Single parents are adopting in greater numbers than ever before. Although the exact figure is hard to come by, one California agency reports that 25 percent of all adoptions are by single parents.
But you don’t need an adoption agency or an expert to tell you that single adoptive parent applications are on the rise. The signs are everywhere. Just visit the web and you’ll find a growing number of parent profiles by single adoptive hopefuls, including this one by Lisa on our “Find A Family” page.
Although some of the applicants are men, the overwhelming majority are women. So, in light of the rising numbers and the fact that prospective birthmothers have traditionally favored two-parent families over single parents for their baby, what can a woman do to increase her chances of finding a match?
Stand out from the crowd
Whether you’re applying as a single adoptive parent or as a couple, the key to success is still the same: find the characteristics that set you apart and drive them home in your parent profile. It’s true that many prospective birthmothers will go into the process with the idea of placing her baby with an adoptive couple.
But if you can catch her attention with a profile that’s honest and interesting, you could suddenly find yourself in the running. As always, focus on the specifics. Your martial status may not be a strong selling point. But the fact that you have a large family or love to hike or coach a girls soccer team could help you create that initial spark and eventually seal the deal with a prospective birthmother.
Level the playing field
One reason birthmothers opt for a two-parent family is due to the perception that single parents don’t have the time or the finances to adequately raise their baby. As a result, you’ll need to play to your strengths and find a way to close the gap. The reality is, many single parents not only have sufficient finances, they often have more life experiences and education than two-parent families. They may also work from home and have a flexible work schedule and/or access to child care.
These are all things that you’ll need to emphasize in your profile. But don’t just say it. Show it. After all, there’s no better way to convince a prospective birthmother that you have what it takes than by sharing photos of yourself surrounded by your family, friends and support network — or as Lisa has done in her profile, by emphasizing your attributes as a “loving mother” rather than simply describing yourself as a single mother.
Prospective birthmothers know what they’re getting
Two-parent families can get complicated. Different parents have differing views about how best to raise a child. And if those disagreements get out of hand, they can create tension for them and their child. At least with a single adoptive mother, there are fewer surprises. After all, because you’re the only person the birthmother will be dealing with, she’ll always know what she’s getting.
And that — and the reason you’re adopting — is something you’ll need to point out at the opening of your letter. Don’t wait until the end to address it. It will be too late. When it comes to making a connection with a prospective birthmother, optics are everything. If there’s an obstacle keeping you from finding a match, deal with it right away. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist or that the prospective birthmother won’t notice it.
Married or not, there are no guarantees in life
Two-parent families often have the edge when it comes to finding a match because, well, they’re two-parent families. But just because a couple is happily married today doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way in the future. People change. And sometimes they may decide that they’re better off living apart than together. Besides putting a strain on their relationship with their child’s birthmother, that could have a negative effect on their child.
As a single parent, you won’t have that problem. What’s more, just because you’re on your own now doesn’t mean that your status won’t change down the road, especially if you’re not single by choice. One day you too could be part of a two-parent family. So if that’s what a prospective birthmother is looking for, you have just as much of a chance of becoming one as anyone else does.
Societal norms are changing
Once upon a time, there was a stigma to single parenting. Not anymore. Today, divorce has turned many households into single family dwellings. What’s more, new more inclusive family units are popping up all the time thanks to same sex adoptions, surrogacy and blended families. And not only in large urban cities.
Familial arrangements that were once considered taboo are now the norm. And who are the biggest beneficiaries of this cultural and societal shift? Children. Alternative family set-ups are teaching them to view the world differently. Just like adoption, single parenting isn’t what it used to be. And neither is growing up in a single parent family. There are more options and opportunities than ever.
Appeal to their sense of fairness (and vanity, too)
Placing a baby for adoption takes courage. Placing a baby for adoption with a single mother takes even more courage. After all, it bucks tradition. But with a bit of finessing you can turn what could be perceived as a negative into a positive. Let’s fact it, everyone likes to think of themselves as being fair and open-minded.
Prospective birthmothers are no different. So if you can demonstrate that by placing their baby with you, they’ll not only be giving their child a loving, nurturing home, but they’ll also be making a statement, you could end up making a compelling case for yourself. After all, marital status aside, are you are as a single parent any less capable of loving a child and offering him a promising future than a couple is?
Find areas of commonality
It’s no secret that birthparents choose adoptive parents they can relate to and with whom they share common traits. That means that the more birthparents can see themselves reflected in you, the better chance you’ll have of being picked. As it turns out, many birthparents have been raised by a single mother. Or they could be a single parent themselves.
They’re not only familiar with the arrangement, they may be perfectly comfortable with it. Keeping that in mind, your job as a prospective adoptive parent is to show that even though you may face more challenges than a couple, you’re perfectly capable of dealing with them — just like others have before you.
Go the extra mile
Although hopeful single adoptive parents may have some advantages over two-parent families when it comes to connecting with a prospective birthmother, there’s no question that by and large they still have a harder time finding a match. In order to be successful, then, you’ll need to be more aggressive in your networking efforts and do everything you can to get your story out there. The fact that some adoption agencies and networking websites refuse to work with hopeful single adoptive parents doesn’t make things any easier for you.
One hopeful single adoptive parent who has done a great job of reaching out to prospective birthmothers is Melinda Su. You might remember her from the blog post I wrote about her adoption YouTube video, or from her Mother’s Day guest post, or from her talking about her adoption dreams for 2012. Time and again, she’s put herself — and her profile — out there, and one day I’m sure that all of her hard work will pay off.
One final thought: No matter where you are in your adoption journey, just remember that every birthmother wants the same thing for her baby: a loving, stable home. And if that means choosing a single adoptive parent over a couple, so be it. After all, it’s her choice. And if she’s explored all of her options and is comfortable with her decision, isn’t that all that really matters?
What kinds of experiences have you had as a hopeful single adoptive parent? What challenges have you faced in your adoption journey and how have you handled them? What advice would you give other hopeful single parents who are hoping to connect with a prospective birthmother?