Can Single Parents Adopt a Child?
In modern day adoptions, you do not have to be married in order to adopt; in fact, single parent adoption is more common now than ever before. In 2011, over 13,000 single women and 1,400 single men became parents through adoption, and studies show that the children of these parents grow up to be just as happy and successful as those in traditional two-parent households. If you are considering raising a child in a single-parent home, read on to learn more about adding to your family through a single-parent adoption.
Am I Ready to Adopt?By understanding what to expect of single parent adoption, you can determine if you are prepared to make the next step and begin your adoption journey. Before you begin the adoption process, make sure you’re ready for single parent adoption by considering the following:
Time ManagementNavigating day-to-day life is a challenge for any parent; for single adoptive parents, this challenge is multiplied. You must make time to work, tend to your child’s needs, devote time to bonding, and still take care of your own needs on top of it all. In some cases, you may want to call on the help of your loved ones for matters like babysitting or errands. If you have a time-consuming job or other obligations, a support system can be invaluable.
FinancesIt is important for parents in single-income homes to be prepared for unexpected financial changes. When you are preparing to adopt, make sure that you have a plan for handling challenges or contingencies; careful financial planning will also show a potential birth mother that you can provide every possible opportunity for her child. You will also want to plan on taking some time off of work after you bring your child home. Speak with your employer about your adoption plans early on and determine if you have access to any employer-provided adoption benefits.
Dating and RelationshipsFor single parents that are adopting or hoping to adopt, it may be best to put dating on hold for a while. This can be beneficial for you and your child both during and after your adoption. When you are waiting to adopt, it is important to consider potential birth mothers that are looking for a family for their child. If your relationship status is as clear as possible, a birth mother will be able to better envision what her child’s life will be like in your home. After you bring your baby home, you can continue to benefit from remaining single while you and your child adjust to your new family dynamic. You will be able to devote more of your time to bonding and getting to know your baby. Once you know that you are in the right place to bring a child into your home, you can move on to the legal requirements for adoption.
Single Parent Adoption RequirementsIf you want to adopt domestically, there are no legal requirements that would prevent you from adopting as a single parent. Some of the requirements that affect eligibility for all adoptive parents might include:
- Age – Some states have a minimum age limit for adoptive parents, and others require that the parents be a certain number of years older than the adopted child.
- Sexual orientation – A few states disallow adoption on the basis of sexual orientation, including Florida and Mississippi.
- Criminal history – While a criminal record does not immediately prevent a person from adopting, any convictions will be taken into consideration. Individuals with a history of sex offense cannot adopt under any circumstances.
- State residency – Some states require you to be a resident in order to adopt a child; these states may also have exceptions, such as in the case of special-needs adoptions.
How do Single Parents Adopt?The process of single parent adoption will be different depending on what type of adoption you choose. Different types of adoption have unique requirements and processes for single parents:
- Foster Care Adoption – Foster care adoption is a common option for single parents; in 2011, 30% of children adopted from foster care were adopted by single people. This is also a good option for parents looking to adopt an older child, as children become available for adoption in foster care when they cannot be reunited with their birth family.
- International Adoption – For a single parent, international adoption is only allowed in certain countries. If you choose to adopt from another country, make sure you understand that country’s laws and know that you are eligible to adopt there.
- Domestic Infant Adoption – Contrary to some hopeful single parents’ concerns, there are prospective birth parents who are interested in finding an adoption opportunity with a single mother or father. If you need help finding a match with a prospective birth mother, an adoption agency that specializes in matching services for single-parents will provide you with the best opportunity of finding that perfect match.
Advice for Single Parent AdoptionsAll parents have their own unique challenges, and single adoptive parents are no exception. Here are some suggestions that can help you on your adoption journey:
- Have a support system – All adoptive parents should have a team of helpful and supportive loved ones at their side. As a single parent, it is especially important that you surround yourself with people you can depend on if you need them.
- Plan for emergencies – Having a backup plan in place for emergencies, both big and small, will help to ensure the stable household that your child needs.
- Consider a special needs adoption – Some children, especially older ones with attachment issues, can benefit greatly from living in a single-parent home; often, they may bond more successfully with one person.
- Choose the right professional – A reliable adoption professional can be an invaluable informational and emotional resource for anyone on their adoption journey. Moreover, some professionals may be more experienced at working with single parents.
- Combat negative perceptions – Although single parenting is becoming increasingly common, some people still see a stigma attached to it. Talk to your child from an early age about the many different shapes families can take.