In 1970, it was almost unheard of for a single parent to adopt a child. Only .5% to 4% of adoptions were by single parents during this time. Over the last twenty years there has been a steady rise in the number of single parent adoptions. This is becoming one of the fastest growing trends not only in the United States but all around the world.
Single parents have been legally eligible to adopt since the first adoption laws were passed in the mid-nineteenth century. Although it was legal it was neither tolerated nor accepted. Singles were still viewed as less desirable than married couples. Men were especially seen far less considerable than women. This was if they were considered at all. Every state currently allows single adults, men or women, to adopt. Today thousands of children are placed with single parents. Twenty-five percent of all single parent adoptions are those of special needs children.
The question of why single parents adopt has been raised many times. There are several different reasons for this. Single men and women often find their lives incomplete. Although they remain unmarried their desire to have children is strong. Sometimes single women pursue careers and put off marriage. They then find themselves in their thirties with a compelling desire for children. Loneliness is another factor. The need to share is a complex human response. Caring enough about a child to share one’s life with , is a healthy need.
Many children never make it past foster homes or institutions. Adoption agencies feel that even a single parent can provide much more than these places have to offer a child. Although they are single they can offer a child a loving home and the attention that young children crave.
Although women are the primary caregivers for most children of single parent adoptions, there on now one million single fathers. Even so, there are many obstacles for single parents to overcome before adopting a child. The traditional parenting views of a child needing a mother and a father for healthy growth still exists. Mental health experts say that the ideal place for a child is in a two parent home, with a mother and father who are compatible and loving.
Family and friends may be the hardest obstacle that they have to overcome. They may not understand why anyone would want to take on the great task of raising a child alone. They may question the intentions of their loved one wanting to adopt outside of marriage and they may also question the readiness of the person to raise a healthy child.
Agencies also have varying policies for single parent adoption. Although it is legal some agencies do not except it at all. Often the children offered may have disabilities or they may be ten years old instead of the requested infant.
If an independent adoption is wanted then the obstacle arises from the child’s birth mother. Sometimes they may not like the idea of single parents. They want to see their child raised in a traditional family.
The biggest obstacle is one that single men face. They have to go through the scrutiny of being asked intimate questions about their sexuality, motives, friends and living arrangements. Although a single man may be more than qualified they may still be turned down.
Although the trend of single parent adoption is on the rise, the acceptance level remains low for most. It may be normal for someone who was raised in a single parent home, but for those who come from traditional families, it is seen as harming the child. As time goes on this will become a more controversial issue because more and more single men and women will want to step up and take on the responsibility of raising a child.