If you are considering adopting a child, you are probably well aware of the amazing benefits of adoption.
All children deserve the best possible start in life, particularly because a child’s home environment plays a key role in shaping their development and future.
But as most single parents will confirm, you don’t necessarily need to have two parents in a household in order to make a wonderful home.
With this in mind, you may be wondering if it’s possible to adopt as a single woman or as a single man.
Thankfully yes, it is possible to adopt if you are single or not married, and the numbers may surprise you, with singles making up around 28% of all adoptions from U.S. foster care.
But is this process as a single woman or as a single man more difficult?
Are the requirements the same or do you face additional hurdles?
Let’s find out.
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Can A Single Person Adopt?
Many people wrongly assume that you must be married in order to adopt.
This is simply incorrect, because a single woman or single man can indeed adopt a child, and as we saw above, the statistics back this up.
Between 2017 to 2019, singles made up 28% of all parents adopting from U.S. foster care, which is a big leap from the 1970s, where this figure was a mere 0.5% to 4%.
However, adoption in general has a fundamental “problem” of supply and demand, or to put it another way, there are more people looking to home a child than there are available children.
To put this into numbers, it is estimated that at any one time there are around 1 million families looking to adopt, which far exceeds the 110,000 children who are waiting to be adopted in the United States.
So while a single person can adopt, just as with couples, there is no guarantee of success.
Single Parent Adoption Requirements
There is nothing stopping a single person from adopting a baby.
So if you are thinking about adopting as a single woman or as a single man, your relationship status certainly should not discourage you.
In terms of requirements, single parents face the same background checks and other requirements as couples who are looking to adopt.
While child welfare agents should not discriminate against single parents, they are duty-bound to ensure that a single parent understands the challenges with raising a child without a partner, and has the means to do so.
It’s worth nothing first off – and this applies to everyone irrespective of their relationship status or sexual orientation – that even if you believe you would make a wonderful parent and could provide a loving home for a child, there is no guarantee that your application will be successful.
As you may expect, topics like felony convictions, health concerns and your age are examined or taken into account during the screening process, and failing these will disqualify you from the process.
Putting these aside, four things single parents should specifically think about before adopting include:
1. Support System
Raising a child is hard enough with two parents, but, generally speaking, it’s even harder doing it alone.
So single parents should be prepared to demonstrate that they have a strong support system in place, and that you have people you can turn to who can offer assistance when needed.
Close friends and family like your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins could therefore have a strong role to play in assisting you with anything from unexpected childcare support while you’re at work, to caring for your child when you are ill.
It might sound drastic, but relocating so you can live near your family can help strengthen your case in this regard, and it’s of course necessary to have honest and open discussions with anyone you would consider including in your support network before you begin your application.
2. Financial Stability
Next up is your financial situation, which is something that all applicants will be checked on.
Unfortunately there is no two ways about it, raising a child is expensive – in the USA it costs over $310,000 to raise a child from birth to the time they are 18 years of age.
This is a lot of money for one person to cover, so you will need to demonstrate you can afford to pay the $17,000 or so it takes to raise a child each year.
In addition, if you are going through a private adoption agency, you will need to pay the $20,000 to $45,000 that it costs to complete a domestic abortion in the USA.
While you may be eligible for a grant or tax credit (but not monthly payments), you will still need to demonstrate a lot of financial flexibility in order to pass the financial checks, and you may therefore be asked to verify things like your savings, insurance, investments and debts.
3. Working Situation
Thirdly, you may need to demonstrate you have sufficient job flexibility, or more specifically, that your job is compatible with raising a child.
If you work long or irregular hours, need to travel frequently for work or work for an employer that does not or cannot offer enough flexibility, your chances of being successful in the adoption process are likely to be significantly reduced.
Appointments, illnesses and childcare cancellations are all frequent occurrences in the life of a parent, so it’s important that a single parent has enough job flexibility to enable them to accommodate all those things that will crop up and take you away from your job during working hours.
4. Home Study
Lastly, it’s worth thinking about how your living situation stacks up and whether it’s fit for raising a child.
If you are serious about adopting you’ve probably already given this one some thought, but a home study is typically a legal requirement.
In short, the study is to ensure you have a comfortable, child-friendly environment.
So it’s good to be aware that a home study specialist will need to view all areas of your house or apartment (including the area where the child will sleep) and be satisfied that your home is free from hazards.
Thankfully things have come a long way over the past few decades, and now quite rightly many more single parents are successfully adopting children each year.
Just like the process that married couples undergo, adopting as a single man or as a single woman will require passing extensive checks and evaluations so that those involved can be satisfied that you and your lifestyle can support the needs of a child.
There are far more people out there wanting to adopt then there are children looking for a new home, so naturally the majority of applicants will sadly be unsuccessful.
On balance, adopting as a single parent is more challenging given the need for a strong support system, solid financial stability and sufficient job flexibility.
But provided you are aware of these challenges and of the demands of solo parenting, there’s no reason why your application can’t be as successful as one from a married couple.