s your life—not theirs! Having counterarguments prepared ahead of time will help you not only stand up for yourself in an argument but win it.
8. Add a once-a-month babysitting gig into your regular budget.
It doesn’t always have to be something super expensive (because we all know it’s not cheap to pay a sitter these days!). A trip to the bookstore. A long, quiet hike. A visit with a friend. Forcing yourself to take regular breaks by having it booked and on the schedule and in the budget will help you as a parent in so many positive ways!
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It’s okay to admit that you’re feeling overwhelmed (in which case, please revisit Items 4 and 8 of this list). We’re all human. None of us have this parenting thing down perfectly. Rely on others, and wave the white flag. If you’ve surrounded yourself with that strong social network of friends, family members, and fellow adoptive parents, your people will race to support you.
10. Believe in yourself.
If you want to become a parent through adoption, believing in yourself is an absolute must. The process is a long and often cumbersome one—but you must believe that a child, your child, is waiting for you at the end of all this. If a certain door closes to you, then find another one that’s open. Never, ever give up.
There’s a great thread on one of the Adoption.com forums called “The unique strength of single-parent families.” Written “way back” in 2003, so much of what Sabra says still applies today. Her post is an informative as well as inspirational read that reminds us of all the benefits of being a single parent to an adopted child. We hear so much about the negatives; it’s nice to read this refreshingly positive article that ticks down through the many items that are in the “plus” column when it comes to single-parent adoption—there is such positive energy in that post! For even more information on single-parent adoption, see also the latest article by Adoption.com author Shannon Hicks, titled, “Is single-parent adoption possible?” The short answer is, YES! It’s not easy, and there are additional adoption challenges (besides the ones present for ALL adoptive parents) unique to single parenting that simply don’t exist for two-parent families. It can be tough. You may feel that the odds are stacked against you. But, if you follow these 10 tips for navigating the tough times, you’ll be well-equipped for single parenting—and flying solo in no time at all.
Kathleen Kelly Halverson lives in Olney, Maryland. She and her husband Jeff have one son, Matthew Seong-jin, whom they adopted from South Korea in 2009. Kathleen works as an editor/writer/social media specialist for a nonprofit in Rockville, MD. An avid reader and passionate advocate for animals (especially senior dogs), Kathleen enjoys spending time with her family and their two dogs, beagle brothers Jupiter (11) and Tyson (7). Out of all her roles in life, being Matthew’s mom is the one that brings Kathleen the most joy.