Friday, January 18, 2013

Too Single For Foster Care or Adoption?

On Wednesday, I wrote about older foster/adoptive parents. Today, let's look at another question often asked by people considering foster care and adoption.

Sometimes people ask, "I'm single. Can I still adopt or foster?" States and countries vary on whether unmarried people may adopt – so do check in your area. But the question people ask isn’t just one of legality. It’s more, “should I consider adoption or fostering, even though I’m single?” Behind this question is the underlying belief (or pseudo-belief) that a two-parent family is better for children than a one-parent family. That’s not necessarily true. The character of life in the home is more important than the number of adults in the home. A solid, loving, nurturing, stable one-parent home is far healthier and happier than a two-parent home where life is characterized by instability, unkindness, violence, ridicule or neglect. Sometimes, a loving one-parent home will be preferable to a loving two-parent home; some children who have experienced trauma or abuse have difficulty feeling safe around people of one gender or another. A single-parent home might be an easier setting in which children with that need could feel safe.

photo: (Johan Larsson)
Over several years as a foster care / adoption social worker, I've met some excellent people. Two of the strongest foster parents I met were single women. Jamie*, in her late twenties, adopted several children. Her extended family was very supportive of her and her new children, and she stuck with the kids through easy times and hard times. Jamie’s love has been foundational for her kids’ thriving, and has extended to the kids’ birth family. This young, single foster mom has been a part of creating a successful, healthy, particularly open adoption.

photo: (amslerPIX)
 Another strong foster parent with whom I had the privilege of working was Judith*. A pastor in her late 60’s, Judith felt called by God to open her home up to children. She did not adopt, but did provide a loving, positive, supportive, and structured home to many young boys and girls who needed the stability during a turbulent time in their lives.

 Jamie and Judith changed the world for the children whose lives they touched. Through Jamie, several siblings have been able to exit foster care and have a large, loving family to call their own. Because of Judith, many kids have experienced stability and positive affirmation during the particularly difficult life transition of being in foster care.

If it’s in your heart to help kids through fostering or adoption, don’t let singleness stop you.

 *Names changed

Want to know when new movie guides are posted? Like Adoption At The Movies on Facebook or Follow Me on Twitter

You might also like:

Adoption Movie Guide of Les Miserables 

Getting Out of Foster Care

Have Adoptions in American Been Historically Open or Closed?


  1. While I agree that a loving single parent home is better than an abusive or neglectful two parent home, I think that a loving two parent home is the best possible setting to raise a family.

  2. Hi Rachel - thanks for your comment! There definitely is a lot of good about having two parents in the home, and for many kids, that is an optimal set-up. For a few kids, it's difficult to feel safe around men, and for those kids, a single-parent (or single-gender) home might be more comfortable. The situations that come up most frequently are that older kids in foster care often experience significant instability in housing -- they get moved from home to home, and often age out of the foster care system without being adopted. A two-parent, permanent home would probably offer the child some advantages that a one-parent would not. At the same time, a two-parent or one-parent home that offers stability - whether through adoption or through committing to not have the child moved - would be a vast improvement over the experience that older foster kids often have! Single people shouldn't be scared away from serving, and more two-parent families should join the mix, too!

  3. Yes, this: "The character of life in the home is more important than the number of adults in the home."

    When we can we maximize, but most times in life we optimize.


Open Adoption Blogs