Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Singles and Adoption: The Intentionally Single Parent

First off, my apologies for my extended absence from Singletude! I think this is the longest I've gone without posting an entry, and I feel terrible about it. Life circumstances have conspired to keep me away, but one of my most time-consuming focuses of late, the wedding of a close friend, will be over at the beginning of October, and I'll have that much more time to spend here. :) I've also been "nesting"--not with a baby but with a newly hatched screenplay, and the "little one" is very demanding!

The other day I was wasting time at a favorite message board that is my gossip magazine, sitcom, and newsroom rolled into one when I stumbled onto a debate about single-parent adoption. I can't remember what sparked it, perhaps Meg Ryan, Sheryl Crow, or some other single celebrity mom who found it in her heart to share her love and considerable resources with a deserving child. Whatever or whoever it was, the board was abuzz with adulation and condemnation for single adopters.

I can hear you now: "Condemnation, you say? What's to be condemned in the extraordinary sacrifice it takes to raise a child someone else brought into the world? Especially for a single adult, whose resources of time and money may already be finite, it seems like a remarkably selfless choice!"

But there are those who believe that a child can only be healthy when raised in a two-parent home and that singles who adopt deprive kids of the chance to have "real families." Regrettably, I used to be one of them.

Go ahead. Fling stones at my glass house. It's true. There was a time when I thought that single adopters were as selfish as a triple decker stroller is long and destined to raise a gaggle of little Christina Crawfords. Needless to say, I've since changed my mind. Not because I've been seized by the irrepressible urge to adopt and now have to justify my decision (I haven't) but because arguments have come to light that have convinced me I was just plain wrong. Here's why:

1. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children & Families, as of 2006, there were 117,380 children in foster care who were eligible for adoption. Of those children, 50,379 (less that half) found adoptive parents. I guarantee you those 67,001 kids still shuffling through the foster care system or fending for themselves in state-run institutions would rather live with a loving single parent.

2. Just because someone adopts as a single parent doesn't mean he or she will always be single, just as married couples who adopt may not remain married. Never has marital status been as fluid as it is today, but the role of mom or dad is forever. So it seems foolish to base the decision to adopt solely on whether the adoptee will enter a one- or two-parent home.

3. A single adopter doesn't necessarily parent alone, while married adopters don't necessarily parent together. Research from around the world demonstrates that singles, including single parents, have social networks at least as deep and rich as those of married couples, sometimes more so. When a single individual adopts, she or he may have an army of "co-parents" ready and willing to be role models, caregivers, mentors, and activity partners as well as to step in at a moment's notice in times of crisis. These can include the adoptive grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in addition to friends, coworkers, and neighbors. In married households, on the other hand, children don't automatically get a double dose of parental devotion. As a matter of fact, mothers still spend almost twice as much time with their kids as fathers do, so it might be more accurate to say that these youngsters have one and a half parents, not two! Okay, okay, it's not all about quantity, I realize. But if time spent together is indicative of parental involvement and influence, then it's hard to see how children in two-parent homes are so much better off than children with one parent and, say, special adult friends or relatives they visit once or twice a week.

4. Children can bridge the gap between singles and the surrounding community, which can benefit both adoptees and their single parents. Although the data cited above proves that singles aren't lonely or isolated in general, there will always be some people who have trouble connecting with others. Far from reinforcing social withdrawal, parenting opens doors to interaction. Whether through PTA fundraisers, Little League games, or Girl Scout meetings, single parents can meet and build relationships with each other and their families. Some single parents have even moved in together to share the responsibility of childrearing!

5. Children adopted by singles aren't suffering for lack of a backup parent. In fact, they're thriving on the single-minded dedication of unmarried adopters. Studies comparing adoptees in single- and two-parent homes reveal that outcomes are similar or even better for kids adopted by singles. Surprised? Here's some more evidence. These counterintuitive results may arise from the fact that singles are more likely than marrieds to establish relationships with children prior to adoption, or it may be that single adopters don't bring marital stressors to the equation. Furthermore, many adoptees have special physical or emotional needs that are better addressed by someone who can focus completely on the child rather than dividing his or her time between a spouse and other kids in the home. Whatever else you may argue, the proof is in the pudding of thousands of well-adjusted young people who are learning, playing, growing, and discovering what it is to be part of a loving family in the homes of single adoptive parents.

If you've ever thought of adopting a child as a single parent but hesitated to do so out of concern for the child's well-being, I hope I've cleared up the misconceptions about single adopters that dissuade so many big-hearted individuals from opening their arms to needy kids. In today's transitioning society, perhaps we can finally peel away the mask of the traditional family, look into the eyes of love behind it, and allow that love to shine forth in any form it wants to take--through families large or small, nuclear or extended, blood-related or adopted, married or single.

What do you think about single parents who adopt? Have you adopted a child as a single parent, or do you know someone who has? If so, can you share your/their experience? If not, would you ever consider adopting while single?

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bobbyboy said...

Great topic chock full of information. You ask some tough questions at the end also. I can't really answer any of them actually, but just let me say this:

I was raised from a single parent, my Mom, because my Dad passed on early in my life. It may be a cliche, but I swear that if not for her values, courage, love and support, not to mention her great inner strength, I would have been locked up for life or dead.

I'm not sure about adoptive single parents, but single parents most certainly can, and do raise children just fine. I'm going to then assume that an adoptive single parent can do the same!

Clever Elsie said...

Thanks for sharing that, Bobby. :) Your mom sounds like an amazing woman! I hope reading about your positive relationship is encouraging to single parents. You're living proof that what's most important in childrearing is a strong parent-child bond.

Thess said...

As long as the child gets truly loved, it doesn't matter if the giver is a single parent...that's my take on it.

Having two parents doesn't guarantee a good home for a child.

And it is always better to be raised and adopted by a single parent than rot in a foster home.

Jessie said...

I'm so glad this blog post was written. It is entirely true being single on purpose and wanting to adopt are two wonderful things.

Concerning adoption, the state of Arkansas is trying to manipulate who can and cannot legally become foster parents and/ adopt. An adoption ban is on the ballot which will prevent different-sex and same-sex unmarried cohabiting couples from being eligible.

To learn more, visit

All individuals should be eligible to adopt/foster children, regardless if they're married or not!

Clever Elsie said...

Thess: Hi! It's nice to see a new face here! I think you're absolutely right, and I couldn't agree more. :)

Clever Elsie said...

Jessie: Welcome! Thanks for the update on adoption in Arkansas! I love, and I'll definitely check out that article.

It scares me how much our government wants to turn back the clock on civil rights, both at the federal and state level. This is the first I've heard of a state trying to outlaw unmarried-parent adoptions, but I know the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption prevents unmarried parents from adopting a child out of any country that has ratified it. This has been an enormous setback for U.S. singles, who often have to look overseas to adopt. China, which used to authorize more single-parent adoptions than any other country, is now closed to unmarried individuals, and Guatemala looks like it might be next. I'll talk about this a bit more in my next post.

Scary times we live in! Just think of all those children neglected in Chinese or Guatemalan orphanages who may never know what it is to have the love of a parent...and all for the sake of some neocon agenda! Frustrating!

Thess said...

thanks for coming over to my blog place. am adding your to my favorites. you might also want to check out my articles on "Dangerous Assumptions part I to IV.

s.t said...

well.. i am nt so sure abt other countries, though its really normal to hear e western side of the globe adopt kids.. Over here in the oriental world, its pretty rare for adoption.

It seems the singles here, aint getting married and aint looking forward to compromise wid their lives wid kids (whether their own or adopted)

Babe - miss u loads!

Clever Elsie said...

Thess: You're very welcome! I love discovering new blogs by single people!

S.T. Interesting that you say that! I had heard there was a trend toward the childfree existence in Japan but didn't know it extended to other Asian nations. Over here, too, people are having fewer kids, but I think that single adults should have the opportunity to be parents if they want to, and goodness knows there are children in desperate need of homes!

Miss you, too, dear! Been thinking about you. We'll have to catch up soon!